24 Bad Bugs: America's Most Wanted

Find out which of these pests do the most damage in the garden and how to identify them.

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company Slide Set, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Bugwood.org

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of USDA ARS Photo Unit, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Photo By: Image courtesy of Bob Hammon

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Courtesy of P. Allen Smith and Donna Evans

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles devour more than 300 types of plants. Find out how to eradicate them here.

Leaf Eaters

Lily beetles are bright red with black heads. Both adults and young grubs eat leaves, flowers, and seed pods and should be removed. Learn more about controlling pests here. 


Green aphids or greenflies, secrete sticky honeydew on leaves and stems providing an ideal growing medium for black fungus known as sooty mold.  Find out how to fight them here. 

Vine Weevil Invasion

Vine weevils can be introduced into your garden in the roots or top growth of newly-bought plants. Always check plants and root balls before planting.  Learn more about controlling pests here. 

Cabbage Looper

Hand picking is one way to fight the cabbage looper. Find out more coping strategies here.

Tomato Moth Caterpillars

Brown or pale green, the tomato moth caterpillars love feasting on tomato plants. Remove caterpillars by hand or spray with pyrethrum or bifenthrin.

Slugs and Snails are Slimy Garden Pests

Slugs and snails are enemies of the home gardener. They can devastate a garden practically overnight. Remove all slug hiding places from the garden and nearby. Keep them away with the old-fashioned method of placing small containers of stale beer in the garden.

Carrot Fly

Carrot fly is the most problematic pest of carrots. It can make a large proportion of the crop inedible. It is a small black bodied fly whose larvae feed on the roots of carrots and related plants. Rusty brown scars ring the tap roots of carrots. 

Flea Beetles Attack and Kill Seedlings

Flea beetles eat small, round holes in the upper leaf surfaces, and attack brassicas as well as ornamentals. Heavy attacks can kill seedlings and stall the growth of older plants. 

Gooseberry Sawfly Larvae Attacks Leaf Underside

Gooseberry sawfly larvae attack leaves of goosebery bushes, and red and white currants. Adult female lays its eggs on the underside of the leaves at center of bush close to ground. They can strip the bush bare as they move outwards along the branches. Fight back!

Pea Moth

Pea moth caterpillars feed inside pea pods and are found at harvest. Consequently, pods need to be shelled with care, since caterpillars will be found alive inside the pod. Peas can be grown under netting to prevent female moths from laying eggs on plants.

Potted Plant Weevils

Vine weevil larvae in roots can kill potted plants. A dose of insecticide in late summer can control them.


Control whiteflies with one of these methods.


These pests eat the soft foliage and petals of flowers such as dahlias, chrysanthemums, and clematis. Trap them in pots loosely stuffed with grass, or spray plants with an appropriate insecticide.

Cutworms Live in Soil and Eat Cavities in Roots

Brownish-white caterpillars are a menace to root crops and potato tubers. They also kill seedlings and lettuce by ating through roots.

Wireworms are Problem for New Gardens

Slender, orange-yellow grubs are approximately 1 inch long. They kill seedlings and bore into potato tubers, onion bulbs, and other root vegetables.

Cabbage Whites at Larval Stage Devour Leaves

These yellow and black caterpillars devour the outer leaves of crops. Grow under fine mesh to prevent butterflies from laying eggs. Pick off caterpillars.

RIFA--Red Imported Fire Ant

RIFA colonies develop quickly; a new colony can grow by as many as 10,000 ants in a single year.

Fruit Fly

Rotten fruit is a siren song to the fruit fly. Find out a surprising way to get rid of them.

Ticks Are a Garden Nuisance

Avoid and treat ticks.

Squash Bug

Squash bugs are among the most common and destructive pests affecting pumpkins and squash.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants damage wooden structures to nest within.

Flea Beetles Kill Seedlings with Heavy Infestation

Flea beetles are common pests of many vegetable crops. They occasionally damage flowers, shrubs and even trees. Adult beetles are typically small, often shiny, and have large rear legs that allow them to jump like a flea when disturbed.

Leaf Roller on Canna

Leaf roller caterpillars often pupate inside canna leaves, damaging them as they begin to eat. Other leaf rollers attack fruits, ornamentals, and shrubs. If the infestation is light, squish the caterpillars inside the leaves, or unroll the leaves, remove the pests, and destroy them.