Bugs chewing pea plants

Credit: iStockphoto


Q: In recent years I have noticed an increase in chewing damage to newly emerged pea plants. Any suggestions as to what may be causing this and/or possible remedies. I prefer not to use any chemical agents.

Without further pictures or additional information (like type of chewing observed) there are several possibilities. They include:

  • Cutworms – if large portions of the plant have been consumed,
  • Pea leaf weevil (Sitona linentus), which chew notches in the leaf margin,
  • European earwig (Forficula auricularia),
  • Sow bugs and pill bugs,
  • Slugs.

To confirm identification, check at night with a flashlight since most are “night visitors.” Handpicking is the quickest method for getting rid of most of these pests.

Most are general feeders (eat different types of vegetables), except pea leaf weevil which only feeds on peas. This pea leaf weevil could potentially build up in your garden if you continually plant a lot of peas year after year. Rotating crops or not planting peas for a duration could starve out this weevil.

You can capture earwigs by constructing traps out of boards with grooves cut in them and laying them face down. Sow bugs and pill bugs tend to be scavengers mainly, but feed on young seedlings growing slowly under cool, moist weather.