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Beets pests and diseases

Published: 09.04.2023
Pest/Disease Type Symptoms on Beets Control/Prevention
Aphids Pest Leaves may curl or become distorted. Presence of sticky residue on leaves. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil. Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings.
Cercospora leaf spot Disease Small, grayish lesions with purplish margins on leaves. Remove and destroy infected leaves. Rotate crops. Use fungicides if necessary.
Cutworms Pest Seedlings may be cut at the base. Use collars around seedlings. Handpick and destroy cutworms.
Root maggots Pest Wilted leaves and stunted growth. Presence of small, white maggots in the root system. Use row covers to prevent adult flies from laying eggs. Rotate crops. Use nematodes or insecticidal soap.
Downy mildew Disease Leaves may turn yellow and become covered in a white, downy growth. Remove and destroy infected leaves. Improve air circulation. Use fungicides if necessary.
Flea beetles Pest Small, round holes in leaves. Use row covers. Handpick and destroy beetles. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Powdery mildew Disease White or gray powder on leaves. Leaves may become distorted. Improve air circulation. Remove and destroy infected leaves. Use fungicides if necessary.
Rhizoctonia crown rot Disease Wilting or yellowing of leaves. Dark lesions on roots and crowns. Remove and destroy infected plants. Avoid overwatering. Improve soil drainage.
Wireworms Pest Stunted growth and yellowing leaves. Presence of small, brown worms in the soil. Rotate crops. Use beneficial nematodes or insecticides.
Whiteflies Pest Presence of small, white flies on leaves. Leaves may become yellowed or wilted. Use yellow sticky traps. Encourage beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings. Use insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Aphids are small, pear-shaped insects that can cause damage to beets and other plants in your garden. They can vary in color from green to yellow to black and can be found on the leaves, stems, and sometimes the roots of the plant. Aphids feed on the sap of the plant and can cause stunted growth, distorted leaves, and weakened plants that are more susceptible to disease.


Aphids can be easily identified by their small size and the sticky honeydew they leave behind on the leaves of your plants. They often congregate on new growth, causing curling or yellowing of the leaves.

Control or Prevention

The best way to control aphids is through prevention. Regularly inspect your plants for any signs of aphids and remove any infested leaves or stems immediately. You can also introduce natural predators like ladybugs or lacewings to your garden to help control aphid populations.

If aphids have already infested your beets, you can try spraying them with a mixture of water and dish soap or using neem oil to suffocate them. In severe cases, you may need to use an insecticidal soap or chemical pesticide, but be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully.

Regularly monitoring your garden for pests like aphids can help prevent damage to your plants and ensure a healthy harvest.

Cercospora Leaf Spot

Cercospora leaf spot is a common fungal disease that affects beets, causing significant damage to the leaves and reducing the crop yield. The fungus survives in infected crop debris, and spores are spread by wind and rain, making it difficult to control.


The first symptoms of cercospora leaf spot are small, circular, grayish-white spots on the leaves. As the disease progresses, these spots enlarge and turn brown or purple with a yellow halo. The leaves may also develop a "shot hole" appearance as the spots merge, and the tissue in the center dies.

Control and Prevention

Prevention is key when it comes to cercospora leaf spot. Crop rotation and good sanitation practices are essential. Avoid planting beets in the same location for at least three years and remove any infected plant debris from the garden. Additionally, avoid overhead watering, which can spread spores.

If the disease is already present, fungicides can be used to control it. Copper-based fungicides are effective against cercospora leaf spot but should be applied before symptoms appear. A regular spraying schedule every 7-10 days is recommended.

In conclusion, cercospora leaf spot is a common disease of beets that can be controlled through preventative measures such as crop rotation and good sanitation practices. If the disease is already present, fungicides can be used to control it effectively.


Cutworms are a common pest that affects many vegetable crops, including beets. They are the larvae of several moth species and are commonly found in the soil. Cutworms can cause significant damage to young plants, often cutting them off at the stem or chewing through the leaves.

Symptoms of cutworm damage include wilted or dead plants, missing or damaged leaves, and cut stems near the soil line. Cutworms are most active at night, making them difficult to spot during the day.

To control cutworms, it's essential to keep the garden clean and free from debris that can provide shelter for the pests. Handpicking cutworms can also be effective, especially in small gardens. In larger gardens, using a natural insecticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) can help to control the pest without harming beneficial insects.

Prevention is key when dealing with cutworms. One effective method is to create a barrier around the base of plants using cardboard or plastic collars. This will prevent cutworms from accessing the stem of young plants. Additionally, planting later in the season when cutworm populations have declined can also help to prevent damage.

By being vigilant and implementing preventative measures, gardeners can successfully control and prevent cutworm infestations in their beet crops.

Root Maggots

Root maggots are one of the most common pests that affect beets and other root vegetables in home gardens. These pests are small, white, legless larvae that feed on the roots of plants, causing stunted growth and wilting.

Symptoms: Infected plants show signs of yellowing and wilting. Upon closer inspection, you may notice small holes and tunnels in the roots. Root maggots are most active during the early growing season and can cause significant damage to young plants.

Control and Prevention: The best way to prevent root maggots is to practice good garden hygiene. Remove any plant debris and weeds from the garden area and rotate crops each year. You can also use row covers or insecticides to protect plants from infestation. If you notice signs of root maggots, apply beneficial nematodes to the soil or use insecticides containing spinosad or pyrethrin.

Overall, preventing root maggots is the best course of action. With proper care and attention, your beets and other root vegetables can thrive in your home garden.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew is a fungal disease that affects a wide range of plants, including beets. It thrives in wet and humid conditions and can quickly spread through your garden if left untreated.


The first sign of downy mildew is yellowing leaves that eventually turn brown and die. A white or grayish fuzz may also appear on the underside of the leaves. As the disease progresses, the leaves become deformed and stunted, and the beets may become discolored or stop growing altogether.

Control or Prevention

Prevention is key when it comes to downy mildew. Make sure to space out your plants to promote air circulation and avoid overhead watering. Water your beets at the soil level instead. Remove any infected plants immediately to prevent the disease from spreading.

If downy mildew has already taken hold in your garden, apply a fungicide containing copper or mancozeb to affected plants. Repeat every 7-14 days until the disease is under control.

By taking preventative measures and catching downy mildew early, you can keep your beets healthy and thriving throughout the growing season.

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are tiny, jumping beetles that can cause severe damage to beets and other plants in the beet family. These pests are most active in early spring and late summer and can quickly defoliate young plants, stunting their growth and reducing their yield.


Flea beetles leave small holes in the leaves of young plants, causing them to appear "shot-holed." As the infestation worsens, the leaves may turn yellow and wilt. In severe cases, the plant may die.

Control or Prevention

To prevent flea beetle damage, it is essential to keep the garden free of weeds and debris, which can provide shelter for the pests. Row covers or other physical barriers can be used to protect young plants from infestation. Insecticidal soaps or neem oil can also be effective in controlling flea beetles.

Additionally, choosing beet varieties that are resistant to flea beetles can be a useful preventative measure. Crop rotation can also help prevent infestations by interrupting the beetle's life cycle.

In summary, flea beetles can cause significant damage to beets and other plants in the beet family. However, by keeping the garden clean, using physical barriers or insecticidal soaps, and choosing resistant varieties, gardeners can effectively prevent and control flea beetle infestations.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that commonly affects beets and other plants. It is caused by different species of fungi that thrive in warm and humid conditions. Powdery mildew can be identified by a white, powdery coating that appears on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the affected plant.

Symptoms of powdery mildew include yellowing and browning of leaves, stunted growth, and distorted or misshapen fruits. The fungal infection can weaken the plant, making it more susceptible to other diseases and pests.

Preventing powdery mildew requires good garden hygiene and proper plant care. Avoid overhead watering and ensure adequate air circulation around plants by pruning or thinning out crowded growth. Remove infected leaves immediately to prevent the disease from spreading.

To control powdery mildew, apply fungicides such as sulfur or neem oil to infected plants. These products should be used as a preventative measure before symptoms appear or as soon as they are noticed. Regular applications may be necessary to keep the disease under control.

Overall, powdery mildew can be managed with proper care and attention to detail in your garden. By maintaining a clean and healthy growing environment for your beets, you can prevent and control this common fungal disease.

Rhizoctonia Crown Rot

Rhizoctonia crown rot is a fungal disease that affects the roots and crown of beets. It is caused by the Rhizoctonia solani fungus, which thrives in moist and warm soil conditions. The fungus attacks the roots of the plant, causing them to rot and eventually killing the plant.

The symptoms of Rhizoctonia crown rot include wilting of the plant, yellowing or browning of leaves, and decay of the roots and crown. The roots will appear brown and mushy, and the crown will have a black, sunken appearance.

To prevent Rhizoctonia crown rot, it is important to plant beets in well-draining soil and to avoid overwatering. Crop rotation can also be effective in preventing the disease from spreading. If you suspect your beets have been infected, remove and destroy the affected plants to prevent further spread of the fungus.

Fungicides can also be used to control Rhizoctonia crown rot, but prevention is key in avoiding this disease. Regular inspection of your plants and proper soil management can go a long way in maintaining a healthy beet crop.


Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles and are a common pest in home gardens. They are slender, brownish-yellow worms that can grow up to an inch long. Wireworms feed on the roots of plants and can cause severe damage to crops such as beets, carrots, and potatoes.

Symptoms of wireworm infestation include stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and wilting plants. If left unchecked, wireworms can cause significant damage to the roots of young plants, making it difficult for them to take up water and nutrients from the soil.

To control or prevent wireworm infestations, it is essential to practice good garden hygiene. Crop rotation can help reduce wireworm populations as they prefer certain types of soil. Removing plant debris and cultivating the soil in the fall can also help expose and kill wireworms.

Another effective method is using beneficial nematodes, which are microscopic worms that attack wireworms. You can also use insecticides specifically designed for wireworm control, but make sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid harming beneficial insects.

Overall, preventing wireworm infestations is key to keeping your garden healthy and productive.


Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can cause serious damage to your beet plants. These pests are often found on the undersides of leaves, and can quickly infest your entire garden if left untreated.

Symptoms: The most obvious symptom of a whitefly infestation is the presence of the insects themselves. You may also notice yellowing or wilting of leaves, as well as a sticky substance known as honeydew on the leaves and stems of your plants. In severe cases, the leaves may start to curl and drop off.

Control/Prevention: The best way to prevent whiteflies is to keep your garden clean and free of debris. Remove any dead or dying plant material, and regularly inspect your plants for signs of pests. If you do spot whiteflies, you can try spraying your plants with a strong jet of water to dislodge them. Alternatively, you can use insecticidal soap or neem oil to kill the pests. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully, and avoid using harsh chemicals that could harm beneficial insects or pollinators.

By taking steps to prevent and control whiteflies, you can help ensure that your beet plants stay healthy and productive all season long.

Author: Michael Chen
Bio: I'm gardening specialist with a mission to empower people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. With my background in Plant Science from the University of California and experience working with farmers and community gardens, I'm dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and helping individuals achieve bountiful harvests. Let's get growing!