This article is really really useful for all plant lovers because today we will look into the leaf signatures of the common pests and insects to identify them and take the necessary steps to eradicate those culprits from the garden.
How would you feel, when oneday on your early morning garden inspection you find part of your garden disappeared while you slept, or realize your flower buds are torn apart and very badly damaged?
I am sure after seeing this damage, Your first instinct is likely to spray some powerful chemical pesticide all over your plants to kill those culprits without even investigating further. This is not a right decision. Please Spend a little time to find out what’s eating your plants and then take necessary action particularly prescribed for that pest or insect.
Yes, Today we will look into Identifying those common pests by scanning their leaf signatures – that’s the leaf damage pattern they leave after feeding on your plants. So lets begin.
- Chewed Leaves or Slime Trails: If you seeirregular-shaped holes in the leaf (but not along the edges) and if you seeslime trails or lines, then most likely the Culprits are Slugs and Snails. So Whats the Solution? There are lot ofremedies for slugs and snails but Beer Trap is the most effective oneconsidered by many. Pour some beer in a saucer and leave it overnight. Thisattracts and kills these creatures. Chewed Leaves along the edges: Leafcutting bees are the culprits. So whats the solution? Generally unless its tooextensive damage, you need not take any step to kill or drive away these bees,because they are beneficial insects and required for pollination in yourgarden.
- Chewed Leaves with central holes in betweenveins – like Skeletonised leaves. The culprit here is Caterpillars if largerholes, then the other insects which can cause this pattern are Beetles, Earwigsand Saw flies. So whats the remedy. For caterpillars, hand pick and eliminatethem including their eggs from the leaves. After doing this apply a neem oil +soap solution weekly twice. 10 ml neem oil + 10 drops or 10 ml of liquid soapor shampoo and spray it thoroughly including the undersides of the leaves.
Discolored Leaves + Sucking Damage: Thisis commonly caused by Thrips and Spider Mites, common thrips are the CubanLaurel Thrips. As you can see here, the leaf is discoloured and then foldedonto itself to form a pouch or cover these creatures and its eggs. If leftuntreated, these thrips will multiply drastically and can cause a considerabledamage to your plant. So Whats thesolution? You can use the same Neem oil + soap spray weekly twice or can addanother oil like clove oil or eucalyptus oil if they are too extensive. If theystill persist, then go for a chemical sprays like those containing Imidaclopridas the last resort. If you still want organic solution like me, consideranother option called diatomaceous earth (DE).
Zig zag leaf mining Pattern: Obviouslythese are called Leaf miners. Leafminers are very tiny larvae of a variety ofinsects like flies, moths and beetles. Leafminers do not actually cause majorinjury to the infested plant, but rather give an unattractive look to theplant. This mining pattern of zig zag lines on the leaves are produced as thesetiny larvae burry and eat along the infested leaves. If you want to control these, Neem oil is thebest solution. You can watch my detailed video on leaf miners and its remediesfrom HERE.
Sucking Damage and Deformed Leaves and Leaf Curls: Common Sucking pests are Aphids,Whiteflies and Mealy Bugs. The mealy bugs are very common and are found suckingthe new growth and tips. Infact, Mealybugs as well as Aphids have a symbioticrelationship with Ants which protect these pests from predators and also carrythem to the plants. The Ants in turn get the honeydew sugars excreted out oftheir anus as their gift. So, Whats the Solution? I have been using theMagic organic mix containing multiple ingredients along with neem oil tocontrol these. But they need a weekly spray with this solution depending on theseverity. There are lot of solutions to these pests including alcohol basedsprays, neem oil and many others. Please check a video on this topic HERE.
Leaf Galls or Leaf Bumps: This is astrange and rare pattern which presents as tumour like boils on the leafsurface. This is considered to be due to irritation or stimulation of plantcells due to feeding or egg-laying by insects such as aphids, wasps and mites.