Controlling Insects in Your Vegetable Garden

Category Pest Control
Knowing what insects benefit your garden plants, helps you identify the ones you don't want. This page is about controlling insects in your vegetable garden.


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Next time you empty your pencil sharpener, toss the shavings around any any plants that might have bugs. Mix the shavings into the soil at the base of the plant. Most pencils are made from cedar, and the bugs don't like the smell.

Source: Women's World

By Lynda from Kearny, NJ

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July 12, 2007

Here are tips from the ThriftyFun community for managing insect pests in your vegetable garden.

Beer, Onions And Marigolds

Try using beer in a saucer to keep slugs out of the garden and plant onion, garlic and marigolds to keep bugs out. It works for me.

By marie

Tips For Specific Pests

For ants: Sprinkle aspertame around.

For slugs: set a shallow bowl of beer out.

For aphids: Use a spray bottle of water mixed with a few drops of dishwashing soap.

For corn ears and bugs: When the silk begins to appear, put cooking oil in a squeeze bottle and put a drop on the silk. Repeat every few days.

By Mythi

Spinosad (Green Light)

I have been organically gardening for over 20 years. The best insect control having chickens, but I have found Spinosad (Green Light), it is totally organic and it only kills chewing insects. For the first time, I do not have aphids on my Brussels sprouts. Banana peelings work on roses and on other things for aphids but not the Brussels sprouts. I handpick things in the front yard and bring to the chickens.

I have no snails because I have killer snails. Since I've been using the Spinosad, I had virtually eliminated all my bug problems. It works on whitefly caterpillars, loppers, grasshoppers, you name it. You just have to be careful that if you're raising butterflies, not to spray those particular plants.

By Babette

Organic Tips

Whenever I cook with onions (long green or round), I save the root end and plant it around my garden. It comes up as long green onion. Free, and it repels bugs. You can also cut the green tops and cook with them.

Marigolds. Lavendar. Dish detergent diluted with water for aphids and other bugs you can see. Hand-pick caterpillars off leaves; you can also use the dish detergent spray for them. Pick off any leaves infected with leaf borers before they spread, and make sure you throw them away inside, away from other plants. Seal them inside a plastic bag before throwing them away.


Good luck and Delicious Gardening!

By Denise

Feel free to post your ideas below.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

June 12, 2010

I am an amateur gardener and I am trying to grow a mixture of vegetables. Over the past three years I have been losing vegetables to all sorts of diseases and I am ready to do battle. I am growing: onions, lettuces, potatoes, peas, strawberries, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, green beans, green peppers, and corn.

My green peppers have begun to show tiny brown spots all over the leaves. It also appears I have spotted cucumber beetles and flea beetles. I don't really want to use chemicals, but I will if I have to use. I did use a chemical spray about two weeks ago because of the flea beetles on my potatoes. Please advise.


Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Jenny from Shippensburg, PA


June 12, 20100 found this helpful

Well, I am not an expert, but I have experimented a lot with gardening and I took a permaculture intensive workshop for 2 weeks, which covered a lot of gardening.

Sometimes conditions stress plants which makes it easier for bugs to victimize the plants. How is your drainage, spacing, watering. Is there another area of your yard where plants just do better, regardless?How about your immediate neighbors, whose soil must be similar. Any successful gardeners you can ask for tips or help? Call your local agri college agent.

I've been told to plant 40 percent flowers in amongst veggies. Discourages some bugs, encourages bees which fertilize more, resulting in more produce.


Since it's not clear what to do, for now, I would do two things, and see if it helps. Make a general spray of
water, red pepper/cayenne, garlic, dish soap, some salad oil, a bit of milk and spray all your plants lightly in cooler evening hours. [As for watering in general, water the ground, not the leaves.] Then get a bucket or pail of water with some oil in it so it floats on top, put on plastic gloves if it grosses you out, and go up and down all your plants and look for bugs and toss them in the water; as well look for eggs, and if you see them, pick off the leaves or area where they are growing and throw in water or plastic bag. Put out in garbage can, not in compost, in seal/tightly tied bag.
You can never tell when doing something drudging like that will tip the scales in your favor.

Check the ground. Is there something you think might be encouraging the bugs? I know we all promote mulch, but if you think there is something in your mulch, rake it up and throw it away in garbage so it's not in your yard, and put on another mulch. In general I would think bugs would not like coffee grounds, oyster shell, sand, anything gritty [lightly applied] like peat moss.

Sometimes collars around the base of plants helps.
Even if plant is already in ground there are ways of putting on foil or toilet paper collars. Cut lengthwise and tape.

The one thing we were taught in permaculture was to learn to know your little piece of the earth. Study it, observe it, under different conditions: time of day, time of year, drought, rain, and so on.Get to know your plants. And surprisingly we were told, if it's only a few plants affected, do what you can, but don't agonize. Some plants are just weaker.

And some years are just not great gardening years.

They are expecting major locust infestation in Australia this fall, so perhaps the life of a farmer or gardener is a life of challenge.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

Look at your local garden store for Bioganic. It's made by Green Light. It has organic herb/plant oils in it to discourage bugs of all kinds. The labeling says it is safe on vegetables and flowering plants. We spray it a little when we start to see evidence of bugs chewing up the veggies in our raised planting boxes. So far it has been great. We've also used it for some perennials where we needed to control whitefly infestation and it took a few treatments but finally got them under control.
You can also try planting some bug deterring flowers near your veggies. I believe Marigolds are helpful for that. Also consider purchasing a container of ladybugs if the type of pest you have would be a good match they could possibly help control it.

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June 16, 20100 found this helpful

Go to your state extension website. They will show what your areas are good for. Also there are sites which tell you how to plan and plant your gardens. What should be planted next to what. Natural deterrents. I know planting basil in the tomatoes is great. I keep posting my Epsom salts helps with lot of things, re Bugs, Blights, etc.
If you have an issue, mix your dish soap with water and pour on your plants. Bugs hate that. Plants love it.

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June 19, 2012

I have a vegetable garden and it seems that each year it is being plagued with some sort of problem. The first year was great, the second year, I had a problem with aphids. The third year, it was vegetable fleas? The next year, it was mildew and this year I am already seeing vegetable fleas. Is that the correct name for the little black shiny bugs that hop like fleas? If so, how do I get rid of them for good, using organic products?

By Emma H


June 20, 20120 found this helpful

Plants Marigolds inbetween those plants or add mashed garlic to water and spray.

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What can I put on corn ears to keep the bugs and worms from eating them before they are harvested?


June 3, 20110 found this helpful

Check out and check their archives. If you are talking about the worms that tend to get in at the top and eat the tip of the ear, many people swear by putting a little mineral oil on the silks when they start showing.

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March 20, 2011

How do you stop insects eating herbs, particularly basil, in the vegetable garden?

By carolyn from Sydney, NSW


March 21, 20110 found this helpful

Sprinkle with a powder called Seven, but after each rain it must be reapplied. It works.

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April 24, 2010

What could be eating the leaves off my cantaloupes and beets?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

By Judy from Burkburnett, TX


April 30, 20100 found this helpful

It's probably the same thing that's turning my rhubarb leaves to lace every year. There are some little fuzzy caterpillars that come out at night and munch away. Then the earwigs pick up where they left off. I'm going to try dusting them with white flour this year. I think it might be a good repellant, but we'll see.

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February 24, 2017

Many gardeners prefer to use natural remedies for common pests. This is a page about using black pepper for garden pests.

Several beetles eating the leaves of a potato plants.

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