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Cheat Sheet to Help You Tell Which Bug is Eating Your Plant


Give a plant the conditions it needs to thrive in—the proper sunlight, soil, nutrients and water—and you should be good, right? You go to water your happy plant one day only to find holes in the leaves. Darn bugs!

In a matter of days, insects chewing on your plants could render them dead from too much damage. Find out what’s eating your plants by learning about common plant pests and their chewing patterns:



Created by Safer Brand.

  1. Leafminer

What an appropriate name! The leafminer comes from the larvae of flies and beetles. These pests are not harmful to your plants, but leave wiggly lines and discolored splotches on leaves.

  1. Sucking Insects

Sucking insects are the box sucker, aphids, squash bugs and spider mites. These suckers leave yellow mottling, raised “pimples,” tiny poked holes and a sticky excretion like honeydew on leaves.

  1. Vine Weevil

Both adult vine weevils and the larvae are the culprits to blame when you find your plant’s collapsed. The larvae go after the roots, and the larvae eat the edges of the leaves.

  1. Caterpillars

Certain caterpillars like certain types of growing produce. There are cabbage caterpillars, tomato moth, and tomato hornworms, who will lay eggs on the leaves. Between the leaf veins you’ll find holes, and under the leaves, you’ll find black spots or “frass.”

  1. Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly larvae are the larvae of a type of caterpillar that causes leaf rolling and see-through holes in plant tissue.

  1. Leaf Cutter Bees

Leaf cutter bees cut half-moon shapes along leaf edges. It’s better to leave the bees be since they’ll pay you back by pollinating your garden.

  1. Earwigs

Missing leaf tissue between veins of leaves are damage to credit to earwigs. However, these pests are really plant allies who eat other bad bugs before they target plants.

  1. Japanese Beetles

Adult Japanese beetles chew on leaf tissue between the veins for nutrition. Larvae leave brown patches on the grass.

  1. Viburnum Beetle and Larvae

Severe infestation may occur with this beetle and larvae when entire leaves are eaten or mostly consumed by speckled holes. Typically, these speckled holes are found in the leaf between the veins.

  1. Cucumber Beetle

When cucumber beetles are the prime suspect, you’ll discover transparent circles on the leaves of these plants: cucumbers, melons, beans, asparagus, and squash.

Determining which bug is eating your plant is the first step to preventing further damage. Many pests prefer certain plants and leave uniquely identifiable chewing patterns. These bugs may be deterred with the use of insecticidal soaps, dichotomous earth, essential oils or the release of predator insects.

You may decide that your pests are beneficial plant insects, such as the leaf-cutter bee. Sometimes, it’s best to let nature do its thing.

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