Pests of vegetable gardens

People garden for a variety of reasons, but the satisfaction of raising fresh, wholesome foods, free of pesticides is high on the list.

People garden for a variety of reasons, but the satisfaction of raising fresh, safe, wholesome foods is high on the list. Photo courtesy Education Community Garden, Urban Solutions Center, Dallas.

Talk to most vegetable gardeners and you’ll quickly find that pests and pesticides are hot-button topics. While pests are strongly disliked, most gardeners are reluctant to use pesticides on fruits and vegetables in their own gardens. This is understandable. While most of us, to varying degrees, accept the need for pesticides in commercial food production, the home vegetable garden is seen almost universally as the best place to get fresh, wholesome produce–without pesticides. Fortunately, you can grow produce in your home garden with minimal use of artificial pest control products. Using less and safer pesticides, however, means knowing more about pests and pest control methods.

General garden pest control


  • Identifying common caterpillar pests of vegetables (E-532)
    A detailed identification guide to caterpillars found in Texas vegetable crops.  Written for commercial growers, the fact sheet is provided with numerous color pictures that will help home gardeners accurately identify most of these insects.  No control information.
  • Earwigs (E-213) With their pincers and distinctive shape, earwigs are one of the most commonly noticed soil-inhabiting garden arthropods. While earwigs are rarely serious pests, you will want to know more about these interesting insects.
  • Pillbugs (ENT-1006)
    An under-appreciated garden pest, that is also one of the most common arthropods in gardens and landscapes.  Don’t underestimate the damage pillbugs can do to some garden plants.

Pest control methods

There are many other AgriLife publications on general gardening.  Most of these have been recently updated and given a clean, new look.  Check them out by going to and searching on the keyword “vegetable”.

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