ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — If your garden is thriving right now, there’s a chance you have some unwelcome guests. That’s where Scott Baker from the Virginia Cooperative Extension in Bedford comes in. Baker gave us All The Dirt on some of the pests you might encounter in the garden in June and how to deal with them. 

 Here are some of the most common pests Baker says you’ll likely see in your garden:

  • Flea beetles (eggplant and tomatoes)
  • Colorado potato beetle (potatoes and tomatoes)
  • Imported cabbage worm/cabbage loopers (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower)
  • Mexican bean beetle (green beans)
  • Corn earworms (sweet corn)
  • Tomato hornworms (tomatoes)
  • Spotted/striped cucumber beetles (cucumbers)
  • Harlequin bugs (all cucurbits – broccoli and cabbage especially)
  • Squash bugs (summer squash)
  • Squash vine borer (summer squash)

You might gravitate toward grabbing the pesticide if you see bugs destroying crops in your garden. But Baker stresses the use of IPM — that’s integrated pest management.

Baker says to think of it as a toolbox where you have many tools to help manage garden pests. 

This picture shows the lady beetle surrounded by its food source (aphids!) Photo: Virginia Cooperative Extension

There are 5 main tools:

  • Plant resistance – some cultivars of veggies have been bred to have some resistance to certain pests (more so disease resistance vs. insect resistance)
  • Cultural – healthy soil, crop rotation, right plant/right place/right time, sanitation
  • Mechanical – hand picking insects, pulling weeds
  • Biological – beneficial insects (ladybugs love aphids)
  • Chemical (pesticides)

By utilizing the tools of IPM, Baker says you can minimize the pests to begin with. Then, if you have pests, by taking this integrated approach, you keep your plants healthy, scout and find problems early, then use the most appropriate IPM tools to address these pests.

 A tomato hornworm parasitized by a beneficial wasp.  This wasp lays her eggs on the worm.  The eggs use the worm as a food source while they develop.  Once they hatch the worm dies and now you have more beneficial wasps (which feed on other bad insects). Photo Courtesy: Virginia Cooperative Extension