How To Tell What Pest Is Eating Our Lovely Plant?

How To Tell What Pest Is Eating Our Lovely Plant?

Gardening is a hobby for everyone, everywhere. It brings joy and tranquility to everyone that loves it, and it brings life to our home. Who just don’t love to head outdoor in the morning with their coffee to check for flowers and berries?

But isn’t it annoying to find that some parts of our lovely plants are disappearing because of pests? Dealing with pests are one of the most annoying parts in gardening, and when it comes to it we cannot take it for granted.

Most people will blame insects or snails for those things, but actually that’s not always the case. There are many other animals out there that can cause it, not always insects or snails. And in this special case, pesticides cannot work well.

Here in this article we will talk about garden pests, and how to identify it for better handling.

Bigger Pests Leave Traces

Bunnies by Benson Kua
Bunnies by Benson Kua

Insects and bugs don’t leave traces of their works, because they live in the garden. However, other pests that come and go leave traces. Thus, the most basic way to identify what kind of pest eating our garden plants is by looking on the traces it left in the morning. Simply look at their footprints, if any.

Some garden pests are indeed big enough to leave footprints, like deer or bunnies. Especially in soft ground, big pests can easily leave their footprints. Deer leaves its hoof prints that can easily be identified. Bunnies leave smaller traces and not as deep as what deer leaves.

Another way to identify what kind of pest eating our garden is by looking on the damage done to the plants. For example, deer leaves jagged edge on leaves and stems. This is because they have small teeth at the bottom and hard palate without teeth at the top.

Because of that, they don’t actually bite off the plants. Instead, they just tear off the plants parts. It is different with bunnies, because they have very sharp teeth that can bite plants parts off. Sometimes, they also leave droppings too.

To handle these big pests, we can just put some fencing to the garden. Deer can also be controlled by slicing bath soap and spread it around the garden or placing human hair between plants. While rabbits can also be controlled by mesh or netting.

If It’s Not Big, It Lives Inside


If any of those traces mentioned above cannot be found in your garden, then the thing invading your garden must be smaller animals. Smaller animals, like insects, beetles, bugs, and snails usually don’t come and go like bigger animals. They tend to stay there and live their tiny lives inside your garden when they found that the place is suitable for them.

Because they are too small to slip through the gaps in the fences, most of those small animals cannot be prevented by fencing. Mesh or soap bars like how to deal with deer and rabbits will not do you any good either.

However, it doesn’t mean that you need to immediately spray some insecticides to your garden plants. Using insecticides, especially the chemical ones, is our last resort to deal with garden pest, because of many reasons.

But still, knowing that some kind of pest is invading your garden is especially annoying. That’s why, we need to make sure that we really need to use insecticides to kill those pests. Keep it in your mind that countless small creatures are beneficial for your garden instead.

Thus, controlling the pest specifically is required if you want to keep the biodiversity in your garden without letting the invaders win this war. Again, before using the pest control, we need to recognize the ‘evidences’ they left in our garden.

Here is how:


Just like what we explained above about how to identify whether it is deer or rabbit invading your garden, we can actually check on the patterns left by the pests to our plants. In this case, we have four categories of damages done by garden pests.

Each of those categories can be tracked to specific kinds of garden pests. Thus, you can almost specifically call the signs and choose the exact control method you need that will help you to get rid of them without hurting any other small creatures, which can be highly beneficial for your garden instead.

Chewed Leaves

Chewed leaf by Starr
Chewed leaf by Starr

Caterpillars, grasshoppers, snails, and beetles are the creatures you are dealing with when you see some holes in the leaves. Sometimes it can also be jagged edges with smaller clean cut, because some of those creatures eat from the edges.

They are actually the easiest garden pests to deal with, because you can make DIY pesticides to get rid of them easily. You can even get specific organic pesticides at garden centers also easily for the war with them.

in example, you can get rid of snails by spraying saltwater. For grasshoppers, you can make your own garlic spray because they hate the strong pungent smell. While for caterpillars and beetles, you can use diluted soap spray.

Blanched Leaves

blanched ivy leaves

Blanched leaves is the sign of sap suckers in your garden. When you see the upper surface of leaves in your plants are blanched, it means that you are dealing with liquid-feeding bugs and insects that suck on the juices of your plants.

Stink bugs, spider mites, white flies, and azalea lace bugs are some of the creatures you need to get rid of. In this case, you can again easily use soap and oils to get rid of those smaller creatures.

However, in most cases stink bugs don’t go away easily with this method. Instead of spraying soap and oil, apparently using catnip and mint is more effective method to get rid of stink bugs.

Holes in Corms and Wood

hole-in-a-tree pests

If your plants are dying and you find some holes in the corms of those plants, you are dealing with root feeders. Grubs are the ones you are dealing with, and in this case you need to do more work compared to those mentioned above.

While if you see some holes in the stems of woody plants, you are dealing with the borer ones. Both of those damages may kill the plants. Thus, we need serious control method to get rid of those annoying pests.

However, there is not much thing we can do to get rid of already investing grubs. If we want to totally get rid of them, we might need to kill them one by one, which is problematic. The best way to deal with them is by preventing their parents to put them inside your plants.

Your garden plants already have their own methods for dealing with the parents of the grub, and even the grub itself. However, it requires the plants to be as healthy as possible.

Try to make sure you take care of the plant by avoiding stresses, routinely monitor and take care of the soil and water condition, and remove extra plants. For already invested plants, spray pesticides and ground drenches for grubs are available, but some of them are made of chemicals.


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