The world is full of uncountable species, and insects make up no small part of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, not all bugs are welcome everywhere, and where they are not wanted, they become pests. The garden is no exception, and since there are so many tiny species that gardeners despise, this blog post limits the list to a few that apply specifically to vegetable gardens. Understanding the most common pests Maryland poses for your fruits and vegetables can help you protect your produce even better.
Aphids collect on roots, seedlings, and the underside of leaves. There are various species and they appear in various colors, practically covering the rainbow. They lay eggs over winter and hatch in spring. They are at their worst in May and June, but have plenty of predators to keep numbers down. To limit the infestation, do not plant infected plants into the ground. You can also aggressively spray water and an insecticide if need be.
Stink bugs are a well-known pest, annoying people inside and outside their homes. Although harmless to people directly, they feed and lay eggs on most fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes are popular among them. Adults are impervious to even highly-toxic insecticides, so prevention with netting or kaolin clay spray works best.
Squash bugs look like the brown marmorated stink bug’s elongated cousin. Like the stink bug, they emit a nasty odor when crushed and adults are hard to kill. Otherwise, they tend to be secretive and cluster together throughout life. They eat stems and leaves the most; when sucking on leaves, they leave behind a stippling effect on the damaged leaves. Look for them on stems and under mulch or leaves.
If you grow tomatoes, watch out for pinworms. These do most damage near their entrance into the fruit near the stem. They mine their way through and leave behind webbing, folded leaves, and frass (insect poo.) Remove infected produce to prevent further contamination.
Slugs, long-standing, common pests to vegetable gardens everywhere, eat the young seedlings of many plants, including strawberry. One can tell they’ve been around by the silvery trail they leave behind. A row cover or a jagged rock border can prevent their entry into your garden plot. To kill, spray with vinegar.
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