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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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snails and slugs are most common garden pests
Photo 2 of 6Slugs and snails are among the most common garden pests.

Varieties of Pest: Chewing Types (2 of 6)

You likely have this type if your plants have leaves that are half-eaten--perhaps with foliage that looks like a "leaf skeleton." Chewing insects tend to eat on the leaf material between the veins. Distinct holes in the leaves also indicate the presence of chewing pests. Common chewing pests include:
Snails and slugs are one of the most common garden pests. They typically start eating from the outer edge of leaf. They prefer to stay where it's dark and cool, so inspect the underside of leaves for snails, slugs or the tell-tale silvery trail of "slime" they leave behind.
Earwigs, in their adult form, are the familiar "pinching" beetle. They eat both plant and animal matter and, in particular, are known to target Dahlias, Zinnias, marigolds, roses, lettuce and strawberries.
Caterpillars, cutworms and hornworms are among the most damaging of the chewing pest variety. They may chew into the plant's stem at ground level. One indicator that you have caterpillars or cutworms is the waste they leave behind in the form of black or green pellets.

Next Photo: Varieties of Pest: Sucking Types

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