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Gardening 101: Managing Insect Pests

grasshopper jumping with Gardening 101 text overlaid

Managing Insect Pests

Do you notice little holes that look like tiny bites taken out of your garden plants? They may be from insects eating your plants, causing chewing damage. Insects with mouthparts, such as beetles, caterpillars, earwigs, grasshoppers, and leafminers can cause chewing damage. Chewing damage is one of the mostly widely recognized plant injuries. Here are some ways to handle this problem.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

  • Learn about common garden insects and the plants they often eat to help you know when and where they might show up.
  • Once you know what insects might cause problems and where, try adjusting your planting schedule to avoid times when the insects are active. It may also be helpful to rotate plants through the garden from year to year

Step 2: Monitor for Pests

  • Search for insects and diseases regularly. Checking plants often helps identify and target insects, which can help you control the problem quickly.
  • Remember to check along borders and interiors of garden areas for pests.
  • In general, look for pests and disease at least once per week in the spring and every two weeks in the summer and fall.

Step 3: Row Covers

  • When plants are young and at risk, use row covers to keep insects from feeding and/or laying eggs. Row covers are made from a variety of materials. The most common is breathable white fabric. Secure row covers in wind prone areas.

Step 4: Traps/Baits

  • If you notice insects in the garden, try using traps or bait to decrease the population. Insecticide can be an option, but there are also many homemade ways to handle insects.
  • Check out the last page in Managing House and Garden Insect Pests Safely to make traps specific to certain insects.

Step 5: Enhance Biodiversity

  • Plant a variety of plants to create diversity. Some plants, like certain herbs and flowers, may help keep some pests away.
  • A diverse garden will help attract beneficial insects and provide biological control for many pest insects.

For more help managing pests in your garden contact your local Extension office or check out these resources listed below.
Happy gardening!

Information summarized from UW Extension publications by Katie Shockley, Writer/Editor, University of Wyoming Extension Communications & Technology. 

Additional Resources

Learn more about managing insects in your garden with these resources from the University of Wyoming Extension:

Next up: Managing Plant Diseases [Coming July 24]

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