10 Herb Garden Pests and How to Control Them Naturally

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Infestation of Aphids

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Herb gardens are a great addition to any home landscape, providing a variety of flavors and scents for cooking and natural remedies. However, just like any other garden, herb gardens can fall victim to pests that can damage or destroy plants.

Fortunately, there are many natural methods for controlling herb garden pests, which are safer for both the plants and the environment. In this article, we will explore 10 herb garden pests and how to control them naturally.

What are Aphids

Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on a wide variety of plants. They are often called plant lice or greenflies, and they can cause significant damage to crops and gardens if left unchecked. Aphids have a simple life cycle and reproduce rapidly, which can make them difficult to control. 

They are usually green, but can also be brown, black, or pink, and are typically about the size of a pinhead. Aphids feed by inserting their needle-like mouthparts into plant tissue and sucking out the sap. 

This can cause leaves to curl, yellow, or wilt, and can eventually lead to plant death if the infestation is severe. Aphids also secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew, which can attract other pests such as ants, and can cause sooty mold to grow on the plant.

To control aphids naturally, try planting companion herbs such as basil, catnip, or dill, which can repel aphids. You can also introduce natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings into your herb garden to feed on the aphids.

What are Slugs and Snails

10 Herb garden pests and how to control them naturally
10 Herb garden pests and how to control them naturally

Slugs and snails are small, slimy, terrestrial mollusks that are closely related to one another. They are known for their ability to move slowly and steadily over a wide variety of surfaces, including plants, rocks, and even concrete.

Slugs are usually smaller and more slender than snails, and they lack the hard, protective shell that snails have. They are typically found in damp, humid environments and are known for their ability to damage plants, especially in gardens and greenhouses.

Snails are similar to slugs in many ways, but they have a spiral-shaped shell on their back that they can retreat into for protection. They are found in a wide variety of environments, including forests, grasslands, and aquatic ecosystems. 

Snails are known for their ability to consume a wide variety of plant and animal matter, and they can be both beneficial and detrimental to humans depending on the context.

Both slugs and snails are important members of many ecosystems, and they play a vital role in the decomposition of organic matter and the cycling of nutrients. However, they can also be considered pests when they damage crops or gardens.

herb garden pest pin
herb garden pest pin

These slimy herb garden pests can leave holes in leaves and stems and are particularly attractive to young, tender growth. To control slugs and snails naturally, try placing copper strips or copper tape around the base of your herb plants. Copper is a natural repellent for these pests. You can also try trapping them with a shallow dish of beer, or handpicking and removing them from your herb garden.

What are Whiteflies

Whiteflies are small, winged insects that are closely related to aphids and scale insects. They are called “whiteflies” because of their white, powdery wings, which are held tent-like over their bodies when they are at rest. Whiteflies are typically about the size of a grain of rice and are found on the undersides of leaves, where they feed on plant sap.

Whiteflies are a major pest of a wide variety of crops, including vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants. They can cause significant damage to plants by feeding on their sap, which can lead to the yellowing or wilting of leaves, reduced plant growth, and even plant death in severe cases. Whiteflies also produce a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew, which can attract other pests such as ants, and can cause sooty mold to grow on the plant.

Whiteflies are difficult to control because they reproduce quickly and are resistant to many types of insecticides. They can also spread diseases from one plant to another, which makes them even more problematic for farmers and gardeners.

Whiteflies are tiny, white insects that feed on the underside of herb leaves and can quickly multiply, causing significant damage to your plants. To control whiteflies naturally, try using yellow sticky traps to attract and trap them. You can also introduce natural predators such as lacewings or ladybugs into your herb garden, or try planting herbs such as marigolds or nasturtium, which can repel whiteflies.

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Heavy Duty Garden Sprayer Hand Pump Pressure Sprayers

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What are Thrips

Thrips are tiny, slender insects that are about the size of a grain of rice. They have fringed wings and are typically brown, black, or yellow. Thrips are found on a wide variety of plants, where they feed on the sap and tissue of the plants.

Thrips are small, slender insects that feed on the leaves and flowers of herb plants, causing discoloration and distortion. To control thrips naturally, try using a strong jet of water to knock them off of your plants. 

You can also try introducing natural predators such as predatory mites or lacewings into your herb garden, or planting herbs such as basil or dill, which can repel thrip. 

There are over 6,000 known species of thrips, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Some species of thrips are beneficial to plants, as they help to pollinate flowers and control pest populations. However, many species are considered pests because they can cause significant damage to crops and ornamental plants.

Thrips feed by puncturing the surface of the plant and sucking out the sap, which can cause leaves to become discolored or distorted and can reduce the plant’s growth and yield. Thrips can also transmit diseases from one plant to another, which makes them a major concern for farmers and gardeners.

Control of thrips can be difficult, as they are small and often go unnoticed until the damage is already done. Insecticides can be effective in controlling thrips, but they are also resistant to many types of chemicals and can be difficult to eradicate.

What are Cabbage Maggots 

Cabbage Maggots
Cabbage Maggots

Cabbage maggots are the larvae of a type of fly known as the cabbage root fly. These flies are small, gray, and moth-like in appearance, and they are found throughout much of the United States and Canada.

These herb garden pests are the larvae of a fly that feeds on the roots of brassica herbs such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. To control cabbage maggots naturally, try placing a physical barrier such as burlap or landscape fabric around the base of your plants to prevent the flies from laying eggs. Try introducing natural predators such as ground beetles or parasitic wasps into your herb garden.

The cabbage maggots are small, legless grubs that are creamy white and have a pointed heads. They hatch from eggs laid by the cabbage root fly on the stems of brassica plants, such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. The maggots then burrow down into the soil and feed on the roots of the plants, which can cause the plants to wilt, yellow, or die.

Cabbage maggots are a serious pest of brassica crops, and they can cause significant damage to both commercial and home gardens. They are most active in cool, damp weather, and they can be difficult to control because they are protected by the soil while they are feeding.

To control cabbage maggots, it is important to remove any infested plants and destroy them, as well as to rotate crops to reduce the risk of infestation. Crop covers and insecticides can also be effective in controlling cabbage maggots, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the plants or the environment.

What are Spider Mites?

Spider mites are tiny, spider-like pests that feed on the underside of herb leaves, causing yellowing and stippling. To control spider mites naturally, try using a strong jet of water to knock them off of your plants or introduce natural predators such as predatory mites or ladybugs into your herb garden. Planting herbs such as chrysanthemum or geranium can repel spider mites.

Spider mites are small, eight-legged arthropods that are closely related to spiders and ticks. They are tiny, usually less than 1 millimeter in size, and are found on a wide variety of plants. Spider mites are known for their ability to spin webs, which they use for protection and to aid in the dispersal of their eggs.

There are many different species of spider mites, and they can be found on a wide variety of plants, including flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamental shrubs. Spider mites feed on the sap of plants by piercing the plant tissue with their mouthparts and sucking out the sap. This can cause leaves to yellow, wilt, or become covered in small, yellow, or bronze specks. In severe cases, spider mites can cause plant death.

Spider mites are a major pest of many crops and gardens, and they can be difficult to control because they reproduce rapidly and are resistant to many types of insecticides. They are most active in hot, dry conditions, and they are often more of a problem in greenhouses and indoor plants than they are in outdoor plants.

To control spider mites, it is important to regularly check plants for signs of infestation and to remove any infested plants immediately. Insecticides can also be effective in controlling spider mites, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the plants.

What are Leafminers

Leafminers are the larvae of small flies that burrow inside herb leaves, creating winding tunnels as they feed. To control leafminers naturally, try removing and destroying infected leaves to prevent the larvae from pupating. You can also try introducing natural predators such as parasitic wasps or ladybugs into your herb garden.

Leafminers are small, fly-like insects that are known for their habit of laying their eggs on the leaves of plants, and for the larvae of these insects, which hatch from the eggs and then tunnel or “mine” through the leaves, creating distinctive, winding channels as they feed.

There are many different species of leafminers, and they can be found on a wide variety of plants, including vegetables, fruit trees, and ornamental plants. 

Leafminers can cause significant damage to plants by feeding on the tissues of the leaves, which can cause the leaves to become discolored or distorted and can reduce the plant’s growth and yield. In severe cases, leafminer infestations can cause premature leaf drop or even plant death.

Leafminers are difficult to control because they are small and often go unnoticed until the damage is already done. Insecticides can be effective in controlling leafminers, but they are also resistant to many types of chemicals and can be difficult to eradicate. To control leafminers, it is important to regularly check plants for signs of infestation and to remove any infested leaves immediately. Crop covers can also be effective in preventing leafminer infestations, as they can help to keep adult flies from laying eggs on the leaves.

What are Mealybugs 

Mealybugs are small, soft-bodied insects that are typically found on plants. They are about the size of a grain of rice and are covered with a white, waxy substance that gives them a mealy or cottony appearance. Mealybugs feed on the sap of plants by inserting their needle-like mouthparts into the plant tissue and sucking out the sap. This can cause the plant to become weakened, stunted, or deformed, and can lead to plant death in severe cases.

Mealybugs are a major pest of a wide variety of plants, including both indoor and outdoor plants. They are particularly problematic in greenhouses and other controlled growing environments, where they can reproduce rapidly and spread quickly. Mealybugs are also known for producing a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew, which can attract other pests such as ants, and can cause sooty mold to grow on the plant.

Mealybugs are difficult to control because they are resistant to many types of insecticides and because they are often well-hidden on the undersides of leaves or in the crevices of branches and stems. To control mealybugs, it is important to regularly check plants for signs of infestation and to remove any infested plants immediately. Insecticides can also be effective in controlling mealybugs, but it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to avoid damaging the plants or the environment.

To control mealybugs naturally, try using a strong jet of water to knock them off of your plants or introduce natural predators such as ladybugs or lacewings into your herb garden. You can also try using a mixture of water and rubbing alcohol to kill mealybugs on contact.

What are Cutworms

Cutworms are the larvae of moths that feed on the stems of herb plants, causing them to wilt and die. To control cutworms naturally, try placing a physical barrier such as a cardboard collar around the base of your plants. You can also try introducing natural predators such as birds or ground beetles into your herb garden.

Cutworms are the larvae of certain species of moths. They are called “cutworms” because they are known for cutting off the stems of young plants, often at the soil line, which can cause the plants to wilt and die. Cutworms are typically gray, brown, or black and are about 1-2 inches long.

Cutworms are a major pest of many crops, including vegetables, grains, and ornamental plants. They are most active at night and are usually found in the soil or hidden in plant debris. Cutworms can cause significant damage to plants, especially seedlings and young plants, and can be difficult to control because they are well-protected in the soil.

To control cutworms, it is important to remove any plant debris or weeds from the area around the plants, as these can provide shelter for the cutworms. Crop covers can also be effective in preventing cutworm damage, as they can help to keep the worms from accessing the plants. Insecticides can be used to control cutworms, but they are often resistant to many types of chemicals and can be difficult to eradicate.

What are Root-knot Nematodes

Root-knot nematodes are small, worm-like pests that feed on the roots of herb plants, causing knots and gall to form. To control root-knot nematodes naturally, try rotating your herb garden to a new location every few years. You can also try introducing natural predators such as predatory nematodes into your herb garden, or planting herbs such as marigolds or nasturtium, which can help to suppress nematodes.

Root-knot nematodes are small, worm-like parasites that infect the roots of plants. They are found in soil all over the world and are a major pest of a wide variety of crops, including vegetables, grains, and fruit trees. Root-knot nematodes are called “root-knot” because they cause the roots of infected plants to become swollen and deformed, and they can cause significant damage to the plants by feeding on the root tissue and interfering with the plant’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.

Root-knot nematodes are difficult to control because they are small and often go unnoticed until the damage is already done. They are also resistant to many types of insecticides and can survive for long periods in the soil even when there are no host plants present. 

To control root-knot nematodes, it is important to rotate crops to reduce the risk of infestation and to avoid planting susceptible plants in soil that is known to be infested with nematodes. Chemical controls are also available, but they are often expensive and can have negative impacts on the environment.

Conclusion

Herb garden pests can cause significant damage to your plants, but there are many natural methods for controlling them. By introducing natural predators, planting companion herbs, and using physical barriers, you can effectively control pests in your herb garden without resorting to harmful chemicals. 

Overall, using natural methods for pest control is not only safer for your plants, but also the environment and for you and your family. We hope you enjoyed this article on 10 Herb garden pests and how to control them naturally.

FAQs

How can I tell if my herb plants have pests?

There are a few signs that your herb plants may have pests. These include yellowing or curling of leaves, distortion or discoloration of flowers, and the presence of small insects or holes in the leaves. You may also see evidence of pest activity such as slime trails or webbing on your plants.

Are there any herbs that can help repel my herb garden’s pests?

Yes, several herbs can help to repel pests from your herb garden. These include basil, catnip, dill, marigold, and nasturtium. Planting these herbs alongside your other herb plants can help to keep pests at bay.

What natural methods can I use to control pests in my herb garden?

There are several natural methods that you can use to control pests in your herb garden. These include introducing natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites; using physical barriers such as copper strips or cardboard collars; and planting companion herbs that can repel pests.

Can I use chemical pesticides to control pests in my herb garden?

While chemical pesticides can be effective at controlling pests, they can also be harmful to your plants and the environment. If you do choose to use chemical pesticides, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid applying them to plants that you will be consuming.

Can I control pests in my herb garden without using any chemicals?

Yes, it is possible to control pests in your herb garden without using any chemicals. There are many natural methods that you can use, such as introducing natural predators, using physical barriers, and planting companion herbs. These methods can be just as effective as chemical pesticides and are safer for your plants, the environment, and your family.

How can I control aphids naturally in my herb garden?

Aphids can be controlled naturally by introducing predators such as ladybugs or lacewings into the garden. Planting a variety of herbs, including dill, fennel, and cilantro, can also help to attract these beneficial insects. Other natural controls for aphids include spraying plants with a mixture of water and dish soap or neem oil or using natural predators such as birds or bats.

How can I control slugs and snails naturally in my herb garden?

Slugs and snails can be controlled naturally by removing any that are found in the garden and destroying them. Setting out traps, such as saucers of beer or shallow dishes filled with slug bait, can also help to reduce their numbers. Handpicking and removing slugs and snails from the garden regularly is also an effective control method.

How can I control whiteflies naturally in my herb garden?

Whiteflies can be controlled naturally by introducing predators such as ladybugs or green lacewings into the garden. Planting herbs that attract these beneficial insects, such as dill, fennel, and cilantro, can also help to control whiteflies. Other natural controls for whiteflies include spraying plants with a mixture of water and dish soap or neem oil or using natural predators such as birds or bats.

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