Common Pests That Cause The Most Damage To Plants

5 Pests That Damage Your Plants The most

1) Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that are commonly found in gardens and on plants. They come in different colors such as brown, green, red, black and yellow.

However, they are typically green or brown in color. They are about 1/8 inch in size and have pear-shaped bodies with long, thin legs and antennae.

Reproduction of aphids

Aphids reproduce quickly and produce several generations in a single growing season. Females can give birth to live young without mating, which allows populations to grow rapidly under favorable conditions.

This means that aphids can quickly become a problem if not detected and controlled in good time.

Damage caused by aphids

Aphids feed on the sap of plants by piercing the plant tissue with their mouthparts and sucking out the sap.

This feeding behavior causes a variety of symptoms in plants, including wilting, stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, and curling or distortion of leaves and stems.

Additionally, aphids secrete a sugary substance called honeydew, which attracts other pests such as ants and sooty mold.

2) Spider mites

Spider mites are tiny, reddish-brown insects that are about the size of a pinhead. They are not true insects, but are actually classified as arachnids, which means they are related to spiders and ticks.

Spider mites feed on the underside of leaves by piercing the plant tissue and sucking out the sap.

Reproduction of spider mites

Spider mites reproduce rapidly, with females laying up to 100 eggs over a period of two to three weeks.

The eggs hatch in just a few days, and the new mites begin feeding immediately. This means that populations can quickly grow out of control if not detected and treated early enough.

Damage caused by spider mites

One of the most significant ways that spider mites damage plants is through their feeding behavior. They create tiny, pale dots on the leaves called stippling, which is caused by the removal of chlorophyll from the leaf.

As the feeding continues, the leaves may become discolored, dry, and eventually drop off the plant. In severe cases, the plant may become defoliated, which can lead to stunted growth, reduced yields, and even death. 

3) Whiteflies

Whiteflies are small, winged insects that are commonly found in gardens and greenhouses. They are named after their white, moth-like appearance and their habit of fluttering away when disturbed.

These insects feed on the sap of plants, and their feeding can cause significant damage to crops.

Reproduction of whiteflies

Whiteflies reproduce rapidly, with females laying up to 400 eggs in a lifetime. The eggs hatch into small, wingless nymphs that feed on the plant’s sap before molting into adult whiteflies.

The life cycle of whiteflies is relatively short, with some species completing their life cycle in as little as three weeks. This rapid reproduction can lead to large populations that can quickly infest a garden or greenhouse.

Damage caused by whiteflies

One of the most significant ways that whiteflies damage plants is through piercing the plant’s tissue and sucking out the sap, which can weaken the plant and cause it to become stunted.

Whiteflies also excrete a sticky substance called honeydew, which can lead to the growth of sooty mold, a fungus that can further damage the plant.

4) Caterpillars

Caterpillars are the larvae stage of moths and butterflies, and they are a common garden pest that can cause significant damage to plants.

These insects have soft, segmented bodies and can vary in color and size depending on the species. While some caterpillars are harmless and even beneficial, others can be destructive to plants and crops.

Reproduction of caterpillars

The adult moths or butterflies lay eggs on the underside of leaves or other plant surfaces, which hatch into caterpillars. The caterpillars then go through several molts before pupating and transforming into adult moths or butterflies.

The time it takes for caterpillars to reproduce depends on the life cycle of the particular species of moth or butterfly. Some species have a relatively short life cycle while other species may have a longer life cycle.

Damage caused by caterpillars

Caterpillars can cause damage to plants in several ways. One of the most common ways is by feeding on the leaves of the plant.

Caterpillars have strong mandibles that they use to chew through the plant’s tissue and consume its leaves. This can result in significant defoliation, which can weaken the plant and reduce its ability to photosynthesize and produce fruit.

In addition to feeding on leaves, some species of caterpillars will also feed on the fruit, flowers, and stems of plants. This results in stunted growth and deformities, and in some cases, kills the plant. 

5) Cutworms

Definition of cutworms

Cutworms are the larval stage of several species of moths that belong to the Noctuidae family. These insects are nocturnal and are commonly found in gardens where they can cause significant damage to plants.

They are so named because they “cut” young plants at or near the soil line, which can result in the death of the plant.

Reproduction of cutworms

Cutworms reproduce relatively quickly, with female moths laying between 100 to 200 eggs in their lifetime. The eggs of cutworms typically hatch within 4 to 14 days, depending on temperature and humidity.

After hatching, the larvae go through several instars, or molts, before pupating and transforming into adult moths. The entire life cycle of cutworms can take between 30 to 60 days, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

In the right conditions, cutworm populations can grow quickly and cause significant damage to garden plants.

Damage caused by cutworms

The damage caused by cutworms can be devastating to young plants. The insects will chew through the stems of seedlings, which can cause the plants to wilt and die.

In some cases, the cutworms will even pull the plants underground, where they will continue to feed on the stem. Timely and effective control of these worms is critical for plants.