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Identifying and Dealing with Problem Insects

Many gardeners play detective -- trying to figure out what's chewing holes or causing yellow or brown spots on favorite plants. Here are some clues to help solve this garden mystery, as well as tips for dealing with pest problems.

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inspect plants closely
Photo 1 of 6Investigate damage to plant leaves, stems and fruit to determine what pests may be present.

Locate the Suspect (1 of 6)

Start by inspecting your plants closely. Look for the culprits under leaves and between plant stalks. Many pests stay on the plant at all times, and a close and thorough look will reveal the source of the problem. Other pests run or fly when disturbed, so you may need to "sneak up" on them. For instance, if you see a cloud of tiny, pale moth-like bodies fluttering above your plant, you may have a whitefly infestation. Some pests come out at night to feed, so you may need to check after dark using a flashlight. Snails and slugs, for example, tend to do much of their foraging in the cool and damp of the evening.
Next: Identify the Suspect
Once you've found the pests, then next step is do identify whether you have the "chewing" or "sucking" variety. This is critical since the specific steps you take in controlling and treating for insect pests are determined by the particular types that are attacking your plants.

Next Photo: Varieties of Pest: Chewing Types

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