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How To Find Bad Bugs in the Garden

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Find Bad Bugs

Tips on How to Find Bad Bugs

As bugs go, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly – and all of them seem to hide when I go looking for them. Just how do you find those bad bugs that are eating your plants down and seem to be eluding capture? Many bugs are predators or prey, so they can be sneaky and excellent at hiding in your garden.

4 Pest Finding Techniques

  1. Look with your Peepers – Get down at the level of the plant in order to examine it. This might entail you getting down on your hands and knees to take a looksee. I use a magnifying glass and a garden kneeler to help bring my eyeballs a little closer to the insect action.
  2. Take a Shot – Bring your cell phone in the garden and do your best to take a close-up photo of the bug if you’re trying to identify it. Once you capture the photo you can send the photo to an expert who can guide you. A local university extension office is the perfect place for assistance if you need it.
  3. Search on the Flip Side – Insects often attach to the leaves from the underside (see top photo). It offers them a hiding place which is cool to eat their lunch. When you begin inspecting a plant, the first place to look is on the back of all the leaves. Gently turn the leaf over and examine each leaf closely for the opportunistic chomping creatures. Once you’ve examined the back, move to the stem. Pests love to hide in the cross intersection point of stems.
  4. Night Vision – Sometimes the pesky insects are nocturnal, which means they only come out at night. Bring a flashlight out on a dark night. Creep up on the suspected plant victim, pull some leaves back, then flash the light directly on the plant. You might see Asiatic garden beetles or earwigs scuttle away from the light.

Now that you have found them, you have to do something about the invaders. Handpicking is always my first choice, but if they’re fast and you cannot catch them with your hand, then spraying them with an organic pesticide is an option.

Fruit Fly

This season I am testing two botanical OMRI® listed botanical insecticides which have ingredients derived from chrysanthemums; PyGanic Gardening and Azera Gardening for organic gardens from McLaughlin Gormley King Insect Solutions (MGK). Both products can be purchased over-the-counter and kill more than 200 types of crop-damaging insects on virtually all growing crops, is OMRI® listed, meets the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) requirements. And, unlike using synthetic pesticides, there’s no need to wait for harvesting provided the spray has sufficiently dried, as it degrades fairly quickly. Even so, it is still a good idea to thoroughly wash off all veggies and other edibles from the garden. The trick is that once you find the bad bugs in your garden you must spray their bodies. Make direct contact with the application for success.


Boll Weevil

Special thanks to with McLaughlin Gormley King Insect Solutions (MGK) for sending me the two OMRI® listed botanical insecticides derived from chrysanthemums; PyGanic Gardening and Azera Gardening at no cost. How to find the bad bugs in your garden and encourage beneficial insects? Handpick and use eco-friendly approaches whenever possible. Find these OMRI listed products at

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