How To Stop Bugs From Eating Plants

We all love having beautiful plants in our gardens, but if we’re not careful, it doesn’t take long for them to get eaten by bugs. Just like us, bugs get very hungry, and your plants make a great meal; leading you to wonder how to stop bugs from eating plants.

If you are not keen on using harsh chemicals, there are plenty of natural methods for preventing bugs from eating your plants. And there are also some ways you can stop them from getting into your plants in the first place.

What Are The Most Common Plant Eating Bugs? 

Firstly, let’s look at some of the most common plant-eating bugs.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles eat hundreds of different species of plants, leaves, and fruit. Although they don’t eat much individually, they like to feed in groups and can cause a lot of damage. They chew on the tissue between the leaf veins, giving your leaves a lace-like look. 

If you only see a few beetles, removing them by hand might be adequate. Or for smaller plants, you can shake the bugs off and then spray the plant with a bug spray. You’ll have more luck if you do this first thing in the morning before the beetles have had time to wake up fully.

Aphids

These tiny, teardrop-shaped bugs love fruit trees, flowers, and vegetables. They leave honeydew excrement and suck sap, causing leaves to drop off your plants.

Try water spray, garlic spray, or if it’s really bad neem oil. Natural predators such as lady beetles love aphids too, so they may get rid of them.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are small, shiny and dark, and can jump like a flea when they are disturbed. They like vegetable crops and chew small holes into your leaves, but their real danger is that they can spread bacterial diseases.

A natural way to repel them is to use a bug spray made from alcohol, water, soap, or a garlic spray. Or you could try dusting your plants with plain talcum powder.  

Earwigs

Although earwigs usually do more good than harm because they love insect eggs and aphids, they also like soft fruit and new plant growth. One option is to use a pot of hay to attract them, and then you can move them elsewhere. Or you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth where you think they’ve been.

Caterpillars

Caterpillars love to chew on leaves, creating holes and getting into your fruit. These creatures get blamed a lot, but the best way to tell if a caterpillar or another bug does your damage is to look about for the frass (black excrement dots) left behind on the leaves. 

Thankfully, natural predators will often take care of caterpillars for you. If not, you can pick them off the leaves and rub off the eggs. Early morning is the best time to catch caterpillars in the act. One way to get rid of them is to use sticky traps to catch moths before laying their eggs. Or you could try using a neem spray, which is a mixture of neem oil and water.

Slugs and snails

These creatures leave irregular-shaped holes in your leaves, and not usually around the edges. They often leave a shiny trail on the leaves so you can tell they have paid a visit. 

If you go out into the garden at night with a torch, you can check under your leaves. And an excellent way to attract them is to leave out a saucer of beer.

How Do You Stop Bugs Getting in Your Garden In the First Place? 

Now we know some of the common plant-eating bugs, how do we keep them out of our gardens in the first place? Here are some tips for keeping plant-eating bugs at bay.

Attract beneficial insects: Not all insects are bad news. Certain bugs will happily take care of some of your pests. Ladybugs, praying mantis, and predatory mites are great examples. 

Choose pest-resistant plants: Some plants are more attractive to bugs than others, so you can seek these out. And if you mix your plants up rather than planting the same thing in rows, insects may have more trouble finding them. 

Keep plants healthy: Many plants have their own chemical defense system, so it’s essential to keep them healthy. Feed your plants organic matter, keep them in the right weather conditions, and monitor them regularly. 

Put up barriers: In some cases, you may want to cover your plants to keep insects, caterpillars, and other bugs out. The covers need to be securely pinned to the ground, so bugs don’t crawl underneath. There are several types of protection available so you can check out the different options at your local plant supplies store.

What Are Some Natural Ways To Rid Your Garden Of Bugs?

People are becoming more aware of how harmful it can be to use chemicals in the garden, and often the chemicals can kill more than just your unwanted bugs. Thankfully there are some great natural alternatives. And some of them use everyday items that you probably already have at home. Here are seven suggestions to get you started. 

Soapy Water 

Mixing a small amount of soap with water and putting it into a spray bottle makes it a simple yet effective insect repellant. This can cause many bugs, such as aphids and spider mites, to dehydrate.

Beer

If you are prepared to part with some of your beer, try putting some on a saucer and watch this attract slugs and snails. They like beer as much as we do!

Garlic 

Many bugs don’t like the smell of garlic, so try putting a clove of garlic in your soil, this is particularly good for indoor plants. Or if you grow garlic in your garden, this will also help deter aphids, Japanese beetles, and other bugs.

Banana and Orange Peel

Placing pieces of orange peel near bug-infested plants can be a great deterrent! Many insects such as ants and roaches will stay away as they don’t like the smell of orange oil. Another alternative is to boil orange peel with water, let it cool down and use it as a spray.

If you bury banana peel in the soil around your plants, it will keep ants and some other bugs away. It will also provide nutrients for your soil.

Neem Oil

This naturally occurring insecticide is a byproduct of the neem tree. It targets specific pests such as whitefly, aphids, spider mites, Japanese beetles, and moth larvae and leaves beneficial insects such as lady beetles and bees unaffected.

Eating leaves that have been sprayed with neem oil can kill some pests, and the smell of it is enough to repel others. Some pests die after eating leaves that have been sprayed with the oil, and the strong smell repels others.

Pyrethrum Spray

Another natural insecticide can be made by mixing the powder from dried chrysanthemum flowers with soapy water. This is good to get rid of flying insects such as mosquitoes. Growing chrysanthemums can also be a deterrent for bugs, with the added benefit of adding some beautiful flowers to your garden.

Diatomaceous Earth

If you are not keen on mixing up your home remedy, diatomaceous earth can be bought directly from a store that sells garden supplies. It is a white powder made out of sedimentary rocks. If you sprinkle it on top of your soil, it will kill ants, cockroaches, skugs, snails, and many other unwanted bugs.

How Do You Keep Bugs Away From Indoor Plants?

You can use many of the same methods as you would for outdoor plants, but there are some extra things to consider. Specific bugs are particularly attracted to the high humidity and lack of air circulation that is found indoors.

You may live in an area where you naturally have a higher level of humidity. Excess moisture can sometimes be caused by overwatering your plants or from the saucer under your pot, collecting the drained water. To avoid attracting bugs, make sure you only water your plant as much as needed.

Improving the air circulation in the area, you are storing your plants will also help reduce bugs. Make sure your plants are not too close to each other and not touching. Keeping them in a room with a ceiling fan or close to a window can also be beneficial. And remember to always thoroughly inspect your plants before bringing them in from outside, as you don’t want to be responsible for bringing unnecessary bugs in! 

Final Thoughts

There is nothing more disappointing than when you have spent hours caring for your garden, and then you see your plants being destroyed by unwelcome bugs! By following some of the tips we have shared, hopefully, your garden will stay happy and healthy.