Watching your beloved plants being eaten by insects. You worry about what you can do to stop them before they destroy entire plants.
In this post, I’ve written exactly what you can do to get rid of these pests from your plants by choosing an organic method suitable for you.
Let’s look at the steps you can take.
Monitor your plant every day
I would suggest checking on your plant every day. This helps you find out issues as early as possible and deal with them. If there are insects eating plant leaves, you’ll see that and take the necessary actions.
My favorite time to do this is in the morning after I wake up as part of my daily routine. This has helped me take care of pest issues that would have destroyed the plant if kept for too long.
Identify the insect eating plant leaves
The most important step to stop insects from eating plant leaves is to first identify the type of insect. The treatment and prevention will depend on the insect attacking the leaves. If you use the wrong treatment, it won’t take care of the insect. In the worst case, it may cause further problems. So we need to be careful and figure out what is this pest.
Now there can be several species of pests that can attack your plant leaves. But I’ve tried to narrow it down to categories of common pests so it becomes easy for you to identify.
I would recommend you use my Pocket Guide To Identify Pests that makes it easy to find out what insect is attacking your plant leaves.
These insects suck sap from the leaves so you’ll see symptoms such as tiny, light green or white patches on the leaves. Some insects will leave residue such as honeydew, white or black mass on the leaves.
- Spider Mites
- Tarnished Plant Bugs
- Squash Bugs
These insects have chewing and biting mouth parts so you’ll see leaves chewed up or having holes in them.
- Japanese Beetles
- Flea Beetles
- Tomato Hornworm
- Leaf-Cutter Ants
Get rid of the pest eating leaves
Once you’ve identified the pest, it becomes easy to look at options for getting rid of them. I’ve listed the common pests below and methods you can use to get rid of them. Choose one and try it out. If it does not work, you can pick another one and try again. Click on the solution and it will give you more details about it.
- 14 Steps To Protect Your Container Garden From Pests
- 5 Reasons For Holes In Your Plant Leaves (And How To Fix)
- Can You Eat Leaves With Holes? (Gardeners Survey)
Handpick pests off plants
The simplest method to get rid of pests is to handpick them off the plants and drop them in soapy water. You can use this method for insects that are large enough to pick. And those that don’t fly or move fast. So you can do this with pests like caterpillars, beetles, slugs, and snails.
The good thing about this method is it’s completely safe, as there is no need for chemicals or pesticides. The drawback is this is only possible for certain pests and when the infestation is low.
You can’t use this method if you’re squeamish about picking up bugs. It’s important to note that handpicking reduces pest populations but does not eliminate them entirely.
You can handpick pests with your hands or using gloves. You could use tongs to pick large insects such as caterpillars.
You could squish small bugs between your fingers. Or drop them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them.
Water spray pests off plants
You can use high-pressure water spray to dislodge small pests like aphids, mealybugs, spider mites from the plants.
The benefit of using this method is you don’t need any chemicals or pesticides. You can use high-pressure water spray on a variety of host plants, making it a versatile option for pest control.
The water spray will remove pests and clean the foliage as well, especially honeydew that sucking pests leave.
Apply insecticidal soap to plants
Insecticidal soap is an effective and environmentally friendly method for controlling pests on your plants. It is inexpensive to use and among the safest pesticides available. This natural product leaves no harsh residue and is virtually non-toxic to animals and birds.
Apply the soap spray as a 1 to 2% solution, mixing it in a clean sprayer. It is best to apply the spray in the early morning or late in the day, covering both the top surface and the underside of the leaves. Keep in mind that water quality can affect the effectiveness of insecticidal soaps. If you have hard water, consider using distilled or bottled water.
It is also important to note that insecticidal soap does not have residual effectiveness as it dries or is washed away. High temperatures can also affect soap residue and potentially cause phytotoxicity.
Use neem oil spray on plants
Neem oil spray is an organic and safe pesticide solution for controlling pests on plants. Derived from the neem tree, it contains azadirachtin, an active ingredient that repels and kills pests.
Neem oil is a proven method for controlling a wide range of pests, including aphids, spider mites, and powdery mildew. It disrupts the insect’s life cycle and acts as a deterrent, preventing further infestations.
Unlike chemical pesticides, neem oil is non-toxic to humans, animals, and most wildlife. It breaks down rapidly without harming the environment.
Dilute neem oil with warm water and a mild dish detergent to create a spray solution. Apply it to the affected plants, covering both the tops and undersides of leaves. Reapply regularly for prevention.
Appl diatomaceous earth to plants
Diatomaceous earth is a natural and effective method for controlling pests in your home and garden. It is a powdery substance made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae.
The sharp edges of the diatom particles cut through the exoskeleton of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die.
To apply diatomaceous earth, you can use a flour sifter to sprinkle it on the plant where pests are present., It can also be mixed with water to create a thick coat that can be applied to plants.
Diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and pets, making it an ideal choice for pest control.
Use bacillus thuringiensis on plants
Bt is bacteria that targets specific pests and disrupts their digestive systems, leading to their eventual demise. This naturally occurring bacteria produces cry toxins that are toxic to specific insect species. Different strains of Bt are efficient against specific groups of insects.
It is important to note that Bt toxin is low in toxicity to humans and animals. When using Bt for pest control, always check the label before use, as Bt products are selective and only kill specific insects. Spray the leaves that larvae will consume, and time and apply Bt in the early morning or late evening.
Use beneficial nematodes on plants
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that specifically target and control soil-borne insect pests, such as cutworms, armyworms, wireworms, fungus gnats, Japanese beetles, turf grubs, and black vine weevils.
These nematodes have a unique ability to seek potential hosts by detecting the pest’s chemical signature. Once they locate the pests, they release bacteria that kill the insects within 48 hours.
To use beneficial nematodes, you need to select the appropriate type for the targeted pest and consider the light and temperature requirements for effective application.
Apply the nematodes by saturating the top 2 inches of soil and watering a second time to move them into the soil.
|Insect Pests Controlled||Beneficial Nematode Species|
|Fungus Gnats||Steinernema feltiae|
|Japanese Beetles||Heterorhabditis bacteriophora|
|Turf Grubs||Heterorhabditis bacteriophora|
|Black Vine Weevils||Heterorhabditis bacteriophora|
Use slug and snail pellets on plants
Slug and snail pellets containing ferric phosphate are a safe and effective method for controlling these garden pests. Ferric phosphate is a natural substance approved for organic farming, making it a suitable choice for those who prefer environmentally friendly methods.
Ferric phosphate-based pellets cause snails to stop feeding and retreat to their hiding places, where they eventually die. The effects of ferric phosphate last up to two weeks, providing extended protection for your plants.
Ferric phosphate is dissolved by microorganisms and organic acid, posing no harm to the soil. This ensures that your garden remains healthy and fertile.
Slug and snail pellets can be applied directly to the plants or spread around the garden to provide a protective barrier. Before applying the pellets, ensure that all plant leaves are dry and apply away from drainage points.
Spread the pellets evenly over the soil surface and around plants, as well as in sheltered areas where slugs may hide during the day. Watering after application will help activate the pellets and protect garden plants for up to two weeks.
Use a beer trap
Slugs and snails are attracted to the yeasty odors in beer, causing them to crawl into containers and drown. This method is inexpensive and can be easily implemented.
To create a beer trap, gather plastic containers with lids and cut holes near the top for access. Bury the containers in the ground, leaving about an inch above the soil. Pour 2 to 3 inches of beer or a beer substitute into each container. Regularly check and replenish the traps, removing any dead slugs.
It is important to note that beer traps attract slugs within a limited range, so it is recommended to place traps in approximately every square yard. The beer or yeast solution may evaporate quickly and can be diluted by rainwater, reducing its effectiveness. Therefore, regular maintenance and monitoring of the traps are necessary for optimal results.