Controlling Destructive Insects In Your Garden

Learn how to control destructive insects in your garden.

Learn how to control destructive insects in your garden.

Insects can be very destructive to plants in your garden but can be controlled with simple and nontoxic methods. It’s important to try environmentally friendly methods first, as chemicals can have detrimental effects on your garden and other insects that are helpful to your plants. Continue reading to learn how to control a few common destructive insects in your garden.


Aphids are small, grape-shaped insects that like fruits, vegetables, flowers, and shade trees in North America. While low numbers of aphids are typically not harmful to plants, heavy infestations can be destructive to your garden. They suck plant sap, which causes foliage to distort and leaves to drop, and several species of aphids can transmit plant diseases.

To control aphids, you have a few options, including spraying plants with a strong spray of water, cover plants with floating row covers when possible, or apply a hot-pepper repellent spray. For severe infestations that need a stronger repellent, apply horticultural oils, and dave fast-acting botanical insecticides as your last option.


Caterpillars are found in gardens all over the U.S. and are known for chewing on leaves or tunneling into fruits. The larvae are found on various fruits and vegetables, ornamentals, and shade trees. To control caterpillars from destroying plants in your garden, encourage native predators and parasites to your lawn, and apply floating row covers over plants.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles range from white grubs as larvae, to ½-inch adult beetles. They are often found in vegetables, flowers, and small fruits on the east coast of the U.S. Larvae tend to feed on lawn and plant roots, while adult beetles chew on flowers and may defoliate plants. To control these insects in your garden, shake beetles from plants in the mornings over a container of soapy water, and use floating row covers on low plants. Also, maintain neutral soil pH in the summer, as lawns irrigated during summer will attract the beetles to lay eggs.

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