Written by – Kaitlynn from MIgardener
My goal with this series is to make accessible material for parents who want to teach their kids about gardening from the ground up. These guides will consist of a short reading section about a gardening subject, followed by ideas for projects and experiments that can be performed at home to make the concepts more concrete for the kiddos! I hope they can be a source of fun for you and your family.
Read aloud: I have a fear of creepy-crawly things. This fear has made certain parts of my job here at MIgardener difficult. Mainly the parts that include looking at pictures of creepy-crawly things. You can imagine. However, for the greater good of gardens everywhere, I knew I needed to create a list of the worst bugs for your garden, so we can all (kids, parents, grandparents included) keep these villenous pests away from our plants.
It's up to you how you choose to remove them, but here are MIgardener's Most Wanted when it comes to troublemaking bugs:
MOST WANTED PESTS
1. Tomato Hornworm
A hungry hornworm can eat an entire tomato plant in one night! Experts at camouflage with spikey horns on their back segments, hence their name. Hornmowrms lay eggs on the leaves of their favorite foods: potatoes, eggplants, peppers, and, most of all: tomatoes. Keep your eyes open for this one and play eye spy to keep them away from your precious crops before its too late!
Check for: chewed leaves near the top of the plants
Control method: hand picking worms, tilling the soil, keeping a weed-free garden
2. Squash Vine Borer
Baby squash vine borers are tiny worms that love to eat squash vines from the inside out! Their bodies are white with brown faces, and they grow up to an inch long. The perfect size for willing through the vines of their favorite snacks: zucchinis, squash, and pumpkin vines. MIgardener makes a unique mix to spray on your plants to prevent this pest. Until then, look for these signs to keep these bad bugs away!
Check for: suddenly wilted vine leaves (the worms cut off the water source early)
Control by: removing and destroying dead vines, wrap lower stems in foil to prevent egg-laying, MIgardener Vine Borer Spray
3. Potato Beetle
Potato beetles sleep in the soil all winter long just to snack on your crops when spring comes around. The yellow and black striped adults lay eggs on the leaves of tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes to grow more! The eggs usually are bright orange.
Check for: eaten leaves and baby worms
Control by: clearing egg clusters/ attracting beneficial insects/ weeding the garden as early as possible
4. Cabbage Looper
This bright green worm is the baby version of the cabbage moth. They love eating every part of your broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and mustard plants. Looper worms hatch quickly depending on the weather, so its best to catch any pure white moths you see in the garden to keep them from laying eggs in the first place.
Check for: ragged holes in leaves (seriously, your leaves will look like swiss cheese)
Control by: thuricide spray row covers for moth barriers
Aphids are the worst. See, they might not cause as much visible damage as the other bugs on this list, but let me tell you. Aphids travel in hoards and are what we call "sapsuckers." All they do is suck the life out of the plants they fancy that day until they move on to their next victim. Ordinarily green, sometimes white or black, they like to hang out on the underside of the leaves of pretty much everything that grows in the garden.
Check for: curled/yellow/or blackening leaves
Control by: spraying with a strong stream of water to wash them away/ attract beneficial insects/ prune heavily infested leaves/ neem oil spray if possible
Project: Pom Pom Caterpillar
This sweet little craft for all ages can be used as a reminder of today's lesson! This one is a little bit more laid back than past posts. I wanted you to be able to take some time with your little ones to have fun and do a relaxing craft instead of doing something more concrete and scientific. Click the link above to get more craft info.
I hope this post was helpful! Please leave me some feedback in the comments on Facebook to let me know if any changes can be made to posts like these in the future!