What is eating my vegetable plants?
If you have a vegetable garden, you probably ensure your plants get the basic care such as water, mulch or fertilizer. You should also be aware of pests that could harm your vegetable plants. Understanding the types of garden pests is the first step toward controlling them, like the tiny bugs on the back of the radish leaf shown above.
Insects may hop, crawl or fly to your vegetable plants. Some insects, like the tomato hornworm and the cabbage root fly, seek only the vegetables after which they were named. The insects may eat the root, leaves or fruit of the plant. Some insects are large (the tomato hornworm I saw was the size of my little finger) and some insects are quite small, like aphids. Keep in mind that not all insects are pests. Ladybugs and bees are beneficial insects in a vegetable garden. For pictures and descriptions of vegetable garden insects, both harmful and beneficial, visit Texas A&M University Extension.
Deer, rabbits, cats, squirrels, dogs and some other four-legged animals can also be a garden nuisance as they may eat tender leaves or fruit, trample plants, dig holes, or defecate in the garden. Smaller animals, like mice or rats may also come to the garden for food. Of less concern are birds, which may eat fruit but then, birds also eat harmful insects. For a thorough description of potential animals that may be eating vegetable plants in your garden, see the
’s Integrated Pest Management Program. University of California
General control options