Bad Bugs

An army of pests can threaten your crop and lay waste to all of your hard work. Protect your hydroponic garden against these common insects and reap a better harvest season after season.

Common Bad Bugs and How to Treat Them

Several good bugs can be used to fight off the pests listed below. Insecticidal products and traditional methods of elimination help to keep your plants healthy at all stages of growth.


These tiny bugs are light in color and tend to leaves a sticky residue on foliage.
Treatment – cut or pick off damaged foliage and rinse the leaves with warm water for seven days. Finish with an insecticidal soap (homemade or store-bought). Use aphid predators or ladybugs to naturally reduce an aphid population.


Nearly all known caterpillars feed on leaves and can destroy your crop in a matter of days.
Treatment – picking these worm-like critters off by hand is the best method.


Small and dark, these pests look like beetles and tend to scatter in bright light.
Treatment – remove by hand, if possible. Use roach traps to deter infestation and clear organic material from the plant base to eliminate the attraction.


These tiny worm-like pests curl into a ring when bothered. They munch directly through roots and often result in toppled or floppy plants.
Treatment – cutworms are not common in soil-less gardens, but can be removed with a gentle insecticide.

European Corn Borers

Mini-caterpillars measuring about 1-inch long, these pests bore into and consume the plant stem.
Treatment – Use insecticide to combat these pests when spotted.

Fungus Gnats

These maggots come from small black flies and eat at the roots of your plants.
Treatment – remove damaged plants and use insecticidal spray. Fungus gnats are not often found in hydroponic gardens.

Leaf Hoppers

Tiny (measuring just 1/8-inch in length) and shaped like a wedge, these pests suck away the sap of your plants.
Treatment – best removed by hand, if possible, and can often be beaten with insecticide.


Look for powdered, white clumps at the joint of stem and leaf and created by these tiny bugs.
Treatment – scrape bugs and clumps away before using an insecticidal spray.

Root Maggots

These larvae hatch around plant bases and consume the roots.
Treatment – maggots are not often found in hydroponic gardens, but can be treated with insecticidal spray.


Found on the bottom of leaves and around stems, these small waxy growths can destroy your crop.
Treatment – scrape away and isolate the plants, wherever possible. Washing with warm, soapy water helps and insecticide can be used. Green lacewings and mealybug predators also attack scale, along with a host of other pests.

Striped Cucumber Beetle

These bugs are incredibly destructive, even though they measure only ¼-inch in length. The larvae consume plant roots, while the adult beetle chews away at foliage.
Treatment – Insecticidal soap works best against these nasty bugs.

Tarnished Plant Bug

These pests present a distinctive marking on their back, resembling tarnishing. They bite into plants and inject a substance that results in deformed joints and foliage tips.
Treatment – Clean any organic waste near your plants and spray the entire garden with insecticidal soap.

White Flies

A common pest in residential and commercial gardens, white flies are tiny, resistent and annoying.
Treatment – spray the surrounding plants with insecticidal soap and use whitefly predators, whitefly parasites or pirate bugs to deter the population.

Colorado Potato Beetle

These striped beetles measure about 1-inch in length. The larvae can consume your entire plant, from roots to foliage.
Treatment – handpick these beetles from your plants and spray with soap to detract another infestation.


Common in homes and gardens, earwigs are small and brown with tiny pincers on their tail.
Treatment – watch for these pests to awaken at night and pick off by hand. Use praying mantis to reduce the population naturally.

Imported Cabbage Worm

Small caterpillars with a green velvet texture, these pests feast on foliage.
Treatment – Use insecticidal soap and handpick where possible.

Mexican Bean Beetle

These tiny beetles measure only ½-inch but will consume the roots and foliage of your plants.
Treatment – Use insecticidal soap to thoroughly wash down the plants.

Spider Mites

These miniscule pests form cobwebs in your plants and come in green, yellow or red.
Treatment – Isolate the infected plants first, and then wash foliage with warm, soapy water and finish with an insecticidal spray.


Tiny and skinny, these bugs result in dark blobs on the foliage.
Treatment – handpick the bugs you can find and wash foliage thoroughly before applying insecticide. Use thrip predators to deter further infestation.

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