What Bug Is This – Basic Tips On Identifying Garden Pests

Bug Under Magnifying Glass
insect id
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Experts estimate that there are up to 30 million species of insects on the planet, and some 200 million insects for every living person. It’s no wonder that identifying garden pests can be tricky. Nobody is going to learn the names and characteristics of each and every bug out there, but that doesn’t mean you can’t figure out who’s eating the leaves of your prized plants. Read on for information on several methods you can use to identify insect pests.

Bug Identification Guide

Garden pest ID is important. It helps you distinguish between beneficial bugs and bug pests in order to encourage the former and discourage the latter. It also allows you to tailor necessary pest control to the particular bugs involved. Now how to identify pests…

One day there very well may be a “bug identification guide” app for your phone that will tell you the name of an insect just by taking a photo of it. As of today, how to identify pests in the garden is usually done with descriptions of the bug, damage done, and the type of plant injured.

What Bug is This - Identifying Garden Pests You Spot

As a gardener, you undoubtedly spend time tending your plants, so you are likely the first to notice pest damage. You might see insects on a plant, or you might just notice that your lemon tree leaves have been attacked and your rose buds eaten. Any type of information like this can help you with garden pest identification. If you actually spot the bugs, you can search for their primary characteristics.

When you spot pests on plants, look carefully. Note the size, color, and body shape. Are they flying insects, do they crawl, or remain stationary? Do they have any distinguishing markings or unusual features? Is there one alone or a large grouping of them?

The more details you have about the bug, the greater the odds that you can identify it with an online search. You can also take the information to your local cooperative extension or garden store for help.

How to Identify Bugs by Damage

You may wonder how to identify bugs in the garden if you don’t actually see them. If you know they are present by discovering the damage they have done, you have enough to work with. The question then changes from “what bug is this?” to “what bug causes this type of damage?”,

Insects usually damage plants either by sucking or chewing. Sap feeding pests insert slender, needle-like mouthparts into the leaves or stems of plants and suck out the sap inside. You are likely to see browning or wilting, or a sticky substance called honeydew on the foliage.

If the leaves are spotted instead, you likely have pests that are mesophyll feeders, sucking out individual plant cells of leaves and stems. Another type of damage you might notice is plants with holes chewed in the leaves, trunks, or branches.

You can begin identifying garden pests by searching for whatever type of damage was caused. You can also search for pests of the particular plant affected. Any of these searches should help you figure out what insect pests are active in your garden.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.