Fact Sheets - Soil Insect Pests of Vegetables
Pest Management Fact Sheet #5045
Soil Insect Pests of Vegetables
James F. Dill, Pest Management Specialist
Clay A. Kirby, Insect Diagnostician
Description & Biology
The following are the most significant soil insects attacking home garden plants.
Wireworms are the immature stage (larvae) of the click beetle. The wireworms are cylindrical, about 1-1/2 inches long, brownish to yellow and are rather hard-bodied. They look similar to mealworms. These insects eat seeds, cut into small shoots and often bore into stems, roots and tubers. They attack many vegetables including potatoes, onions, corn, carrots, peas, beans and melons.
White grubs are whitish, C-shaped larvae with brown heads. They include the immature stage of May beetles, June bugs, European chafers, or Japanese beetles. They stay in the soil and feed on the roots of corn, beans, peas and other vegetables. They are most likely to damage plants in or near ground that was recently sod covered.
Cutworms are the larval, or immature, stage of certain moths. They can often eliminate a stand of plants in a garden. Cutworms are night feeders and are seldom seen during the day. These insects cut off small plants at or near the ground level and feed on the tender stem. Some types climb up the stem and feed on foliage. Many plants are attacked by cutworms, but they are especially damaging to corn, beans, tomatoes and peppers.
Seed corn maggots are the larvae of small flies. They develop in the soil and feed on seed and seedlings of corn, beans, peas, potatoes, cabbage, melons and other crops.
Cabbage maggots are also the larvae of small flies. They feed on the surface of roots and tunnel through them. They attack cabbage, broccoli, turnips and other similar crops.
Other maggots which attack vegetable crops are the carrot rust fly and the onion maggot.
Beneficial nematodes can be used for controlling the soil dwelling larval stages of the above pests. Cardboard plant collars and carbaryl (Sevin) sprays and baits can be used to control cutworms.
When Using Pesticides
ALWAYS FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS!
Pest Management Office
491 College Avenue, Orono, ME 04473-1295
1-800-287-0279 (in Maine)
Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.
Published and distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914, by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Land Grant University of the state of Maine and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Cooperative Extension and other agencies of the U.S.D.A. provide equal opportunities in programs and employment.
Call 800-287-0274 or TDD 800-287-8957 (in Maine), or 207-581-3188, for information on publications and program offerings from University of Maine Cooperative Extension, or visit extension.umaine.edu.