Insects directly affect the lives of all Mississippi citizens. You don’t have to be a farmer or gardener to be plagued by insects. Fire ants and mosquitoes are just two examples of insect pests that affect us all.
Every major row crop grown in the state is subject to attack by a variety of insect pests, and farmers often suffer large yield losses to insects despite spending a significant portion of their crop production budget on insect control.
Commercial fruit and vegetable crops are similarly affected, and home vegetable gardeners are well-aware that insects are a constant threat to tomatoes and other home vegetables.
Ornamental plants and turfgrass are also subject to attack by a variety of insects: azalea lace bugs damage azaleas in home and commercial landscapes, crape myrtle bark scale is a serious new pest of crape myrtles, and chinch bugs damage St. Augustine lawns.
Insects, like mosquitoes and ticks, bite people and sometimes spread serious diseases, while insects like fleas plague our pets, and horn flies and other livestock pests feed on livestock, reducing growth rates and feed use efficiency.
Termites and a few other insects even eat our homes, while insect pests such as confused flour beetles and cloths moths damage food and clothing stored inside our homes.
Successful insect control requires proactive planning, proper pest identification, understanding pest biology, and a sound knowledge of control options and how and when to apply control. Insecticides are useful tools for controlling insect pests, but insecticides are only one of many methods of insect management. Plant selection, variety selection, time of planting, cultural practices, natural biological control, and exclusion are just a few examples of non-insecticidal methods that can help reduce the need for insecticide use. When insecticides are needed, knowing which insecticide to use and how to apply it safely is critical to obtaining effective control for minimum cost and effort.
These web pages and the publications they reference can help you learn more about the insect pests that affect you, your home and landscape, or the crops you produce, and they provide specific recommendations on how to control these pests.
Insects and their habitats take center stage during Bugfest at the Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum in Picayune on Sept. 21 and 22.
Even if you preventatively treat your yard periodically through the year for fire ants, you’ll still see mounds pop up.
There are two ways to treat these mounds: liquid drenches and dry powders. (File photo by MSU Extension Service.)
Fire ant mounds always pop up right where you don’t need them – in the flower bed you planned to weed tomorrow, next to the mailbox that needs to be reset, and near the patio where you are throwing a party tonight. (Photo by Brian Utley/Cindy Callahan)
Fire ants are everywhere. If you’ve thrown your hands up in exasperation trying to deal with them, don’t give up just yet. (File photo by MSU Extension Service)
A tiny pest is making a huge impact on crape myrtles across the state, threatening to turn this go-to plant into something that gardeners avoid.