Knowing how different types of pests attack your vegetables can help you diagnose plant problems early. The two most common categories of pests are those that suck juices out of plants and those that chew on leaves and stems. 

Pests that suck juices have piercing mouthparts that look like bird beaks which are used to break into the skin of the plant and suck out the plants’ juices. While sucking, some of these pests transmit diseases from other plants to the ones they’re feeding on. Aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and leaf hoppers are common pests in this category. Plants being attacked by these pests usually have curled, distorted leaves which are sometimes yellow or pale white with grey and brown spots. Infected plants often die from the injuries caused by the pests.

Pests in this category are generally very small and live in large communities of adults, larvae, and eggs. 

Aphids (the small, translucent group of dots on the centre of the leaf) feed on the juices of plants.
Aphids (the small, translucent group of dots on the centre of the leaf) feed on the juices of plants.

Pests that chew leaves, stems, roots, and fruits are mostly caterpillars, worms, and beetles. These pests feed on plant parts and create noticeable holes. They start their lives on the vegetables as eggs. When they hatch, these hungry offspring of butterflies, beetles, and moths eat through the plant parts before metamorphosising into the adult winged insects. 

Although plants affected by these pests rarely become sick, they don’t look good enough to be sold in markets. 

Leaf miners burrow through leaves, eating them from the inside.
Leaf miners burrow through leaves, eating them from the inside.

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