What are Those Tiny Bugs on my Strawberry Plants?

Strawberries are delicious, and everyone knows it. Defending your strawberry crop can be an ongoing battle that lasts right up until picking day, as the bright, sweet fruits are irresistible to birds, slugs, snails, and all sorts of other garden pests.

Strawberry bugs are also a common problem, and your plants may be infested y all kinds of creepy crawlies. The only way to battle an infestation is to know what you’re up against.

So, what are those tiny bugs on your strawberries, and how can you get rid of them.

What are the most common strawberry plant bugs?

Spittlebugs

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Spittlebugs are actually the nymph stage of another type of insect commonly known as the froghopper. They produce their white, foamy shrouds to keep them damp and protected from predators while they feed on the sap of the strawberry plant.

Keep in mind!

A few spittlebugs won’t do any significant damage to strawberries, but large infestations may stunt and weaken the plant, resulting in small berries.

How to spot them

Spittlebugs produced a distinctive white foam bubble around themselves. So spittlebugs are easy to spot thanks to the white, bubbly secretions they cover themselves in.

You can also identify them based on their location on the plant. Spittlebugs are usually found at the base of strawberry plants, though the adult froghoppers are more likely to hang out in the foliage.

How to get rid of them

  • Too many spittlebugs can ruin your strawberry crop. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to keep their numbers under control:
  • Spittlebugs are easy to spot and catch. When you see one on your plants, pick it off and squish it.
  • Clean up. Debris around your strawberry patch can provide the perfect overwintering site for spittlebugs eggs, which will hatch and invade your plants in the spring.
  • Cover your strawberries. A cover can help to physically prevent spittlebugs (and other insects) from laying eggs on your strawberry plants.
  • Use a homemade spray (made with garlic and hot pepper) to spray your plants and make them unappealing to spittlebugs.

Tarnished Plant Bugs

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These are common, sap-sucking insects with the potential to do serious damage to your strawberries. They feed by puncturing and drinking from young, incompletely-formed fruits, resulting in misshapen berries.

Important!

Tarnished Plant Bugs cause the most damage in the nymphal stage when they emerge from their eggs to feed on the blossoms and developing fruit of strawberry plants.

How to spot them

You can spot tarnished plant bugs by paying attention to the appearance and location of the bugs on your strawberry plants. Tarnished Plant Bugs are usually found on the blossoms and young fruits of strawberry plants.

As for their appearance, tarnished plant bugs are brown in color with a mottled yellow, brown, or reddish pattern. Their forewings have black tips with distinctive, yellow-triangle markings. And they are very small in size, only about ¼ inch long.

How to get rid of them

Preventative steps are important when controlling Tarnished Plant Bugs in your garden:

  • Control your weeds. Weeds provide the perfect egg-laying environment for Tarnished Spittle Bugs, so be careful to keep your strawberry patch as weed-free as possible.
  • Use white sticky traps. Setting up white sticky traps can help to catch Tarnished Plant Bugs (and other nuisance pests) before they get a chance to land on your plants.
  • Use insecticidal soap. An insecticidal soap spray is a quick way to get rid of any bugs on your strawberry plants.
  • Cover your strawberries. A floating cover can help to stop Tarnished Plant Bugs (and other insects) laying eggs on your strawberries.

Strawberry Bud Weevils

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Strawberry Bud Weevils (AKA Strawberry Clippers) are common pests of strawberry plants. The adult weevils feed by “clipping” away strawberry buds, destroying their chances of ever developing into berries. Once they’ve punctured the bud and eaten their fill of pollen, the adult insect will lay a single egg inside. Next, they will “clip” the bud so it either falls off the plant or is left dangling on a thin thread.

Strawberry Bud Weevils are usually a problem in early spring when the adults emerge to begin their reproductive cycles.

How to spot them

Look for Strawberry Bud Weevils by keeping an eye out for the following clue: plants with detached or “clipped” flower buds are usually inhabited by Strawberry Plant Weevils.

You can also spot them by their appearance. These tiny, dark bugs are reddish-brown in color and around 1/10 of an inch in size. They also have a long, curved snout about half the length of their bodies.

How to get rid of them

If you have a problem with Strawberry Bud Plants, take the following steps to protect your berries:

  • Check your plants regularly. Inspect your plants regularly for signs of Strawberry Bud weevil damage, specifically, keep a lookout for “clipped” buds.
  • Remove infested buds. If you find infested and fallen buds around your strawberry plants, remove them immediately. The damage may be done, but you can prevent those bugs from overwintering nearby and attacking your plants again next spring.
  • Use insecticidal soap. If you have a Strawberry Bud Weevil infestation, insecticidal soap spray may help you to deal with the problem. However, you will need to repeatedly apply the spray to stay on top of the weevils.

Conclusion

Strawberry plant pests can ruin your berry crop, but only if you let them! Preventative measures (like covering your plants, inspecting them regularly, and keeping the area clear of weeds) can help you to avoid infestations.

If you are already seeing signs of insect damage on your strawberries, an insecticidal soap spray may help to get pest numbers under control. Common strawberry plant pests to watch out for include Spittlebugs, Tarnished Plant Bugs, and Strawberry Bud Weevils.

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