Lawn & Garden Lawn Care

These Bugs Are Your Garden’s Biggest Threat This Spring

Spring has sprung, and your garden is about to burst into bloom. But wait! What are those holes in your rose leaves? For a happy, healthy garden, keep an eye out for the telltale damage caused by these 10 destructive insects that attack all manner of plants, including fruits and vegetables.

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Japanese beetles

Iridescent, jewel-toned Japanese beetles may be beautiful, but they can inflict hideous damage on your garden, where they devour blossoms and leaves seemingly overnight. At the first sign of attack, use a neem-oil-based insecticide, which is relatively harmless to birds, mammals, and plants. 

Related: 9 Best Buys for a Bug-Free Home


These tiny, sap-sucking insects feed on all plant parts, from roots and stems to petals and leaves. They reproduce rapidly, making it easy for an aphid infestation to spread throughout your garden. Discourage them by planting resistant flowers like marigolds and lavender.

Related: 10 Plants to Grow for a Pest-Proof Yard

Colorado potato beetles

Don’t be fooled by the name—the Colorado potato beetle is a major pest throughout North America, not just in the Rockies. These yellow-orange, 3/8-inch-long bugs will feast on your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and (of course) potatoes. Neem oil can help prevent an infestation.

Related: 10 Time-Tested Tricks for a Bug-Free Backyard


Wikimedia Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab from Beltsville, Maryland, USA [Public domain]

Larva-stage Noctuidae are particularly voracious. They earned the name cutworm because they gnaw on stems below the soil, cutting down young plants in their prime. Surround stems in diatomaceous earth to protect against these hungry caterpillars. 

Related: 8 Things the Exterminator Won’t Tell You for Free

Squash bugs and squash vine borers

Wikimedia Commons: Judy Gallagher [CC BY 2.0 ]

Zucchini and other squash are garden favorites because they grow rapidly and produce high yields. But beware of squash bugs and squash vine borers, two different species that attack the entire plant. Early detection is essential, so be on the lookout for yellowing and wilting leaves.

Flea beetle

This common pest chews irregular holes in plant leaves and has a fondness for radishes, broccoli, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, spinach, and melons. Use yellow sticky traps to catch flea beetles before they spread.


If your garden has resident slugs, you’ll notice the glistening trails and see big bite holes around tender young shoots. Slugs can eat their way through spring bulbs, hostas, lettuce, asparagus and many other plants and flowers. Diatomaceous earth and slug and snail bait can help control the problem.


Tiny, sap-sucking whiteflies are a problem for both indoor and outdoor plants, which wind up weakened, with wilted, yellowing leaves. Use neem oil and sticky yellow traps to decrease damage.

Rose slugs

Wikimedia Commons via Beatriz Moisset

Not slugs at all, these sawfly larvae will skeletonize rose leaves from spring through fall. To control, spray roses with spinosad, a natural by-product of soil bacterium that can be toxic to insects.

Related: 12 Fast-Growing Shrubs to Plant This Fall


In the wake of warm, dry weather, large populations of grasshoppers can infest domestic gardens, stripping plants of leaves, flowers, and any hope of bearing fruit. Be proactive by planting flowers like marigolds, daisies, and alyssum, which attract bugs that will attack grasshoppers. But accept that grasshopper swarms are difficult to control, even with insecticides; protective plant covers may be necessary.

Keep The Pests Away

With bugs in the garden, your best offense is defense.