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Bug on a leaf

Pest S.O.S. 12 Most Common Summer Pests Part 2

Gardeners water, feed, pinch, prune, and putz so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor–not to invite unwanted pests. Learn to identify and prevent four common summer garden pests: earwigs, Harlequin bugs, leaf miners, and voles.


Description: Approximately half-inch dark brown/black bugs with a segmented torso and pincers.

Damage: Earwigs have chewing mouth parts which can cause irregular holes from feeding on soft new growth, seedlings, and fruit. They also feed on other small, soft-bodied insects such as aphids, and can be considered a beneficial insect.

Common Hosts: corn, berries, stone fruits, flowers, and the seedlings of all types of plants.

  • Sanitation. Earwigs tend to congregate in cool, moist places during the day and come out to feed at night. Avoid creating a pleasant environment for them by cleaning up dropped fruit, eliminating debris piles, and using a drip system rather than spray irrigation to eliminate excess moisture.
  • Traps. Create a trap for earwigs using a rolled-up newspaper, placed low to the ground near the plants which are being damaged. In the morning, dump the earwigs which have congregated in the newspaper into a bucket of soapy water.
Baits such as Sluggo Plus are an effective method of control. Begin surrounding the host plants with bait as soon as the fruit begins to ripen, or just as the seedlings sprout. Reapply often for best results.

Harlequin Bug

Description: Harlequin bugs are a type of stink bug with a shield-shaped black body and red markings.

Damage: All types of stink bugs have sucking mouth parts which they use to bite off plant tissue and suck out the juices, leaving discolored blotches behind.

Common Hosts: All plants. They are especially fond of plants in the mustard family when other food sources are unavailable.

Prevention: Eliminate Weeds. All stink bugs feed on weeds in the winter. Eliminating weeds as a food source will help keep populations down.

Control: Stink bugs are hard to control, as most pesticides are not very effective against them. Most pest control programs recommend attracting natural predators to your garden, such as green lacewings, damsel bugs, assassin bugs, spiders, and minute pirate bugs to control these summer pests.

Leaf Miner

Description: Leaf miner larvae are small yellowish maggots, the adults are striped black and yellow flies that resemble syrphid flies.

Damage: Adults lay their eggs on the leaves, where they burrow under the surface and chew tunnels through the leaf tissue. The damage is usually superficial and rarely fatal to the plant.

Common Hosts: Almost all plants, including many varieties of vegetables and flowers.


  • Keep your plants healthy. Prevent them from becoming stressed, which attracts opportunistic pests. Remove leaves to slow leaf miner damage and prevent them from spreading.
  • Attract beneficial insects. Leaf miners can usually be controlled by their natural predators, so planting a variety of flowers that bloom during all seasons to attract beneficial insects can be an effective method of prevention.
Control: Spray plants with an organic spinosad-based insecticide such as Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. It is usually enough to deter them, and it is safe to use on edibles.


Description: Brown fuzzy rodents that resemble small rats. They breed profusely and their populations fluctuate cyclically, sometimes skyrocketing when conditions are favorable.

Damage: Chewing on leaves and roots of herbaceous plants and the bark of trees. They can even ‘girdle’ a tree by chewing around the entire circumference of the trunk, preventing the flow of water and nutrients and killing the tree.

Common Hosts: Grasses, herbaceous plants, woody plants, bulbs, and tubers.


  • Remove dense, overgrown groundcovers. That will eliminate hideaways, forcing voles out into the open where they are more exposed to predators.
  • Use chicken wire or metal fencing to keep them out of landscaped areas. They can still burrow in occasionally, but the fencing will help keep some out. Metal barriers are also a good way of protecting the lower trunk of trees or the roots of young plants.
Control: Repellents such as Mole Max, when combined with the above methods of prevention, can be very effective. Burrow fumigants are not usually effective, as voles tend to create shallow tunnels with many entrances exposed to air.

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