There are more different types of insects in the world than even the entomologists can count accurately. For the home gardener, perhaps it is more important to divide insects into categories based on how they feed or inflict damage to their plants. Knowing how an insect feeds can help to identify that insect which is the first step on the way to determining what, if any, control measures would be effective.

Generally, landscape insect pests can be divided into the following groupings:

1. Chewing Insects - These critters have mouth parts that are capable of taking a bite out of a leaf, root or stem. The sign that they have been feeding will be holes or missing plant parts. Tops among the chewing insects would be the caterpillars, beetles and plant bugs.

2. Sucking Insects - This category of insects live by sticking their proboscis (snout) into the plant tissue and then they suck out the nutrient rich sap. In large numbers, they may pull out enough sap to cause severe stress to the plant. Key sucking insects would include aphids, leafhoppers and a relative of spiders called spider mites.

Often, these insects suck out the chlorophyll as they feed causing the plant to turn yellow with a "stippled" effect. Another sign is often the appearance of a black covering on leaves called sooty mold. As the insects feed, their droppings which consist of a sweet, sticky material, drops onto the leaves below. This material called honeydew is what the sooty mold fungus uses as its food.

3. Boring Insects - No these are not insects that lack in social graces. Rather, these are critters that spend their immature stage (larvae) chewing on the inside of the plant. Borers do their damage by interrupting the water carrying vessels in the stems. Ones such as the Emerald Ash Borer, that bore near the surface, just beneath the bark in the cambium layer can actually kill the tree. Fortunately, most borers tend to attack old, stressed trees and rarely go after young, healthy ones.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

Types of Insects

"Name That Bug Page"


Copyright 2000-