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Ground Level Garden Pests

Your garden can become dinner for hungry plant pests. Some of these pests can be seen on leaves and stems. Others attack root systems and live in soil. These pests can be trickier to catch before they cause serious damage. Check out which pests can attack your plants at ground level.

1. Carrot Rust Flies

Carrot Rust Flies

Carrot rust flies are tiny, black flies with orange heads. Larvae are tiny, whitish-colored maggots. After mating, females lay eggs near several vegetables. They target carrots, parsnips, celery, parsley, and more. After hatching, the larvae tunnel through and feed on the vegetable roots. They leave behind rust colored tunnels and can cause plants to wilt. 

2. Celery Leaftiers

Celery leaftier moth

Celery leaftier adults are brown moths, and their larvae are little pale-green caterpillars. They get their name from their habit of tying together plant leaves with silk. This creates a source of shelter for these pests. Larvae feed on the leaves, which can lead to damage. Celery leaftiers target a variety of plants including celery, cabbage, cauliflower, chrysanthemums, petunias, and roses.

3. Cutworms


Cutworm refers to the larvae of several moth species. They are about 1ʺ-2ʺ in length and range in color from gray, green, black, to brown. These pests hide in soil during the day and feed at night. They attack the stems or seedlings of plants, which results in the plant being cut down. Wilted and severed seedlings and plant stems are reliable signs of cutworm presence. When disturbed, these pests curl into a C shape.  

4. Earwigs


In some ways, earwigs are beneficial insects because they prey on aphids, mites, scales, and other garden pests. However, they are also omnivores and feed on garden plants including flowers, herbs, and fruit. They chew holes through plant leaves, buds, and petals, and they will eat your seedlings. These pests are usually brown or black and measure 1/2"-1" in length. They are easily identifiable with curved forceps on the back of their abdomen.

5. Fire Ants

Fire Ants

Fire ants can be a headache in your garden. If their nests are nearby, these pests can feed on some of your plants. Fire ants will eat some vegetables and fruit including potatoes and watermelon. They also target seeds that contain oil. Fire ants are one of the larger ant species, measuring about 1/2" in length. They are reddish-brown and can have an orange hue. Tilling your garden can help prevent fire ants. It disturbs their habitats, forcing them to go elsewhere. 

6. Nematodes


Nematodes are tiny, unsegmented worms. They can be beneficial by aerating your garden’s soil with their digging, but some nematodes are parasites to the roots of your plants. They damage roots and can cause root rot. Plants can wilt, struggle to grow, and have discoloration. They target the roots of vegetables, like potatoes and carrots, as well as flowers including chrysanthemums.

7. Root Maggots

Root Maggots

Root maggots are the larvae of several fly species. They feed on root systems and attack several vegetables including carrots, onions, and cabbage. Infested roots become rotted and full of tunnels. This can cause stunted growth, wilting, or death of the plant. Their presence can also make them more susceptible to fungal diseases. Root maggots are about ¼" in length. They have a yellowish-white body.

8. Root Weevils

Root Weevils

Root weevils are the larvae of some species of beetles. Like adults, they hide during the day and are active at night. These white worm-like pests infest the roots of plants. Their feeding causes damage to roots and can affect the health of the plant. Damage to roots makes it difficult for plants to get moisture. Adults feed on the leaves of plants causing notches in leaves. These pests target many plants including blackberry and raspberry plants.

9. Slugs and Snails


Snails and slugs are both part of the same class of animals known as gastropods. Slugs don’t have shells, while snails have shells. These pests hide during the day and feed at night. They burrow underground and primarily attack plants close to the ground or under the ground. They feed on the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants. You’re likely to find irregular holes on plant leaves. These pests also leave behind a shiny slime.

10. Wireworms


Wireworms live in the soil and are common in gardens. They are yellow to brownish-red in color and shiny. They measure up to 1½" in length. These worms are the larvae of click beetles. They typically target grasses, but they will also eat ornamental plants and vegetables. Larvae feed on seeds, young plants, and roots. This can cause stunted growth and wilting of plants. If they attack seedlings, they can cause plants to die.

How to Get Rid of Garden Pests

3-in-1 Garden Spray

Keeping your plants healthy is always a priority. When pests invade your garden, you need a reliable solution. Our plant-based 3-in-1 Garden Spray kills insects and mites on contact. It has repellent properties to help prevent garden pests. It can also help to prevent and control fungal diseases. You can use it on your flowers, shrubs, herbs, and ornamental plants. It’s best to spray your plants in the evening when it’s cooler.

We specialize in killing bugs, but we're all about keeping things "greener" and can help you keep your plants healthy and strong! For scientifically-tested, effective solutions for your home and garden that are friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest and fungus control professionals to be the most effective.

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