Invertebrate pests can inhibit plant growth and vigor. It can damage fruits and leafy vegetables. Severely infected plants may die. However, before you can address the problem, it is important to identify what is wrong. If you are dealing with pests in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio or West Virginia, these are the pests you are most likely to encounter.
Most common Bugs in Ohio Valley gardens
Aphids – Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on many garden vegetables. Look for curling leaves and giant honeysuckle.
Cabbage Root Worms – Cabbage root larvae suspected when cruciferous vegetables do not die due to dry conditions. White, legless worms can be seen on the roots. Cabbage bugs – from burrowing into cabbage to chewing holes in cruciferous leaves,
Cabbage pests can be prevented through pest control methods.
Colorado potato beetles – Easily recognized by their cream and black stripes, Colorado potato beetles feed on potato, tomato and eggplant plants.
Corn Earworms – Hiding under corn husks, corn earworms crawl under corn silk to feed on corn kernels.
Cucumber beetles – Black and yellow striped or spotted cucumber beetles feed on squash. They chew holes in plants and cause bacterial wilt.
Cutworm – Suspect cutworms when looking for stems from recent transplants that have been cut close to the surface.
Flea Beetles – Barely visible, these shiny black flea beetles will appear in pepper leaves with tiny holes.
Grasshoppers – The long legs of a grasshopper can propel this insect up to 30 miles per day. Look for cracked holes in the plants.
Pinkworms – These large caterpillars are hard to find, but tomato maggots can be found near the stems of new tomatoes.
Japanese beetles – As one of the most recognizable pests of the Ohio Valley and West Virginia, Japanese beetles feed on the leaves of many garden and ornamental plants.
Onion thrips – pests of onions and cabbage, onion thrips feed on plants causing white spots and silver streaks.
Scope – appears as small brown spots on stems and leaves, scale is more common on trees and shrubs. This can cause leaf drop and twig death.
Slugs – As nocturnal feeders, these shell-like snail-like insects are not usually seen during the day. Look for sticky passages and damaged foliage as signs of slugs.
Spider mites – Finding reddish-brown spiders and webs under the leaves indicates a spider mite infestation.
Squash vine borer – When the cucumbers are wilting, check the stems for holes and the presence of squash vine borer larvae.
Beware of spotted lanternflies
The Spotted Lanternfly is the most recent threat from invertebrate pests. Native to China, this invasive species attacks a variety of fruit, nut and ornamental trees. Although it may have an insect-like presence, spotted lanternflies are a type of leafhopper that damages plants by sucking on plant tissue.
First identified in Pennsylvania in 2014, sightings of these insects have been confirmed in Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia. It is believed that this invasive pest will continue to spread in the Ohio Valley region, which has the potential to host a large population.
Identifying the different stages of the spotted lanternfly is not difficult. Adults are about 2.5 cm long and red on the back with black spots. When at rest, the forewings are usually folded back, but the reddish coloration may be somewhat visible through the translucent forewings with gray dots. The tips of the forewings have fine black lines.
Adults congregate in large numbers from August to October, when mating takes place. The eggs are laid in October and appear as mud spots on smooth surfaces. A group of eggs can be found on wood, vehicles, and other moving objects. This facilitates the spread of spotted lanterns to new areas.
The eggs hatch in the winter and hatch in the spring. All nymphal stages have white spots on the insect’s back and legs. The early instars are black, but the older nymphs have red highlights on the back. When seeing these pests in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, destroy all stages to prevent further spread.