Tag Archive: Pests

Fall Vegetable Production Workshop – Combating Insect Pests September 12, 2017

Fall Vegetable Production Workshop – Combating Insect Pests September 12, 2017

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017 UF / IFAS Extension Washington County will be providing a insect pest identification and management workshop for vegetable producers and home gardeners throughout Northwest Florida.

Entomology specialists from the University of Florida and Extension agents will be leading hands on sessions focusing on insect pest management in vegetable production. This workshop is relevant to anyone growing vegetable crops in any season, but will have a special focus on fall vegetable pests. 

Lunch will be provided and  CEUs for pesticide license holders will also be available.

Cost: $ 15.00

Address: Washington County Ag Center East Wing, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley FL 32428.

Time: 8:30am-3:00pm

Pre Registration required for count: Contact Nikki or Cynthia at 850-638-6180 or email Matthew Orwat at mjorwat@ufl.edu

or register online at eventbrite HERE !


  • Welcome and Introduction  8:30am-8:35 Matthew Orwat, Washington County Cooperative Extension,  Amanda Hodges, University of Florida

  • True bugs in Fall Vegetables-Identification and Management                      9:00am-10:15am

  • Cowpea Curculio                                                                                           10:15am-10:30pm

  • Break                                                                                                             10:30am-10:45am

  • Whitefly Management                                                                                    10:45am-11:10am

  • Invasive Species problems in North Florida Vegetable Production        11:10am-11:30am

  • Invasive Stink Bugs and Related True Bugs                                                  11:30am-11:50pm

  • Lunch    11:50pm-12:30pm

  • Tomato leafminer Tuta absoltua                                                                     12:30m-12:45pm

  • Old World bollworm and Exotic Spodoptera Pests                                         12:45pm-1:05pm

  • Common Vegetable Plant Diseases in the Florida Panhandle                       1:05pm-1:35pm

  • Pest and Pathogen Walk                                                                                 1:35pm-2:05pm

  • CAPS Exotic Corn Diseases of Concern                                                         2:05pm-2:35pm

  • Sample Submission, Arthropod and Disease samples                                    2:35pm-2:50p







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.

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/26/fall-vegetable-production-workshop-combating-insect-pests-september-12-2017/

New UF/IFAS Entomologist is Surveying Insect Pests in Panhandle Row Crops

New UF/IFAS Entomologist is Surveying Insect Pests in Panhandle Row Crops

Dr. Silvana Paula-Moraes (right) and her field technician Latisa Ledbetter-Kish (left).

Silvana Paula-Moraes began working in the fall of 2016 at the  UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center (WFREC) based in Jay, Florida. Originally from Brazil, Dr. Moraes completed her PhD in Nebraska.  Her research has been dedicated to address several aspects of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Insect Resistance Management (IRM) for corn, cotton, and soybean.

Her appointment at WFREC is 70% research and 30% teaching, and will address several components of IPM, including the ecology of insect pests associated with field crops in Florida, insect movement, host utilization, and differential exposure to Bt toxins in Bt crops. This year, Dr. Moraes and Latisa Ledbetter-Kish, her field technician, have been working with Extension agents to monitor insect populations across three Panhandle counties (Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Jackson) in corn, peanuts, and cotton. UF/IFAS Extension Agent Libbie Johnson is coordinating the effort with growers in the western counties, and Ethan Carter with growers in Jackson County. Starting out, her first objective is to document the pests prevalent in the Florida Panhandle.

Her work includes the use of pheromone traps in both irrigated and dryland peanut and cotton fields. Pheromone traps consist of a plastic popup A-frame structure, with a sticky trap bottom liner placed inside. On the liner a small lure infused with pheromones is used to attract adult moths to the trap from a distance spanning roughly 60 meters.

Sticky sheet known as a liner on the bottom of trap with a lure placed in the middle (left), complete trap showing a liner and lure inside (right).

There are roughly eight fields across each county where pheromone traps are used to collect the adult moths of fall armyworms, soybean loopers, and corn earworms. Each field has a total of six traps, which are spaced equidistant and grouped in sets of three on two sides of a field.

Example of pheromone traps grouped in a peanut field (left), along with a close up of a trap (right).

Every two weeks, the liners are removed from the traps, dated and bagged, so that the number of moths from the two week span can be recorded in the lab for each trap location. The lure itself is replaced every four weeks.

Dr. Moraes holding a newly collected liner (left), example of a bagged liner which is taken to her lab for processing, so that the number of moths can be recorded.

Aside from pheromone traps, she is also collecting insects from the fields through the use of active sampling using a sweep net, beat cloth, and plant inspection. Samples are collected several times throughout the growing season, while the crops are at various physiological stages.

Ethan and Latisa sampled a peanut field during the the 2017 growing season using a beat cloth and plant inspection.

Overtime, this work will provide Florida-specific data regarding the frequency of moth flights, insect life cycle, threshold levels, and will help determine any pest resistance issues- whether it be from insecticide sprays or Bt crops.



Author: Ethan Carter – ethancarter@ufl.edu

Ethan Carter is the Regional Row Crop IPM Agent in Jackson County. He earned his BS in Food and Resource Economics, and his MS in Agronomy, both from the University of Florida.

Ethan Carter

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/11/new-ufifas-entomologist-is-surveying-insect-pests-in-panhandle-row-crops/

Workshop on New and Re-emerging Rose Diseases and Pests, July 11, 1-5 pm.

Workshop on New and Re-emerging Rose Diseases and Pests, July 11, 1-5 pm.

Come to this free workshop to learn about the latest results of University of Florida and national research on roses. Receive hands-on training on symptoms and management of rose rosette disease, rose mosaic disease, crown gall, and rose pests.


FL Pesticide CEUs, FNGLA CEUs and GA Pesticide CEUs have been applied for!


This program is geared for nursery and greenhouse growers, landscapers, municipal maintenance personnel, Extension personnel, Rosarians, rose enthusiasts and science teachers. Sponsored by Farm Credit of Northwest Florida and Harrell’s.


To register for this FREE event, please go to: https://rose-diseases-pests.eventbrite.com




Author: Gary Knox – gwknox@ufl.edu

Gary Knox is an Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture with the University of Florida at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. Dr. Knox’s research interests focus on evaluating species and cultivars of woody plants for their invasive potential as well as for ornamental characteristics. In addition to research plantings, Dr. Knox is working with a nonprofit volunteer group to develop “Gardens of the Big Bend,” a series of botanical, teaching and evaluation gardens at the Center.

Gary Knox

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/22/workshop-on-new-and-re-emerging-rose-diseases-and-pests-july-11-1-5-pm/

Potential Pests and Diseases of Olives in Florida

Potential Pests and Diseases of Olives in Florida

Adult glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis. Photo Credit: Lyle J. Buss, UF/IFAS

Figure 1. Adult glassy-winged sharpshooter, Homalodisca vitripennis. Photo Credit: Lyle J. Buss, UF/IFAS

Russ Mizell, Peter Andersen and Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman

Olives, Olea europaea, are a newly-developing crop in Florida, but much still remains to be learned of the potential pests. Olives are best adapted to dry Mediterranean climates with some winter chilling. Production under Florida climatic conditions can be considered as “off-site” and plants are likely to be subjected to abiotic and biotic stressors because of elevated rainfall and humidity and additional pest and disease pressure. Plants that are stressed are often attacked by generalist insect pests such as wood borers that serve an ecological role as recyclers. In fact, predictably, a clearwing moth, the Ash borer, has been found infesting olive tree trunks in the Live Oak area.

A more troubling situation is with a known insect-spread plant pathogen, Xylella fastidiosa, that has manifested itself as a major pest and tree killer in Italy (known there as olive quick decline syndrome).  Xylella fastidiosa is a bacterium that resides in the plant xylem tissue. It is transmitted almost exclusively by xylem-feeding leafhoppers and their relatives the tree and plant hoppers. Assorted strains of this bacterium are the causal agent of phony peach disease, plum leaf scald, and Pierce’s disease of grapes, citrus variegated chlorosis, and leaf scorch of almond, coffee, elm, oak, oleander, pear, and sycamore.

Diseases caused by X. fastidiosa are most prevalent in the southeastern United States, but may also occur the Northeast, Southern Midwestern states, and in California.  Fortunately, the European strain known to cause olive quick decline syndrome has not been found in the U.S., but unfortunately, the main European vector identified to date, a plant hopper, Philaenus spumarius, is a common, native insect inhabiting Florida. In northern Florida, X. fastidiosa can limit peach and plum orchard life. European varieties of wine and table grape are virtually non-existent in Florida and surrounding states due to Pierce’s disease, while most muscadine grapes are resistant, but can harbor the pathogen.

Presently, because of the introduction of a new vector, the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Figure 1.), Homalodisca vitripennis, grape production in California is threatened. This leafhopper is native to the Southeastern U.S. and is found on Florida olives commonly in the summer months. Other leafhopper vectors include H. insolita, Oncometopia spp., Graphocephala spp. and Draeculacephala spp. These insects are commonly found in Florida in association with weeds, shrubs, and trees that serve as reservoirs for X. fastidiosa.

Leafhoppers can become infectious after feeding on a diseased plant for a short period of time. The bacterium colonizes and survives in structures that are part of the insect mouthparts. Once the insect has acquired the bacteria, it can be spread to subsequent plants simply by feeding (like a dirty needle would help spread human pathogens). Adult leafhoppers remain infectious for life. Leafhoppers feed and lay eggs on an extremely wide range of plant species, they are strong fliers and can feed on hosts over a large area during their long lifetime. Leafhoppers infected with X. fastidiosa have been collected almost every month of the year in Florida.

Olive growers should be aware of the potential for problems with the disease. Most likely it will be sometime, if ever, before it kills trees in Florida. However, if citrus greening is an example, the vector arrived first and then the pathogen approximately 5 years or so later.  Producers should remain observant and very careful where they obtain their trees and the source of the germplasm used by nurseries. No germplasm should be transported into the U.S. illegally from outside the country.  To prevent the spread of insects and diseases, please purchase trees from licensed nurseries. If you are shipping or moving trees please make sure trees are healthy and pest (and fruit) free.

For more information on this topic, please see the following UF/IFAS Publication:

Pests and Fungal Organisms Identified on Olives in Florida



Author: Russ Mizell – rfmizell@ufl.edu


Russ Mizell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/10/15/potential-pests-and-diseases-of-olives-in-florida/

Arthropod Pests of Strawberries

Arthropod Pests of Strawberries

Evan Anderson, Walton County Agriculture Agent

Anderson StrawberryStrawberries are currently in full production, and seeing rows of beautiful berries at a u-pick operation, or flats of flawless fruits in the store makes it easy for the consumer to forget how many pests and diseases growers must deal with. Strawberries take a great deal of management to produce, and part of that management is dealing with insects and other arthropods. While not all of them find the berries themselves to be delicious, these pests can nevertheless damage a crop to the point of significant financial loss.

The major arthropod pests North Florida strawberry growers deal with include the tarnished plant bug, two-spotted spider mites, thrips, aphids, and various types of caterpillars. There is no one treatment that is effective for the control of all these pests, so proper scouting is necessary to identify what is present on the crop. Once the problem has been identified, the correct control method can be chosen.

Tarnished Plant Bug Adult

Tarnished Plant Bug Adult. Photo credit: Scott Bauer, USDA

Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph

Tarnished Plant Bug Nymph. Photo credit: Evan Anderson

Tarnished plant bugs, Lygus lineolaris, spend the winter as adults, hiding wherever they can find shelter from the weather. They lay their eggs on a variety of host plants, which include strawberries, and complete their life cycle in three to four weeks. Since they feed on so many different plants, and go through three or four generations each year, control may be difficult. Removing host weeds such as goldenrod and dog fennel from the surrounding area may help. Pesticides such as pyrethrins, acetamiprid, bifenthrin, or carbaryl can be used to control tarnished plant bugs as well.

Two-Spotted Spider Mites

Two-Spotted Spider Mites. Photo credit: Evan Anderson

The two-spotted spider mite is a tiny arachnid that can build up huge populations on strawberry crops, especially during hot, dry weather. They are often found on the underside of leaves, and may require a hand lens to be seen. They pierce plant tissues and suck out its juices, causing leaves to appear yellow and stippled. Home gardeners may be able to use an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to control spider mites, but larger producers may need a miticide such as abamectin or acequinocyl.

Chewing damage on flowers or leaves may be caused by caterpillar pests. Armyworms, cutworms, and corn earworms are just a few such pests that may be found attacking strawberry plants. Pesticides containing Bacillus thuringiensis or azadirachtin can be effective for caterpillar control.

There may also be biological controls available for larger scale growers. The release of predatory or parasitic insects can help reduce the population of harmful arthropods. Lacewings, ladybugs, pirate bugs, and parasitic wasps have all been used to attack harmful pests on strawberries.

For more recommendations on the control of strawberry pests, utilize the following links to fact sheets, or contact your County Agriculture Agent.

Strawberry Production  (Chapter 15: Florida Vegetable Production Handbook)

Growing Strawberries in the Florida Home Garden



Author: eanderson350 – eanderson350@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/04/23/arthropod-pests-of-strawberries/

Beating Pests with Plant Chemicals

Beating Pests with Plant Chemicals

It would seem that landscapes are filled with pests ready to devour our favorite plants. We can often see evidence of pest damage in the form of leaf curls, stippled leaves, or chewed holes in foliage. How do plants survive with all the pest threats without intervention from people?

Many plants have their own alert system to help manage a plant-feeding insect attack. When tissues are damaged by plant feeders, the plant releases volatile chemicals that serve as signals for many beneficial insects. Predators such as lady beetles, lacewings, and predatory bugs ‘pick up’ the chemical signals and fly to the injured plants to find their prey.

Ladybeetle larvae will eat many soft-bodied pests.

Ladybeetle larvae will eat many soft-bodied pests.

An interesting part of this occurrence is that the release of chemicals by one plant can stimulate other surrounding plants to build up their chemical defenses against future pest feeding.

The key lesson for all gardeners is that there are many natural processes going on without our knowledge. Instead of immediately applying a broad-spectrum insecticide at the earliest sign of pest feeding on a plant, give the predators a chance to provide you with a free and environmentally sound form of pest control.


Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/08/26/beating-pests-with-plant-chemicals/

Getting to Know Your Backyard Pests

Getting to Know Your Backyard Pests

Deer are known to eat daylilies in the landscape. To prevent browsing, choose other plants or create a barrier with deer fencing.

Deer are known to eat daylilies in the landscape. To prevent browsing, choose other plants or create a barrier with deer fencing.

Any seasoned gardener knows that even a well maintained garden will eventually face a pest issue. Pests come in all shapes and sizes and may include weeds, disease, insects, moles, rabbits, birds, and deer. Although some gardeners may invite wildlife into their gardens when that adorable deer eats your prized hydrangea it tends to lose the cuteness factor.

Regardless of what type of pest issue you are facing, the only way to establish a successful control program is to correctly identify and understand some basic things about the pest. Incorrect assumptions or misidentification can lead to taking the wrong action and may even cause more harm to plants.

Some things to know about your pest (after identification):

  • Preferred host or target plant – diversify landscapes to minimize susceptibility to each pest.
  • Feeding/damage caused – is it just aesthetic or will it cause long-term harm?
  • For rapidly reproducing pests such as insects or fungi, what is the timing of new generations? For example, if you eliminate adult insects expect that eggs are waiting to hatch – you need to know when to retreat.
  • What natural enemies might help reduce populations and how can they be preserved?
  • Be sure to match control methods with pest behavior and activity. For example, if you want to use an insecticidal soap on azalea lace but you need to know that they feed from the underside of the leaf in order to properly coat them with the product.

Take the time to get to know the pest in your backyard and management efforts will be much more effective. For help with identification and control, contact your local extension office.


Author: Julie McConnell – juliebmcconnell@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Bay County Horticulture Extension Agent I

Julie McConnell

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/07/27/getting-to-know-your-backyard-pests/

High Tunnels Can Exclude Vegetable Pests

High Tunnels Can Exclude Vegetable Pests

High tunnel Tomato Crop at UF/IFAS WFREC: photo by Blake Thaxton

High tunnel Tomato Crop at UF/IFAS WFREC: photo by Blake Thaxton

High tunnel crop production has steadily increased in Northwest Florida, with many utilizing funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). There are many benefits to high tunnel production with crop earliness being the most talked about. Another major benefit being observed through trials in Jay, FL, at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center includes reduced disease occurrence, specifically foliage diseases on tomatoes.

One problem that has been observed, however, is insect pest populations in the structures. Stinkbugs, Leaffooted bugs, various caterpillar pests, and spider mites, have all been problems in the trials conducted this year. Control of some of these pests can be difficult in high tunnels, particularly for those growers opting for organic production practices.

Net house exclusion technique for pepper crop: Photo by Blake Thaxton

Net house exclusion technique for pepper crop: photo by Blake Thaxton

One option that has been studied at Auburn University and the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service is that of exclusion by providing a barrier in which the insect cannot cross. A  high tunnel can be retro-fitted with shade-cloth blocking the opening fairly inexpensively to exclude leaffooted bug, squash bugs, cabbage loopers, and others. With a 40% shade cloth barrier, these pests will be excluded while still allowing beneficial lady beetles through. See the full publication from Southern SARE: High Tunnel Pest Exclusion System A novel strategy for organic crop production in the South.  Similar results can also be achieved in shade house structures as seen in the photos above.

Stink & Leaffooted bug damage can make the fruit unmarketable: photo by Andrea Byars

Stinkbug & Leaffooted bug damage can make the fruit unmarketable: photo by Andrea Byars

Observations from this year’s trials were that Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) had good efficacy on controlling caterpillar pests, if targeted when worms were still small. Mites were very damaging in the hot dry environment of the high tunnel. Efforts were made to slow down the infestation with horticultural oil + aziderachtin and horticultural oil + pyrethrin tank mixes. These applications had limited success. Populations were very high by the time it was addressed late in the crop season, therefore the control methods used were mainly an attempt for suppression.

For more information on trials being conducted at the WFREC visit their site at: http://wfrec.ifas.ufl.edu/variety/.  For specific interest in the high tunnel trials being conducted email Santa Rosa Agent, Blake Thaxton for more information.



Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/06/20/high-tunnels-can-exclude-vegetable-pests/

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



Author: Russ Mizell – rfmizell@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/

Douse Those Pests With Oil!

For centuries, people annoyed with plant pests have used oils to control insects, mites, and even some fungal diseases. Current oil products are better than ever!

horticultural oil and neem oil bottles

Sample oil products for pest control. Photo by Mary Derrick.

Commercially available horticultural oils are mineral oils from refined petroleum products. Impurities are removed and then an emulsifying agent is added that allows the oil to mix with water for application. Neem oil is a newer product that has become increasingly popular; the oil is an extract of the seeds of the neem tree.

What are some of the advantages of using an oil for pest control?

  • Oils are inexpensive and easy to apply
  • Oils can be used on most plants (check the label for a list!)
  • Oils control a wide range of pests that feed on plants (again, check the label for a list of pests the product will control!)
  • Oils pose a low risk to people, pets, and desirable beneficial predators
  • Since oils kill pests by blocking their breathing holes (spiracles) and/or gumming up their mouthparts, there is no chance for resistance to develop
  • One product can control both insects and some diseases like powdery mildew at once
  • Oils can be combined with some other pesticides to provide greater control


 Don’t combine with, or use within 30 days of, any sulfur based pesticide. The combination can harm your plants!

There are always drawbacks to a product. What are the drawbacks?

  • Some plants (including cryptomeria, junipers, cedars, maples, and redbud) are damaged by oils – check the label!
  • Ensure good coverage during spraying as pests must be contacted with the oil in order for the control to work
  • Oils break down quickly and reapplication may be necessary
  • Check the label for instructions on the temperature range when it can be used. Older formulations generally are safe when temperatures are in the 40 to 80°F range but ultra-fine oils can generally be safely applied during hotter weather.


For further information:

Natural Products for Insect Pest Management from UF IFAS Extension

Insect Control: Horticultural Oils from Colorado State University Extension

Less Toxic Pesticides  from Clemson University Cooperative Extension



Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/11/04/douse-those-pests-with-oil/

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