Bad Garden Worms

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Caterpillars often feed on the foliage of plants and vegetables.
Caterpillars often feed on the foliage of plants and vegetables. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Gardeners often find worms and worm-like insect larvae in their gardens or yards. Many insect larvae and caterpillars are mistaken for worms. These pests often damage garden plants and vegetable crops by feeding on the tender parts of the plants.

Types

Cabbage loopers often feed on vegetable plants, such as kale, lettuce, tomatoes and turnips. Pale green in color, cabbage loopers also have light-green stripes down their backs. Another common garden pest is the cutworm, which cut plants off at their base. Cutworm larvae do the most damage to gardens and feed actively at night. Landscape plants may develop bagworm infestations. This pest spins silky bags, which hang from the host tree. Juniper, cedar and pine are favorites of bagworms.

Effects

Insect larvae cause a significant amount of damage to plants by chewing on leaves, stems and fruit. The effects of feeding larvae are evident during the growing season. Bagworms can strip landscape trees and plants within a short period. Bagworm eggs hatch during May and the larvae begin feeding on plants.

Control

Vegetable gardens benefit from certain insects, which are natural predators that control insect larvae by feeding on them. Avoid applying insecticides so natural predators are abundant. However, bagworm infestations often require insecticides to prevent serious damage. Apply insecticides in June, when larvae are small for best results.

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