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Pests and Beneficials in a Vegetable Garden


Organic gardens attract PESTS and BENEFICIALS. Pests get their name because they eat leaves and roots needed for growing vegetables. BENEFICIALS get theirs because they eat those PESTS and pollinate flowers, which produce fruit.


Both PESTS and BENEFICIALS are equally important and you should keep in mind that these cards refer to insects in a vegetable garden. For example in a compost pile, PESTS can become BENEFICIALS, as they break down leaves and rotting fruit to create healthy soil. And, all insects are part of the food chain and play a role. Without them, we would go hungry.

​TessaGrows Insect Identification Cards are a great way to learn about insects in your vegetable garden. Look for the letters P or B on the back of each card to see if the insect is a PEST (P) or BENEFICIAL (B).

 Did You Know?

  • A garden without pests will not attract beneficials.

  • When an insect eats a decaying leaf, it transforms the energy from the sun, which is still in the leaf into its body and that’s how they get around.

  • A vegetable is any part of a plant that you eat.

  • The part of a plant that grows out of a flower is a fruit.

  • Beneficials can become pests if your garden is out of balance.

  • A garden in balance will produce enough food for humans and insects and hopefully the odd critter or two.

  • Hand picking is the best way to remove pests.

Be Aware

  • Always wash your hands after touching insects.

  • Never pick up an insect unless you are certain it cannot harm you.

Insects that Sting/Bite/Slime

(Mostly harmless, if pain persists see a doctor.)


  • Aphids can cause a rash.

  • Centipedes can sting (mild+).

  • Earwigs can pinch (no venom).

  • Garden ants can bite and sting (very mild).

  • Grubs don’t bite but has slimy skin (irritant).

  • Honey bees can sting (mild to severe).

  • Lacewings can bite (mild). Larva is worse (still mild).

  • Ladybirds can sting (very mild).

  • Female mason bees can sting (mild+).

  • Praying mantises are not likely to bite but may jab at you with their front spikes (paper cut).

  • Slugs and snails don’t bite (carry parasites).

  • Spiders may have toxic venom (mild to severe).

"I like this. I think it will be a marvelous teaching tool for children and adults. This gets people learning about the common critters that are the worst - along with some of the best!" 
David K.

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