Your garden is disappearing and you don’t know why. Cabbage rotting, fruits falling apart in your hands, leaves sad and yellowed; what is going on? Then, you turn over a leaf and you see them. These evil things: insect eggs. Even worse, you know what they are and you just didn’t see them in time.

This happens to everyone at some point in their gardening journey. Whether it’s because they think they’ve got everything taken care of because they’re hurling Sevin dust everywhere (hint hint: that doesn’t work on some insects that will destroy your plants) or because their garden has never been hit: it will be. At some point, you will suffer a catastrophic loss in your gardening career. There is nothing that you can do about that except be ready for it.

…And know that you aren’t alone. That there is a way to come back from it. And today, we’ll be discussing the razed earth version of it. Let’s get started.

Fruit and/or Vegetable-Specific BeetlesDeadly Bugs For Your Crops

I lumped these together because there are tons and tons of them. Almost every fruit vine, tree, and vegetable plant has some little bug that wants to get into the fruits of your labor and ruin absolutely everything for you. Some, especially, like to do it close to harvesting time.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing big, beautiful cucumbers and then holes throughout all of them because the cucumber beetles showed up en masse.

The only thing that you can do with these is to research ahead of time what to watch out for. Each beetle will have a specific behavior that will rat itself out if you’re watching closely. Whether this is a particular pattern when they’re munching your leaves, droppings leaving marks on the plants before they become a real issue, or something else, you’ll learn to recognize these before the beetles can destroy you. 

AphidsDeadly Bugs For Your Crops

What hasn’t been said about aphids? They swarm plants, destroy them, and are a nightmare to remove. Some subtypes can only be removed by hand and by the time that you realize you have an aphid colony started, there can be thousands of the tiny little buggers. Who has time for that?

In all honesty, I recommend having a colony of ladybugs (true ones, not imitation ladybugs) on your property and near your garden. Depending on the exact type of ladybug you have access to, provide them with a little food to hang around.

Ladybugs love aphids; they’re their favorite meal and you’ll rarely need to deal with aphids if your ladybug population is healthy and happy. However, that does not mean that you can’t use a bunch of insecticides on your plants. Most will kill ladybugs, too.

Cabbage Flies and Their Terrible ChildrenDeadly Bugs For Your Crops

Cabbage moths flutter around your greens (so not just cabbage, it’s just one of the most commonly hit plants) and lay their eggs in the moist folds and near the roots then skitter off to do god knows what cabbage moths do. When the eggs hatch, their children are hungry.

Their terrible, awful children are absolutely starving and desire to crunch down on the wet greenery around them. And my goodness, they have such a heavy appetite.

Cabbage maggots can kill off a 4′ x 4′ plot of cabbage in less than two weeks. We’re talking about full, nearly ready-for-harvest plants destroyed down to the core in a matter of days.

Don’t go on vacation, friends, because you’ll come back to nothing in your garden if you have an invasion of cabbage maggots. Worse, you may not even notice this is happening if the moths are eating the roots beneath the ground rather than the leaves above.

The best way to get rid of cabbage maggots is to plant your cabbage early. We realize that this means trouble for replanting later on in the season because we all want fresh and tasty cabbage all year long.

Get your initial crop in and out as fast as you can. With additional crops, place your plants through planting cloth. This makes it tough for the cabbage maggots to dig down and disturb your cabbage’s roots, leaving you to deal with cabbages that are visibly affected on top of the ground. Our answer? Fire.

HornwormsDeadly Bugs For Your Crops

They’re so pretty but so destructive. Tomato hornworms are one of those bugs that will not stop until they’ve completely destroyed your tomatoes. Other than spotting their eggs on the underside of leaves, you won’t find them until you see them slithering up the stems of your plants and causing havoc.

Hornworms have multiple treatments available to kill them off, but again, these will kill off beneficial bugs, too. Honestly, I just hand-pick them off plants (use tweezers) and offer them to my reptiles or my chickens. This helps get rid of the population and it doesn’t take much time: hornworms are not extremely prolific in most areas.

Stink Bugs and Squash Bugs

Let’s get this out of the way: All squash bugs in North America are, indeed, stink bugs. They smell terrible when you smash them. Yet not all of our native stink bugs are squash bugs. They look incredibly similar and, to be entirely honest, it doesn’t matter which one you see: you need them gone. Sitting there and trying to identify the differences is a poor idea at best. Their intricate details are hard to see and both will damage your crops.

There is no good treatment that I recommend for squash or stink bugs and they are ultimately perennial until taken care of. My suggestion? Let your ducks and chickens run over your gardening area before planting and after the last harvest.

Let them tear everything to pieces and ferret out every bug that they can. They won’t harm your ladybugs (for the most part) and likely won’t bother your mantises, either (mostly), but they will happily eat every squash bug that they can. Over the years, you’ll deplete the population.

While we don’t have enough room here to go over every detrimental insect that can show up in your garden, we hope we’ve given you a better idea of what you’re up against. Remember: you can do it! And Happy Gardening!

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