Tag Archive: Insects

Benefit from Beneficial Insects

Adult Ladybug. Photo Credit: James Castner University of Florida

A number of summers ago, I noticed whiteflies on a confederate rose plant in my landscape. I considered using an insecticide to control the whiteflies but decided against doing so after taking a closer look. What I found was a population of ladybugs – eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.

Ladybug adults and larvae eat whiteflies, as well as other soft-bodied insects such as aphids. So, I waited to see what would happen.

At first I was seeing mostly adult whiteflies, which look like tiny white moths. Adult whiteflies mate and then lay eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs hatch into flat translucent scale-like nymphs that suck the “juice” from the underside of the leaves.

Eventually, some of the leaves developed a black coating called sooty mold. As certain insects (primarily aphids, some scales and whiteflies) feed, they excrete plant sap that coats the leaves. Sooty mold then grows on this sugary sap. It’s not a pathogen. It just makes the leaves look ugly.

Knowing that the whiteflies would not kill the confederate rose, I was willing to tolerate the sooty mold and allow the ladybug population to build.

Allowing whiteflies to live on your plants may not always be the best option. But in order to have beneficial insects in your landscape, there must be some “bad” insects for them to eat.

Insects such as ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises eat many pest insects. Encouraging these beneficial insects can allow you to reduce the amount of pesticides applied.

It’s important to learn to recognize the adult and immature stages of these beneficial insects. Ladybugs have larvae that look nothing like

Ladybug larva. Photo credit: Aristizabal University of Florida

the adults. Some ladybug larvae look like small orange and black alligators. Others may resemble mealybugs. Many gardeners that would never kill adult ladybugs mistake their larvae as pests and kill them with insecticides.

The following UF/IFAS Extension website will help you learn to recognize many of our beneficial insects. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_beneficial_insects

Once you find beneficial insects in your landscape, reduce or eliminate the use of insecticides. When an insecticide is needed, use environmentally friendly options such as insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils and products that contain Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

Sometimes a heavy stream of water from a water hose is all that is needed to remove pest insects from plants and reduce their numbers to an acceptable population.

Remember, leaving a few pest insects is a great way to attract beneficial insects. Tolerating a minor infestation and a little plant damage will benefit the helpful insects, your pocketbook and the environment.

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/05/12/benefit-from-beneficial-insects/

Monitoring for Common Lawn Insects

Spittlebug damage on centipedegrass. Photo credit: Larry Williams UF/IFAS

Mole crickets, chinch bugs and spittlebugs are common lawn insect pests to begin watching for this time of year.

Mole crickets can be active in lawns spring through fall, but the best window of opportunity to control them is in June and July.

Soap flushing is a technique to survey for mole crickets. Mix two ounces of liquid dishwashing soap in two gallons of water and apply with a sprinkling can to four square feet of turf in several areas where mole crickets are suspected. If an average of two to four mole crickets appear on the surface within several minutes, then a treatment is probably needed.

Chinch bugs only damage St. Augustinegrass. So if your lawngrass is something other than St. Augustine, don’t worry about this insect.

Damage from chinch bugs tends to begin in April. However, they are more likely to be active during warmer summer months through early fall in the more sunny areas of the yard, particularly if it’s dry.

Inspect a St. Augustinegrass lawn weekly during spring, summer and fall. Look for areas that quickly turn yellow and then straw brown. Part the grass at the margin of the yellowed areas and closely examine the soil surface and base of the turf for tiny insects. Immature chinch bugs are pink to red and are about the size of a pinhead. The adults are only 1/8 inch long and black with white wings.

Spittlebugs attack all turfgrass species but centipedegrass is their favorite. The first generation of adult spittlebugs is abundant in June and the peak population usually occurs in August to early September.

An early sign of spittlebug activity are masses of white, frothy spittle found in the turf. Each piece of spittle contains one immature spittle bug. Infested turf turns yellow and eventually brown. Damage resembles chinch bug injury but usually first appears in shady areas. Closer inspection reveals discolored individual grass blades with cream colored and pinkish-purple streaks running the length of individual blades. As the population builds, the ¼ inch long adults are abundant. As you walk through or mow an infested area, numerous adult spittlebugs fly short distances when disturbed. Adults are black with two orange transverse stripes across their wings.

Correct lawn management can minimize many pest problems. If a pesticide becomes necessary to control a lawn pest, be sure to follow the product’s label instructions and precautions.

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/13/monitoring-for-common-lawn-insects/

Stop and Take Notice of Beneficial Insects

Stop and Take Notice of Beneficial Insects

This spring, most garden plants are putting on lots of tender new growth. The lush foliage is like a free lunch to aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs and thrips. Before broad spectrum insecticides are used to control these pests, consider the impact on beneficial insects. Insecticides that don’t measurably harm predatory beneficial insects include insecticidal soaps and all season horticultural oils, which kill soft-bodied insect pests at application. Here are several common beneficial predatory and parasitic insects that help keep the pests at bay.

 

Assassin Bug Zelus longipes

Assassin bugs are predators of several leaf feeding and sap sucking insects including the fall army worm and the Asian citrus psyllid. They trap their prey by holding onto it with their forelegs and secreting enzymes into the prey to dissolve the interior tissue. Then they ingest the dissolved tissue.

 

Adult female milkweed assassin bug, Zelus longipes Linnaeus, feeding on a cornsilk fly, Euxesta stigmatias Loew. Credit: Megha Kalsi, University of Florida

Adult female milkweed assassin bug, Zelus longings Linnaeus, feeding on a cornsilk fly, Euxesta stigmatias Loew. Credit: Megha Kalsi, University of Florida

 

Lady Bug or Lady Beetle

These insects most commonly feed on aphids, most insect eggs, whiteflies, small caterpillars, scale and mealybugs. They provide a measurable benefit to gardens since they are such generalized feeders. The Lady Beetle larva look substantially different  from the adult stage.

Third instar larvae of Hippodamia convergens. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida

Third instar larvae of Hippodamia convergens. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida

Newly emerged adult Hippodamia convergens showing typical body markings. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida.

Newly emerged adult Hippodamia convergens showing typical body markings. Photograph by Luis F. Aristizábal, University of Florida.

 

Soldier Bug

A different but closely related species of the stink bug, this predator uses its piercing / sucking mouthparts to feed on larval beetles and caterpillars.

Dorsal view of an adult spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), feeding on a mating pair of sumac flea beetles, Blepharida rhois (Forster) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Dorsal view of an adult spined soldier bug, Podisus maculiventris (Say), feeding on a mating pair of sumac flea beetles, Blepharida rhois (Forster) (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

 

Lacewings

The green and brown lacewing is often found around aphid infestations. The larva is the major predator, they make the biggest dent on aphid populations. In addition to aphids, lacewings also feed on scale, mealybugs and several species of insect eggs.

 

Adult brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae). Photograph by University of Florida.

Adult brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae). Photograph by University of Florida.

Larva of a brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae) preparing to attack and feed on an aphid. The black-colored aphid to the right was probably parasitized by a wasp. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

Larva of a brown lacewing (Neuroptera: Hemerobiidae) preparing to attack and feed on an aphid. The black-colored aphid to the right was probably parasitized by a wasp. Photograph by Lyle J. Buss, University of Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predatory Gall Midges

This aphid predator is easily overlooked because it is so small, and resembles the flower fly. They also feed on scale, thrips and mites.

 

Adult of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by David R. Gillespie, Agassiz.

Adult of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by David R. Gillespie, Agassiz.

Larva of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by Lance S. Osborne, University of Florida.

Larva of the predatory gall-midge, Feltiella acarisuga (Vallot). Photograph by Lance S. Osborne, University of Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flower Flies (Hover Flies)

Flower Flies actually resemble honeybees or bumblebees. People often run from them! The adult is an important pollinator for many crop species and feeds on nectar and aphid honeydew. This time it’s the larva which is predatory and is a voracious feeder of aphids. Large concentrations of larvae substantially reduce aphid populations in aphid infested gardens and fields.

 

Larva of Allograpta obliqua (Say), a hover fly. Photograph by James F. Price, University of Florida.

Larva of Allograpta obliqua (Say), a hover fly. Photograph by James F. Price, University of Florida.

An adult male hover fly, Allograpta obliqua (Say). Graphic by Division of Plant Industry.

An adult male hover fly, Allograpta obliqua (Say). Graphic by Division of Plant Industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parasitic Flies

There are many types of parasitic flies which parasitize a variety of insect pest species.  They may inject their eggs into the host, or lay the egg on the surface of their host.  Usually they are very small and not noticeable.

 

Parasitic Wasps

Most parasitic wasp species are tiny, fast and hard to notice. The average gardener is not aware of their rather plentiful existence.  They are a common killer of grubs, caterpillars, whiteflies and aphids. They either insert their eggs into the organism or lay eggs on the surface of their host.

 A group of adult Cotesia congregata (Say) wasps feeding on honey solution placed on the underside of a tomato leaf. Photograph by Justin Bredlau, Virginia Commonwealth University.

A group of adult Cotesia congregata (Say) wasps feeding on honey solution placed on the underside of a tomato leaf. Photograph by Justin Bredlau, Virginia Commonwealth University.

 

Big Eyed Bugs and Minute Pirate Bugs

While big eyed bugs and minute pirate bugs are not related, they perform similar functions in gardens and agricultural systems by feeding on chinch bug nymphs, psocids, leafhoppers, aphids, thrips, and mites. They are found in variety of ecosystems and do their job anonymously.

Adult bigeyed bug, Geocoris sp., feeding on a whitefly nymph. Photograph by Jack Dykinga, USDA

Adult bigeyed bug, Geocoris sp., feeding on a whitefly nymph. Photograph by Jack Dykinga, USDA

The minute pirate bugs are black with white markings. They prey on many small insects and eggs, including thrips. About 70 species exist in North America. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida

The minute pirate bugs are black with white markings. They prey on many small insects and eggs, including thrips. About 70 species exist in North America. Photograph by James Castner, University of Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

Natural Enemies and Biological Control. Publication #ENY-822

Featured Creatures. UF / IFAS Entomology and Nematology

EDIS: Beneficial Insects

 

 

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/07/stop-and-take-notice-of-beneficial-insects/

Insects Take a Break in Winter, Which Will Soon Be Over !

Insects Take a Break in Winter, Which Will Soon Be Over !

A common question about insects when cold temperatures arrive is whether or not the cold will kill many pests. Although temperatures will occasionally drop below freezing in north Florida, it is normally not cold enough to significantly impact insect populations for the upcoming year.

Typical white grub of the genus Phyllophaga. Photograph by John L. Capinera, UF

Typical white grub of the genus Phyllophaga. Photograph by John L. Capinera, UF

 

Even when we do receive a significant amount of cold weather, insects have many methods to survive weather changes. Some insects survive by moving to micro-habitats that are more resistant to temperature fluctuations. Beetle larvae may move deep in the soil or into logs and trees for protection. The grubs can continue feeding on decomposing material throughout winter months. Beneficial insects such as dragonflies and damselflies stay protected in their nymph forms in the mud of ponds and lakes.

One of the most famous insect survival strategies is migration. We are all familiar with the late summer and fall flights of the monarch butterfly to warmer regions of Mexico and southern California. Those butterflies and moths that do not migrate have their own survival techniques. They will overwinter in protective pupal cases to emerge as adults in the spring. Moth cocoons are spun of silk and may be composed of multiple layers, making them a good protection for the transforming insect.

Insects are adapted for survival and can live through far colder winters than we experience. Even though our cold weather will not drastically change insect populations, periods of cold will at least slow down their activity enough for us to enjoy a break from many pest worries.

 

 

 

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/02/insects-take-a-break-in-winter-which-will-soon-be-over/

The Preying Mantis: Friend to Gardeners, but Nightmare to Insects

The Preying Mantis: Friend to Gardeners, but Nightmare to Insects

The preying mantis is well equipped to thin the population of destructive insects.

The preying mantis is well equipped to thin the population of destructive insects.

The last two years have been kind to the insect population in north Florida, and 2015 appears to be continuing the trend. The weather has provided enough rain for those bugs which depend on the generous supply of foliage and the temperatures are returning to an agreeable range for population growth.

Stink bugs, leaf-footed bugs, grasshoppers, all sizes of caterpillars and many more are hatching bent on enjoying the lush and plentiful dining selections. Homeowners and gardeners may soon be plagued by the sudden appearance of hordes of hungry pest which are eyeing the menu choices at a residence’s landscape.

Fortunately, nature has a way of equalizing all situations when left to its own devices. With the increase of the plant eaters comes those insects which restrain their population explosions.

One of the most easily recognized predator insects is the praying mantis. This beneficial insect is actually a family with multiple members, some of which have been introduced to Florida.

While there are over 2400 mantis members worldwide, Florida is home to eleven natives. Two of those have been introduced from other regions, but are not considered invasive.

Mantises are thought to have evolved during the Cretaceous period about 100 million years ago, possibly from a predatory cockroach with similar front legs. Their closest surviving insect relatives are cockroaches and termites, both of which they will consume if given the opportunity.

Like many insects, the mantis is equipped with a tough, durable exoskeleton which provides a basis for successful close quarter combat and meal procurement. These hunters have three other advantages which create a severe vulnerability in their prey’s defense and potential for surviving a mantis encounter.

The mantis is an ambush predator which will lay in wait for the victim/meal to deliver itself. The mantis has the instinctive ability to identify and hide in areas with high amounts of prey traffic.

This insect is a master at stealth and camouflage. The creature’s coloration and linear shape allow it to blend into the many natural settings.
To complement this facility to conceal itself in plain sight, the mantis can hold perfectly still and patiently wait for the oblivious animal to bumble into sticking range. At that precise moment, the mantis is a blur of lethal motion.

The mantis’ forelimbs are a set of deadly spiked vices used to immobilize and secure its target. It extends these spiny levers forward in a raised position which appears as though it is in prayer, hence its name.

The intended kill technique is to impale and restrain the victim with a single stroke of the forelimbs while holding the victim securely to the mantis’ body. On occasion the attempt fails and the mantis has to apply a more direct approach.

This insect’s beak is designed for slicing and tearing its victims flesh. The jaws provide the power to effectively employ this means to its meal’s head.

Depending on its stage of life, the mantis will eat a wide variety of creatures. Early stage mantises will eat little flies and other tiny insect (including its siblings), but at maturity they will take on small reptiles and amphibians along with a variety of destructive insects.

Despite its vicious nature, the praying mantis is the soon-to-emerge answer to many gardeners’ prayers.

PG

Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He works with small and medium sized producers in the Big Bend region of north Florida on a wide range of topics. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/03/20/the-preying-mantis-friend-to-gardeners-but-nightmare-to-insects/

Tools for Trapping Pests and Attracting Beneficial Insects

Russ Mizell, UF/IFAS Professor of Entomology, NFREC Quincy

Florida’s climate provides a long and often year-round growing season. Wherever crops are grown they attract insect and disease pests. As a result, growers are confronted with two major problems: detecting when pests arrive and determining how to manage them. All organisms have their own natural enemies and so do insect pests. They are attacked by many parasites, predators and pathogens. So how can we detect pests early and how do we get their natural enemies to work better for us? These questions are at the core of Integrated Pest Management. When there are attractants and lots of natural enemies, the job is a lot easier, but when these tools don’t exist, alternative methods are needed.

Figure 1

Figure 1: On the left, a trap to attract beneficial insects together with, on the right, a sentinel citrus plant seated in the soil to stabilize the bucket. The white PVC pipe is a watering tube for the citrus.

There are some new multifunctional tactics that have been developed that will work for certain pest and beneficial insects. Let’s say that you have a rose bush or a garden infested with aphids, whiteflies or other soft bodied pests, and want to suppress them by manipulating their natural enemies. The first tool for attracting and concentrating beneficial insects is a yellow object (use a paint like “Safety Yellow #7543” from a big box store) optimally in the shape of a 3” x 36” mailing tube or a 7 gallon plant pot placed on a pole about 3-4’ above the ground or over your infested plant (Figure 1). This trap will attract many lady beetle species from a longer distance away and increase their numbers at the trap by 2-5 times. Other beneficial predacious insects such as green lacewings are also attracted. If you add a sugar solution made of 150 grams of table sugar (3/4 cup sugar) per liter of water (4 cups water) directly to the plant, that will stimulate the arriving predators to remain on the plant or in the area longer.

Figure 2

Figure 2: Separate display of the parts of the sentinel plant platform. Seven gallon bucket to the left, 5 gallon planter bucket to the right showing the black aquaponic or hydroponic container and water wicking material at the bottom.

The second tool is called a “sentinel plant platform.” It has multiple uses for monitoring and manipulating insects and their natural enemies. The apparatus costs about $ 10-$ 15.00. For those insect pests that either do not produce, or the attractant remains unidentified, the host plant may be used to produce the natural conditions – visual and chemical – that attract pests. Figure 2 shows a system designed to hold a plant and maintains it. There are two buckets, the larger outside one is a 7 gallons, and the inner one is a 5 gallons. The inside bucket has a hole in the bottom large enough to enable fitting the 6” wide aquaponic pot down to the collar. The figure shows two strips of towel material threaded into the bottom pot as a wick. The towel material doesn’t last long, so it is better if pieces of rope with a cotton core are used. Ropes should be long enough to reach from the bottom of the 7 gal pot to its top or the top of the soil in the 5 gallons. A ¼” drain hole is placed into the outside 7 gallon bucket just below the point where the small pot fits into the 5 gallon bucket ,so that the plant roots are not continuously in water.

Plants are planted into the sentinel platform by pulling the two ropes up into the soil such that they are in the water and the soil. If you add a small amount of Terra-sorb™ to the soil it will help maintain moisture around the plant ,and prevent evaporation and drying. Fertilize as needed with liquid fertilizer solution. You may also add a piece of 1-2” PVC pipe as a watering tube, but is not necessary. Because the platform is mobile and will last without tending for 7-14 days, depending upon the plants you use, location, rainfall, and time of year, it is a multifunctional tool and can be placed strategically to perform its function.

The platform can also be coupled with other tools (Figure 1) such as using the sugar water, a yellow sticky trap to capture the pests, or using yellow pots, as many plant feeding insects are attracted to yellow. By using plants such as sunflowers, buckwheat, sorghum or millet you can turn the sentinel platform into a stink bug monitoring device or a trap crop (Trap Cropping System to Suppress Stink Bugs in the Southern Coastal Plain). One might also spray some insecticide on the sentinel plant, for an attract-and-kill device, or spores of a fungal pathogen, that will infect the responding target pests and initiate a disease epidemic.  Another longer term option is the fact that pollinators are negatively affected by the loss of habitat and the native plant species they depend on. Such necessary native plants may be added back into the landscape, to augment pollinators at key production times. Homeowners, organic and conventional producers can use these tools. They work!

For more information on this topic please see the following publications:

Trap Cropping System to Suppress Stink Bugs in the Southern Coastal Plain

Intercropping, Crop Diversity and Pest Management

Trap Crops for Management of Stink and Leaffooted Bugs

 

PG

Author: Russ Mizell – rfmizell@ufl.edu


http://nfrec.ifas.ufl.edu

Russ Mizell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/12/20/tools-for-trapping-pests-and-attracting-beneficial-insects/

Insects Take a Break in Winter

A common question about insects when cold temperatures arrive is whether or not the cold will kill many pests. Although temperatures will occasionally drop below freezing in north Florida, it is normally not cold enough to significantly impact insect populations for the upcoming year.

Typical white grub of the genus Phyllophaga. Photograph by John L. Capinera, UF / IFAS

Typical white grub of the genus Phyllophaga. Photograph by John L. Capinera, UF / IFAS

Even when we do receive a significant amount of cold weather, insects have many methods to survive weather changes. Some insects survive by moving to micro-habitats that are more resistant to temperature fluctuations. Beetle larvae may move deep in the soil or into logs and trees for protection. The grubs can continue feeding on decomposing material throughout winter months. Beneficial insects such as dragonflies and damselflies stay protected in their nymph forms in the mud of ponds and lakes.

One of the most famous insect survival strategies is migration. We are all familiar with the late summer and fall flights of the monarch butterfly to warmer regions of Mexico and southern California. Those butterflies and moths that do not migrate have their own survival techniques. They will overwinter in protective pupal cases to emerge as adults in the spring. Moth cocoons are spun of silk and may be composed of multiple layers, making them a good protection for the transforming insect.

Insects are adapted for survival and can live through far colder winters than we experience. Even though our cold weather will not drastically change insect populations, periods of cold will at least slow down their activity enough for us to enjoy a break from many pest worries.

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/10/28/insects-take-a-break-in-winter/

Scouting Soybeans for Insects

Lots of things like to eat soybeans:  beetles, stink bugs, worms, leaf hoppers, grasshoppers and even deer.  During the pod-fill stage, we need to limit defoliation to less than 20%.  Around Labor Day, defoliation can be caused by velvetbean worms, corn earworms, armyworms, stink bugs, loopers and grasshoppers.  Soybean growers should scout their fields often during the weeks surrounding Labor Day.

In the EDIS publication, Soybean Production in Florida, the recommended control for these pests around Labor Day would be a low rate of Dimilin.  Also, research has shown adding boron to this late season application can increase yield 5-10%.  However, growers should know what insects are a problem in their fields before indiscriminately spraying.

Here are a couple of publications to help identify and manage insects in soybeans:

Soybean Insect Identification Guide

Soybean Insect Management Guide

Jennifer Bearden

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/09/15/scouting-soybeans-for-insects/

Summer Lawn Insects beginning to Show-up

Theresa Friday
Horticulture Agent
Santa Rosa County Extension
tlfriday@ufl.edu

The long, hot days of summer means they you are likely to encounter greater insect populations. Careful routine scouting and recognizing damaging insects and their beneficial predators can help reduce the need for applying insecticides.

Chinch bugs

Chinch bugs love St. Augustinegrass lawns. The adults of this destructive insect are only about 1/5 of an inch long. They are black with what appears to be a white “X” across their backs where their wings fold over. The immature nymphs may be pink to orangey brown with a single white line across their backs.

The older nymphs (left) look similar to the adult (right). Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension

An indication of an early infestation is a subtle yellowing of the leaf blades.  This is quickly followed by a thinning of the canopy and eventual death of the turf.  These insects are somewhat unique in that they prefer hot sunny areas of the lawn over shade so their injury symptoms generally appear in an open area first.

To scout for these tiny insects in your lawn you will need to part the turf canopy to the soil surface along a line where there is a change from damaged yellowing turf to healthy green turf. They move rather quickly, so keep an alert eye for their scurrying back into the turf.

Carbaryl (Sevin®), cyfluthrin (Bayer Advanced Powerforce® Multi-Insect Killer), lambda-cyhalothrin (Spectracide® Triazicide® Insect Killer Once & Done!) and permethrin are labeled insecticides for their control.

Mole crickets

Mole crickets are not nature’s most beautiful insect specimens. Adults are odd-looking light brown crickets. The front legs are short, flat, and shaped like miniature shovels well equipped for digging in your yard. The immature insects, or nymphs, look the same as the adults, just smaller. Both, however, feed on the grass roots.

Mole cricket Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension

Walking across your grass may give you a hint to an infestation. The sod will have an unusual fluffiness to it. Closer examination will reveal holes in the ground about the size of a pencil. Small burrowing trails can also be seen.

However, we always want to confirm the presence of mole crickets. Mix two tablespoons of lemon liquid dishwashing soap in two gallons of water in a sprinkling can, and pour the solution onto a two by two foot section of affected turf. If two to four mole crickets emerge within four minutes after applying the soap solution, insecticide use may be justified.

For more information on how to treat for mole crickets, review a University of Florida online publication at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh034.

Sod webworm

Whenever small brown moths fly up as you mow, caterpillars are not far behind. The moths are there laying eggs and the caterpillars show up two to three weeks later.

Sod webworms eat leaf blades leaving a “notched” appearance Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension

Young caterpillars chew notches along the edge of the leaves. This creates a ragged appearance that may be hard to notice at first. Mature caterpillars eat a lot before they pupate and consume patches of turfgrass down to the crown. Because the turf looks scalped so quickly, people think that the damage occurs “overnight.” Several caterpillar species can be turfgrass pests, including the tropical sod webworm, the fall armyworm, and the striped grass looper.

Caterpillars can sometimes be seen, along with their frass, just on the surface of the soil Photo Credits: Theresa Friday, Santa Rosa County Extension

For more information on lawn caterpillars and your control options, visit the University of Florida “Lawn Caterpillars” online publication at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/IN608 or call your local Extension Agent.

Gardening in the Panhandle

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2012/02/03/summer-lawn-insects-beginning-to-show-up/