Free Shipping on Orders of $25 or More! (Shipping Only Available to the Continental U.S.)

6 Signs Your Plants Have a Pest Problem

Insects have a habit of annoying people, but they also bug plants. When pests attack plants, they can cause damage that weakens them. This often leads to changes in the appearance of plants. Spotting these warning signs can help you treat the problem before your plants suffer severe damage. Check out six signs that there's a pest problem in your garden. 

Signs Your Plants Have A Pest Problem Infographic



Caterpillar eating plant

Holes in the leaves of your plants are one of the most common signs of a pest infestation. These holes are the result of insects chewing on them. Holes can vary in shape and size depending on the species. Tiny holes are usually a sign of sap-sucking pests like aphids and spider mites. They pierce the surface of leaves to extract plant juices. Larger holes can be the result of caterpillars or earwigs who actually consume the leaves. Weevils are known to chew the edges of leaves, which results in scalloped edges. You may also notice white trails on a leaf, which indicates that leafminers have burrowed in between the surfaces of leaves.

Wilting or Dropping

Wilting plant

Pests could also be the reason your plants have wilting or dropping leaves. Sap-sucking insects don’t just create holes, they can also cause wilting. When wilting occurs, leaves will become limp and can appear dried out. Aphids and scale insects are known to cause this damage. As pests feed on plants, they are reducing their nutrients and weakening them. The longer this happens, the more likely it is that leaves will fall. While an occasional leaf falling is normal for a plant’s growth process, losing many leaves at once isn’t. A pest infestation could also cause healthy-looking leaves to drop.  


Discoloration of leaves

If discoloration is occurring, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for pests. Spots are one of the main types of discoloration that pests can cause. Yellow spots can result from pests like thrips, spider mites, aphids, and scale insects feeding on plants. As they feed, they are decreasing the nutrients in plants. This makes it harder for the plant to produce chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color. Thrips may also leave behind a streak of silver on the leaf after feeding. If you notice white spots, you may want to take a closer look. Mealybugs have a white, fuzzy body that could be mistaken for spots.

Stunted Growth

Stunted plant growth

If your plants aren’t growing like they should, insects could be the problem. As pests feed on plants, whether by sucking sap or chewing on leaves, the plant is weakened. This means the plant has to divert its energy to healing itself instead of producing growth. Pest populations are able to increase quickly, which only means more pests will be feeding on your plants. This can cause new leaves to be killed or lack of any growth. If the pest problem isn’t eliminated, then the entire plant could be lost. Pests like mealybugs, scale insects, and whiteflies are known to hinder plant growth.


Aphids on plant

When insects feed on plants, they often secrete a sticky substance called honeydew. If your plants have areas covered with a clear, sticky substance, pests are likely responsible. Aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies, and scale insects are some of the pests that are known for leaving behind honeydew. This substance is usually found on the leaves of plants. Honeydew won’t actually harm your plant, but it can promote black sooty mold growth. Spotting this mold can also help you identify a pest problem.  

Increase in Insect Activity

Ant on leaf of plant

A sudden increase in insect activity in your yard could be a warning sign of garden pest problems. Honeydew is known to attract a variety of insects including ants and flies. Ants will actually protect honeydew-producing aphids in order to consume the substance. Pests on your plants can also attract insects that are searching for food. Ladybugs consume large quantities of aphids, and lacewings eat mites and thrips. If your garden has become a new hangout spot for these insects, you may want to inspect your plants for pests.


If you notice your plants have any of these symptoms or new bugs are hanging around, take some time to inspect your garden. Check for pests under the leaves and near the stem and soil. If pests are threatening the health of your plants, we want to help! Check out our Maggie’s Farm Simply Effective™ 3-in-1 Garden Spray.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published