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Got bugs? Here are 3 common garden pests and how to get rid of them

Keep those garden pests out of your vegetable patch!

It’s prime time for bugs, and your garden might be suffering right about now. If you have limp leaves and stripped stems, it’s time to kick the pests out! There are good bugs and bad bugs, so don’t go spraying pesticides without knowing the difference.

Horticulturist Sheriden Hansen shares three of the most common garden pests she’s seeing out and about right now. There are ways to get rid of them without hurting the bugs that do your garden good! Set traps and do some reconnaissance and your garden will thrive.

Find more gardening advice at


Top Three Garden Pests and How to Beat Them

1. Take a walk in your garden and you may run across many insects right now.

  • Insect activity is peaking in much of Utah
  • It is important to note that few insects actually cause problems – there are over 90,000 described insect species, but only 1-3% are considered pests.

2. With any insect problem it is first most important to identify the insect so that we can best treat them.

  • Once identified, I recommend using Integrated Pest Management (or IPM) to treat.
  • This means that we don’t reach for chemicals first, we instead try other methods to manage like hand picking, supporting natural predators, excluding insects with row covers, etc., BEFORE we use a chemical control.
  • When we do need to reach for a chemical, we want to apply at the BEST time to be MOST effective with treatment

Top Three Garden Pests in Northern Utah Right Now


  • They are omnivores, which means they feed on decaying organic matter, other insects, and living plants. Characterized by the large pincher on the back-end of the insect.
  • Damage/what to look for: They SKELETONIZE or remove the tissue around the veins on the leaves in your garden. They also attack and feed on soft-skinned fruit like peaches and strawberries
  • Management:
    • Remove places where they can seek refuge – mulch, garbage, weedy areas, etc.
    • Traps: oil traps (EXAMPLE), corrugated cardboard traps, sticky adhesive traps
    • Pesticide options: diatomaceous earth, baits like Sluggo Plus, many other chemicals that are registered for earwigs (permethrin, pyrethroid, malathion)
  • More information here.


  • These insects have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to suck nutrients and water from plants in the squash family. In mass numbers they can kill a plant in a day.
  • Damage/what to look for:
    • You may see sudden wilting that the plant doesn’t recover from at night
    • Plant yellowing and death
    • They lay copper colored eggs between the veins of the leaves
    • Small green and black nymphs (immature insects) will cluster around the egg masses as they hatch
  • Management
    • Best defense is to CATCH EARLY! Check for eggs daily and remove/destroy them (duct tape, squishing)
    • Clean up the garden well in the fall to restrict areas where adults can overwinter
    • Crop rotation and planting resistant varieties will help. Highly attracted to pumpkins but not so much to butternut squash
    • Traps – Wood, cardboard, shingles for them to hide under, then turn over and collect insects
    • Insecticides are not as effective as early detection and removal
  • More information here.


  • Chewing mouthparts that notch leaves, they can cause widespread damage, and like warm, dry environments – this is a huge problem for Utah farmers and gardeners right now (2021 has been the perfect storm for population growth)
  • Damage/what to look for: Notched leaves, plants that are eaten quickly.
  • Management
    • Can be difficult because these insects can travel long distances quickly
    • Usually most effective when whole neighborhoods create a plan together and apply the plan early in the season
    • Hand picking
    • Baits, dusts, and sprays can be effective in helping to decrease populations
    • Nolo Bait is a bait that contains a fungus that infects and kills grasshoppers
  • More information here.

Resources that can help:

Sign up for the USU Pest Advisories Newsletter and find information on insects that are a problem in Utah.

1 comment

  • Love NOLO. Buy early (IFA) the plant burned down a few years ago and sometimes it’s hard to find and sells out quickly