Pests. Insects. Bugs. Creepy Crawlies.

Whatever you call them, pests in your garden and on your trees can be more than a little annoying. They are that – swarming around you, ruining the beauty of your garden, and even depleting your harvest. But sometimes, pests are even worse and you need to worry about them – they can completely destroy a once healthy garden and turn it into ruin. For those who have encountered pests before, you start to jump at the first sign of a problem – don’t do this. Instead, you have to investigate the situation, figure out what kind of pests you are dealing with, and find out the best way to approach the situation. Often, this means contacting a professional.

And, as always, if the pests get too bad and you think that your tree’s health has been impacted, you should call a tree care professional as well.

Here are some of the invasive species that you need to worry about:

4. Aphids

  • Occur in colonies
  • Probably won’t kill a healthy tree
  • Can be hazardous to unhealthy plants and trees

Aphids are incredibly soft insects that feed on plant and tree sap in order to grow stronger. Usually, there are many, many aphids together and they can wreak havoc on your garden and trees. Once too many attack, you will see yellow and wilted leaves and a lack of sap. Generally, these pests will not actually do harm to the tree or plant, but they will not look good.

According to the University of Kentucky, there are some species that are particularly sensitive to aphids, however. This includes plants and trees that make flowers or fruit.

If you think there are aphids in your yard, you may find small green particles that the bugs leave behind. Make sure to keep your eyes open when it comes to this because early detection is the best way to eliminate them. If the infestation gets too bad, there are very few things you can do that won’t harm the other trees and greenery in your yard.

3. Cabbage Looper

  • Start slowly and then can completely devastate
  • Found mostly in the summer months
  • Difficult to eliminate

The Cabbage Looper can actually be one of the most beautiful pests that you can have – it is graceful and to see it fly through the air when it is in the moth stage, you’d think it was more akin to a butterfly. It isn’t.  Sometimes, people forget how bad they can be because they will attack one year and then go dormant for a few years, only to come back again.

They are dangerous – take it from the University of Florida’s Entomology Department: “Cabbage loopers are leaf feeders, and in the first three instars they confine their feeding to the lower leaf surface, leaving the upper surface intact. The fourth and fifth instars chew large holes, and usually do not feed at the leaf margin. In the case of cabbage, however, they feed not only on the wrapper leaves, but also may bore into the developing head. Larvae consume three times their weight in plant material daily. ”

If you see these bugs flying or crawling around, you need to eliminate them. You can do this by handpicking them off in the earlier stages – a gross but worthwhile activity. Or, you can work with a pest company and introduce some of the natural enemies of it. Otherwise, you just have to wait for them to fall off with the colder weather.

2. Flea Beetles

  • Mostly occurs in all organic gardens
  • Can impact harvest
  • Difficult to eliminate naturally

There are many different species of flea beetle found throughout the US. These bugs, small and jumping, are commonly found during the spring season in our area. They are extremely damaging, eating away at plants and leaving small holes that make our plants look somewhat like lace. Sometimes, the populations get so high that they can kill entire gardens.

According to Planet Natural, they mostly go after the following plants: beans, cabbage, corn, eggplant, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, lettuce and most seedlings. You can easily identify them because when you go to touch them, they will quickly jump – and they can go quite far. Of course, you can also identify them by the characteristic white spots that make them look like inverse lady bugs.

The best way to eliminate them is to plant crops that they do not like, namely mustard and radish. You can also use different soils or sprays to keep them away.

1. Squash Bugs

  • Sometimes confused with “stink bugs”
  • Have orange stripes for easy identification
  • Overwinter and then emerge in full during the spring months

For some gardeners, there is nothing worse to see than a squash bug. They are extremely difficult to eliminate and they just seem to cause damage over and over again. Just when you think that you’ve successfully eliminated them, they are back again.

According to, “These bugs inject a toxin into the plant and suck the sap right out of it with their sharp, sucking mouthparts. This causes yellow spots that eventually turn brown. The leaves will wilt because the damage prevents the flow of nutrients to the leaves, and then they will dry up and turn black, crisp, and brittle. The leaves also sometimes have ragged holes. Smaller plants will die, and squash bug feeding can decimate young fruit.”

The only way to really prevent a problem with squash bugs is to catch them early. Then, you use some nontoxic methods to eliminate them quickly and fully.

If you are looking for a tree care professional in Southern Ontario, give Van Till Tree Care a call today at (705) 653-3777. We will help you to better understand your trees and how to handle any green spots, pruning trouble, or soil issues that you may find – of course, we can also help you with many other issues that you might find for your trees – from the very top of the tree to the roots.

Header photo courtesy of US Dept of Agriculture on Flickr!

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