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Pests on Vegetables

Select the pest from the images below for more information:

AphidsCabbage WormsColorado Potato BeetlesCucumber BeetlesCutworms






Flea BeetlesLeafminersOnion MaggotsRadish MaggotsRed Turnip Beetles






SlugsSpotted Snake MillipedesTomato HornwormsWireworm







AphidsAphidsPlants affected:  Numerous vegetables

Symptoms:  Severe infestations will cause curling/twisting of foliage, flowers to wilt and drop.

Life Cycle:  Eggs hatch on host plants in spring, these nymphs give birth to ‘daughters’, within days the daughters give birth—up to 30 generations per summer.

Cultural Control:

Ladybird beetles/larvae, lacewings are natural predators.
Strong jet of water to knock aphids off plants.

Chemical Control:  End All, Ambush, Doktor Doom Botanics

Cabbage Worms

Cabbage WormsCabbage WormsPlants affected:  Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, kale, cole crops.

Symptoms:  White moths in spring, green larvae chewing holes in leaves.

Life Cycle:
In spring moths lay eggs on undersides of leaves.
Eggs hatch and larvae feed on foliage, and will bore into heads of plants at base.

Cultural Control:
Handpick worms.
Cover new transplants with remay cloth to prevent moths from laying eggs on plants.

Biological Control:  BTK

Beetles on Potato

Potatoe BeetlesPotatoe BeetlesPlants affected:  Potato

Life Cycle:
• Overwinter in soil as adults.
Adults lay eggs in spring on underside of leaves.
• Eggs hatch, larvae feed on plants.

Cultural Control:  Handpick beetles/eggs.

Chemical Control:  Doktor Doom Botanics, Ambush, End All.

Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber BeetlesPlants affected:  Squash, melon, cucumbers.

Life Cycle:
• Adults overwinter in soil, emerge in spring and lay eggs in soil beneath plants.
• Eggs hatch and larvae feed on flowers, foliage and even possibly fruit.

Cultural Control:
• Handpick beetles.
• Dust plants with diatomaceous earth.

Chemical Control:  Doktor Doom Botanics


CutwormsCutwormsPlants affected:  Lawns, vegetable crops, perennials

Symptoms:  Freshly cut crops/plants—cut off right at base of plant. Worms curl up when disturbed.

Life Cycle:
• Eggs overwinter on top of soil.
• Larvae emerge from eggs in spring, pupate in early June. Brown moth (adult) emerges, and lays eggs which will overwinter.

Cultural Control:
• Handpick worms—cutworms are active at night.
• Lay diatomaceous earth around base of plant to cut worms or in rows when planting.
• Place collars around plants when planting—push collar into soil.

Organic/Biological Control:

• Water vegetable transplants in with nematodes
• BTK - spray base of stems thoroughly and often, will not control cutworms underground.

Chemical Control:  None

 Flea Beetle on Potato

 Flea BeetleFlea BeetlePlants affected:  Can be found on many plants, can be quite damaging to Potato

Numerous holes in foliage; similar to shot hole fungus but irregular chewed holes.
• Potato; pinholes on outside flesh, spots on inside. Potato can still be eaten, need to peel away spots.

Life Cycle:  Overwinter in soil beneath leaf debris, emerge in spring. Adults feed on foliage, mate and lay eggs. Eggs hatch, larvae tunnel into soil, feed on tubers.

Cultural Control:
Clean up leaf debris in autumn.
• Lay remay cloth over potato hills before foliage emerges. Adults cannot land on foliage.

Chemical Control:  Spray adult beetles in spring before they lay eggs; Ambush, Dr. Doom House and Garden.


LeafminersLeafminersPlants affected:  Swiss chard, spinach, beets

Symptoms:  Early damage is a slender, winding tunnel, which expand and become blotches on the leaves.

Life Cycle:
• Overwinters as pupae in soil, hatches late April. Adult lays eggs in tidy rows.
• Eggs hatch, feeding begins. They are fully grown in a few weeks then drop into soil to pupate.
• Life cycle is 30-40 days. There are three to four generations per season, mid-late May, late June and mid-August are peak activity periods.

Cultural Control:
Crush eggs early in season.
• Cover new plantings/seedlings with row covers so adults cannot lay eggs.
• Remove all affected leaves immediately, and ensure thorough garden clean up in fall.

Biological Control:  Water beneficial nematodes into soil when planting.

Onion Maggots

Onion MaggotsOnion MaggotsOnion MaggotsPlants Affected:  Onions

• First generation damage first seen in mid-late June as plants wilt/collapse.
• Second generation damage is in July; plants won’t appear as dying, as maggots are in onion—need to pull onion to observe damage.

Life Cycle:
Overwinter in soil as pupa. In mid-late May, develop into adults. Adult looks like common housefly, with longer legs, narrower abdomen.
• Adults will be seen flying around late May, early June, will then lay eggs at the base of young onion seedlings.
• Eggs hatch, larvae bore directly into onion. Will feed for 2-3 weeks, then exit the onion and pupate in the soil.

Cultural Control:
Thorough cleanup of all onion debris in autumn.
• Cover newly planted onions with Remay cloth to prevent adults from laying eggs at base of plants
• Do not plant onions in rows, mix throughout garden.

Organic/Biological Control:
Diatomaceous earth in furrows when planting, at base of plants.
• Water transplants in with nematodes when planting.

Radish Maggots

Radish MaggotPlants affected:  Turnip, radish

• Plant may wilt and yellow.
• Tunnels/holes in roots of the plants

Life Cycle:  Overwinter as pupa in soil, emerge in spring, mate and lay 50-200 eggs at base of stems, in soil cracks. Eggs hatch, larvae feed on stems, roots of seedlings. After a couple weeks, larvae begin to pupate inside radish/turnip etc.

Cultural Control:
• Cover seedbeds with floating row cover immediately after seeds are sown.
• Heavy paper collars or other sturdy material may be placed around the base of transplants to prevent egg laying around stems.
Drench soil after planting with beneficial nematodes.
Dust soil and foliage of plants with diatomaceous earth.

Red Turnip Beetles

Red Turnip BeetlesPlants affected:  Turnip, cabbage, radish

Symptoms:  Leaves defoliated, black grubs seen on undersides of leaves

Life Cycle:  Eggs overwinter in soil, grubs emerge in spring, feed on host plants such as canola, mustard weeds, rapeseed. Burrow into soil after feeding, adults emerge in June, feed until July, rest in soil then emerge mid/late July to feed again. Eggs laid late August.

Cultural Control:
• Removal of mustard weeds very early spring.
• Crop rotation.
• Dust foliage of plants with diatomaceous earth.

Chemical Control:  Avoid, as robins, ground beetles will feed heavily on grubs/eggs.


SlugsPlants affected:  Many garden plants

Symptoms:  Leaves shredded, ragged holes chewed into leaves, dried trails of slime on foliage.

Life Cycle:  Eggs laid all season long, hatch in about a month, feed heavily on plants. Primarily eggs overwinter, however adults and young can also overwinter.

Cultural Control:
• Trap slugs in shallow pans of beer (set at soil level).
• Sprinkle slugs with salt, or gather by hand when active (3am to 6am).
Dust underneath plants with diatomaceous earth.
• Late fall or very early spring till around plants, exposing eggs to birds and beetles.

Non-chemical Control:  Spread iron based slug bait around the base of plants.

Spotted Snake Millipede

Spotted Snake MillepedesSpotted Snake MillepedesPlants affected:  Corn, potatoes, onions and many other plants.

Though locally a fairly new pest to us, it seems that most often the millipedes choose to attack in times of drought, as they are seeking the moisture found in soil crops such as potatoes, onions and corn.

Chemical Control:  No chemical controls are currently listed for this pests, but traps have proven effective.

Non-chemical Control:  Corn Bait Traps - To make a corn bait trap, place a 1/4 cup of corn seed into a fine, mesh pouch/cheesecloth. Soak the pouch in water for at least 12 hours before burying it approximately 15 cm deep at flagged locations

Tomato Hornworms

Tomato HornwormsTomato HornwormsAlso known as a Hawk or Sphinx Moth

Plants affected:  Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes

Symptoms:  Severe plant defoliation.

Life Cycle:
Moths overwinter in soil and emerge in late spring.
• Lay eggs on underside of leaves.
• Feed for up to 4 weeks and drop into soil to pupate.

Cultural Control:
• If a hornworm is seen with white egg sacs on its back leave it be, those are a parasitic wasp called Braconid Wasp. They are a beneficial insect

Chemical Control:  None

Wireworm on Potato

Potato WirewormsPotato WirewormsPlants affected:  Potato—damage caused by larvae of click beetle.

• 1-2 yr worms are white, older are tan/rust.
• Tunnels throughout potato, entrance holes in outside flesh.

Life Cycle:
• Eggs are laid in summer, hatch in autumn. Larvae then take a further 4 years to develop. They feed the most in the 2nd and 3rd years.
• In their final year, they form a pupa in the soil in autumn, overwinter, and adults emerge in spring.

Cultural Control:
Crop rotation of minimum 6 years.
• Plant an early harvest potato.

Biological Control:  Water tubers in with nematodes when planting.