Skip to content
Fall's Most Common Garden Pests: Identifying and Defending Against Autumn Invaders

Fall's Most Common Garden Pests: Identifying and Defending Against Autumn Invaders

As the leaves change color and the air turns cooler, many of us enjoy the beauty of autumn. It's a time for pumpkin patches, cozy sweaters, and warm apple cider. But did you know that fall also brings unwelcome guests to your garden? These are the little critters we call garden pests.

Garden pests are tiny creatures that can harm your plants and flowers. They like munching leaves, burrowing into the soil, or even laying eggs in your garden. During the fall, when gardens are still teeming with life, these pests become more active, looking for a cozy place to stay during winter.

In this blog, we're going to be your garden pest detectives. We'll help you identify the most common troublemakers in your garden during fall. But don't worry, we won't leave you defenseless! We'll also share some tips and tricks to protect your beautiful garden and keep it thriving even as the days grow shorter.

What are common garden pests during the fall? And how can you identify them?

In the fall, several common garden pests can become an issue. Let's explore them one by one and learn how to identify them:

1. Aphids:

- Identification: Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that can be green, yellow, brown, or black. They cluster on the undersides of leaves and stems.

- Signs: Look for curled or distorted leaves, sticky residue (called honeydew), or black sooty mold on leaves.

2. Whiteflies:

- Identification: Whiteflies are small, white, moth-like insects. They fly around when disturbed and often gather on the undersides of leaves.

- Signs: Yellowing leaves and sticky honeydew on plants indicate whitefly presence.

3. Cabbage Worms:

- Identification: Cabbage worms are green caterpillars with a faint stripe along their back. They're often found on cabbage, broccoli, and other leafy greens.

- Signs: Holes and chewed leaves are telltale signs of cabbage worm infestation.

4. Spider Mites:

- Identification: Spider mites are tiny, red, or brown pests barely visible to the naked eye. They often form delicate webs on plants.

- Signs: Look for stippled or yellowing leaves and tiny webs on the plants.

5. Fall Armyworms:

- Identification: Fall armyworms are greenish-gray caterpillars with stripes on their sides. They can be found on various plants.

- Signs: They chew large sections of leaves, and you may notice ragged, irregular holes in foliage.

6. Slugs and Snails:

- Identification: Slugs and snails are soft-bodied, slimy creatures that come out at night. They leave behind a silvery slime trail.

- Signs: Irregular holes in leaves and slime trails on the ground are signs of their presence.

7. Japanese Beetles:

- Identification: Japanese beetles are metallic green with copper-brown wings. They are about half an inch long.

- Signs: These beetles eat the tissue between leaf veins, creating a skeletonized appearance on leaves.

8. Earwigs:

- Identification: Earwigs have elongated bodies with pincers at the back. They are brown or black and are about half an inch long.

- Signs: Earwigs often hide in dark, damp places during the day and come out at night to feed on plants. Look for chewed leaves.

9. Fruit Flies:

- Identification: Fruit flies are tiny, usually brown or black, attracted to ripe or decaying fruits.

- Signs: You'll see them hovering around fruits or vegetables that have started to rot.

10. Leafhoppers:

- Identification: Leafhoppers are small, wedge-shaped insects with various colors and patterns but often have bright green or yellow markings. They are about 1/4 inch long.

- Signs: Leafhoppers feed on plant sap by piercing leaves and stems. Look for stippling or small, yellow spots on the leaves, which can indicate their presence. Some leafhoppers also hop or fly away when disturbed.


Identifying these common fall garden pests is the first step in effectively managing and controlling them. Regularly inspect your plants, especially the undersides of leaves, for signs of infestation. By catching these pests early, you can take action to protect your garden and enjoy a beautiful, pest-free autumn landscape.

How can you keep these pests away from your garden? Preventive measures.

Preventive measures are steps to stop pests from getting into your garden in the first place. Here are some simple ways to keep these pests away:

  • Clean Your Garden: Start the gardening season with a thorough clean-up. Remove dead leaves, branches, and spent plant material from the previous year. Weeds can also harbor pests, so make sure to eliminate them.
  • Healthy Soil: Healthy soil is the foundation of a pest-resistant garden. Add organic compost to your soil. It enriches it with nutrients and beneficial microorganisms, making plants stronger and less susceptible to pests.
  • Companion Planting: Some plants can help protect others from pests. For example, marigolds have a strong scent that can deter aphids, and basil can confuse tomato hornworms. Research companion planting for your specific crops.
  • Crop Rotation: Changing the location of your plants each year can disrupt the life cycle of pests. Pests that stayed in one spot last year may not find your plants this year.
  • Use Row Covers: Row covers are lightweight fabrics placed over plants. They keep pests like aphids and caterpillars away. Make sure to secure the edges so pests can't sneak in.
  • Attract Beneficial Insects: Plant flowers like zinnias, sunflowers, or daisies to attract beneficial insects. Ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps are natural predators of garden pests and can help keep their populations in check.
  • Inspect Regularly: Make it a habit to inspect your garden regularly, especially the undersides of leaves where many pests hide. Look for signs like chewed leaves, eggs, or tiny insects.
  • Handpick Pests: When you spot pests, like caterpillars or snails, pick them off your plants by hand and drop them into a container of soapy water. This effectively removes them without using chemicals.
  • Use Natural Sprays: Create homemade sprays to deter pests. Mix water with ingredients like crushed garlic, neem oil, or a few drops of dish soap. Spray this on your plants as needed, but rinse it off before consuming your crops.
  • Maintain Good Hygiene: Clean your gardening tools after each use to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Dirty tools can transfer problems from one plant to another.
  • Trap Pests: Use traps like beer traps for slugs or sticky traps for flying insects. These traps can capture pests and reduce their numbers.
  • Birdhouses and Bat Boxes: Birds and bats are natural insect predators. Attract them to your garden by providing birdhouses or bat boxes. They can help keep pest populations in check.
  • Mulch: Mulch with organic materials like straw, wood chips, or shredded leaves. Mulch is a barrier, keeping soil-borne pests away from your plants' roots.
  • Water Carefully: Water your garden at the base of the plants, not on the leaves. Wet leaves can attract pests and diseases. Consider using a drip irrigation system for precise watering.

By following these preventive measures, you can create a garden that's beautiful and naturally resistant to pests. It's a more sustainable and eco-friendly way to protect your plants and enjoy a thriving garden.

How can you deal with these pests? Natural pesticides.

When prevention alone isn't enough, and you need to address these common fall pests with natural solutions, here are some practical methods for each:

1. Aphids:

Neem Oil Spray

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of neem oil with 1 quart of water and add a few drops of dish soap.
  • Spray it on affected plants, covering both sides of the leaves.
  • Repeat every 7-10 days as needed.

Garlic and Pepper Spray

  • Blend a few cloves of garlic and a hot pepper with water.
  • Let it sit for a day, then strain it.
  • Mix the liquid with water (1:5 ratio) and spray on plants. Reapply every week.

2. Whiteflies:

Insecticidal Soap

  • Mix 1-2 teaspoons of liquid soap (not detergent) with 1 quart of water.
  • Spray it on plants to coat the whiteflies.
  • Apply every 4-7 days until the infestation is under control.

Neem Oil

  • Combine 1-2 tablespoons of neem oil with a quart of water and a drop of dish soap.
  • Spray this mixture on your plants every 7-14 days.

3. Cabbage Worms:

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

  • Follow the package instructions to mix and apply Bt spray on cabbage worms.
  • Apply it in the late afternoon or early evening.
  • Reapply after rain or when you notice cabbage worms returning.

Garlic Spray

  • Blend garlic cloves with water and strain the mixture.
  • Dilute the garlic juice with water (1:10 ratio) and spray on your plants.

4. Spider Mites:

Neem Oil Spray

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of neem oil with a gallon of water and a drop of dish soap.
  • Spray it on the affected plants, focusing on the undersides of leaves.
  • Apply every 7-14 days.

Peppermint Oil Spray

  • Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with water.
  • Spray it on the affected plants. This can repel spider mites.

For more information on how to deal with spider mites, be sure to check the following blog: Defeating spider mites naturally.

5. Fall Armyworms:

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

  • Mix Bt with water as directed on the package and spray it on your plants.
  • Apply in the late afternoon or early evening.

Diatomaceous Earth

  • Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth on and around your plants.
  • Reapply after rain or when it gets washed away.

6. Slugs and Snails:

Iron Phosphate-Based Baits

  • Scatter iron phosphate-based slug and snail bait around your plants.
  • Reapply after heavy rain or every 1-2 weeks.

Beer Trap

  • Sink containers with beer into the ground near your plants.
  • Slugs and snails will be attracted to the beer and fall in.

7. Japanese Beetles:

Neem Oil Spray

  • Mix 1-2 tablespoons of neem oil with a quart of water and a drop of dish soap.
  • Spray it on your plants, covering all infested areas.
  • Apply every 7-14 days or after rain.

Milky Spore Disease

  • Apply milky spore disease granules to your soil as directed on the package.
  • This beneficial bacterium targets Japanese beetle grubs in the soil, reducing future infestations.

8. Earwigs:

Rolled Newspaper Traps

  • Roll damp newspapers into tubes and place them near your plants in the evening.
  • In the morning, dispose of the earwigs hidden in the newspaper.

Diatomaceous Earth

  • Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around your plants and create a barrier.
  • Reapply after rain or if it gets washed away.

9. Fruit Flies:

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

  • Fill a container with apple cider vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap.
  • Cover the container with plastic wrap and poke small holes in it.
  • Fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar and will get trapped.

Red Wine Trap

  • Place a container with a small amount of red wine near your fruits.
  • Fruit flies are attracted to the wine and will drown in it.

10. Leafhoppers:

Reflective Mulch

  • Use reflective mulch around your plants to confuse and deter leafhoppers.

Beneficial Insects

  • Encourage natural predators like spiders and ladybugs in your garden by providing habitat and food sources.
  • These insects help control leafhopper populations.

Certainly, here's a shorter version focusing on the essential information:

Bonus: PureLeaf Natural Plant Protection

PureLeaf Natural Plant Protection

This product is an all-in-one solution for protecting plants from garden pests like spiders, insects, and bugs. Using a blend of natural ingredients and homeopathic remedies provides many benefits:

  • Targets a wide range of garden pests.
  • Creates a protective barrier around your plants.
  • Supports pest control and healthy plant growth.

How to Use:

  • For soil application, bury 2-3 pellets one inch below the soil or the seeds.
  • To create a spray, crush 5 pellets in a quart of water, shake, and spray on leaves and plant base.

Natural Plant Protection promotes natural pest control and protects against damage from pests, such as spiders, insects, and bugs. It's useful as a protective barrier and supports healthy plant growth. Easy to use for indoor and outdoor plants.


Remember to apply these natural pesticides when the pests feed actively, often in the early morning or late afternoon. Reapply as needed, especially after rain or when you notice the pests returning. Always follow safety guidelines and store any leftover mixtures properly.

The bottom line

In our journey through this blog, you've learned how to protect your garden from common pests. These pests can challenge your garden's beauty, but armed with knowledge and natural defenses, you can keep it thriving.

What You've Learned:

The first step is identifying pests like aphids, whiteflies, and cabbage worms. Knowing their habits is the first step in effective pest management.

Natural Defense Strategies:

You now have an arsenal of natural defenses:

  • Invite helpful insects.
  • Use companion plants and traps.
  • Handpick pests.
  • Make homemade sprays.
  • Maintain good garden hygiene.

The Power of Prevention:

Prevention matters! Healthy soil, crop rotation, and regular garden checks create an unwelcome environment for pests.

A Harmonious Garden Awaits:

With these techniques, your garden will flourish with life and beauty, free from unwanted guests. Enjoy the season's colors and flavors!

Keep Learning:

Gardening is a lifelong journey. Stay curious, observe, and adapt. If you want to keep learning, check our website. We have many helpful blogs and are continuously updating content.


You might also like the following:


Previous article Your Ultimate Fall Planting Guide
Next article 20 Essential Fall Gardening Tips for a Vibrant Autumn Garden

Leave a comment

* Required fields