How to Identify and Remove Common Garden Pests

Humans can't avoid getting ill, and plants can't escape pests and diseases. Fortunately, most can be countered or minimized by organic or inorganic means and, except in rare cases, the garden will continue to look amazing.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios
  • Water Pathogenic Nematodes into Potting Mix

    Preventing Attacks

    Selective biological control involves watering pathogenic nematodes (microscopic animals) into potting mix, when it is at a certain temperature, to kill vine weevils and slugs (don't use in conjunction with chemical controls). Other biological controls are available for red spider mite, whitefly and aphids.

  • Take Precautions Using Chemicals on Plants

    Chemical Controls

    Use chemicals only when really necessary (not for minor infestations at the end of summer, for example). Select the appropriate product, follow the manufacturer's instructions, store safely, keep away from children, never mix with other chemicals and use in the early evening or morning on windless days.

  • Friendly Predators are Good for Garden Pests

    Encouraging Friendly Predators

    Rather than using chemicals, which can enter and poison the food chain, create sites for wildlife, such as ladybugs, frogs and birds, which eat slugs, aphids and other undesirables. Infestations won't be wiped out instantly, as with chemicals, but you should notice the effects in the long term.

  • Silver Whitish Mottling Caused by Thrips


    Also called thunderflies, these tiny, black, narrow sap-sucking insects strike in hot, dry conditions causing silver-whitish mottling.

  • Vine Weevil Larvae Eat Roots of Plants

    Vine Weevils

    Fat, whitish, legless subsoil larvae with brown heads that eat a plant's roots, causing death. The adults are black beetles.

  • Leaf Miner Larvae Attacks Leaves of Plants

    Leaf Miners

    The mine — the white or brown dried-up part of the leaf — is caused by larvae of flies. They attack chrysanthemums and related plants.

  • Red Spider Mites Attack Plants in Dry Conditions

    Red Spider Mites

    Minuscule spider mites (reddish in winter) appear in warm, dry conditions, under the leaves, which turn yellowish white.

  • Lily Beetles Attack Lilies and Fritillaries

    Lily Beetles

    Easy-to-spot bright red beetles with black heads, found on lilies and fritillaries. It is a recent arrival from Europe.

  • Caterpillars Attack Plant Leaves, Stems and Roots


    The larvae of moths and butterflies. Most caterpillars feed on leaves, but some attack stems and roots as well.

  • Scale Insects Feed on Plant Foliage and Stems

    Scale Insects

    Tiny brown or grayish white, sap-feeding insects, found on foliage and stems. Some excrete a sticky honeydew.

  • Aphids Stunt the Growth of Plants


    Small sap-sucking insects that multiply rapidly, stunting growth. Act quickly because they reproduce at an alarming rate.

  • Slugs and Snails Chomp through Stems and Leaves

    Slugs and Snails

    Inescapable, slimy, night-feeding mollusks that chomp through soft new stems, flowers and leaves, and destroy seedlings.

Excerpted from Simple Steps: Containers for Patios

©Dorling Kindersley Limited 2007

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