Common Garden Pests
If you have a home garden, you know the pain of managing the pests that feast on your crops. Luckily, you won’t have to guess what bug is snacking on your plants! We’ve gathered information on common pests found in Mississippi gardens to help you identify and manage the bugs that are giving you problems!
- Attacks most garden vegetables.
- Avoid unnecessary insecticide use because it can disrupt natural control efforts. Use water spray from a garden hose to dislodge isolated concentrations of aphids.
- Attacks most garden vegetables, especially cucumbers, beans, tomatoes, and eggplant.
- Keep plants properly watered. Drought stress can favor spider mite infestation, and drought-stressed plants are less able to tolerate mite injury.
- To control, get thorough coverage with folia insecticide sprays. Pay special attention to the undersides of leaves. Treat at least twice at 4-to-5-day intervals.
Squash Vine Borer
- Attacks squash, pumpkins, and other cucurbits.
- Plant early to avoid the much heavier populations that occur in late season.
- Destroy the plants after the final harvest, or plants that have died, to prevent the borers from completing development.
- Repeated, thorough sprays are necessary to control squash vine borers with insecticides. Spray the vines, base of plant, leaf petioles, and undersides of leaves with sprays including permethrin, bifenthrin, acetamiprid, or setamethrin.
- Attacks tomatoes, tomatillos, corn, and occasionally other vegetables.
- Early crops normally have lower infestations than late-summer and fall crops. Because of the high number of spray applications required to control this pest in corn, most home gardeners choose to do nothing and simply discard the damaged portion of the ear at harvest.
- Corn can be partially protected by spraying with an insecticide at three-to-five-day intervals. Tomatoes are a different matter! Heavy infestations of tomato fruitworms can destroy more than 50 percent of a tomato crop if not controlled.
- Begin treating tomatoes after they begin to bloom and set fruit, spraying at 7-to-10-day intervals. Use insecticides including Spinosad, permethrin, biferthin, cyhalothrin, and zetamethrin.
- The goal is to control small, newly hatched caterpillars. Once they get large and have entered the vegetables, they’re hard to control.
- Attacks tomatoes and other vegetables.
- Early planting can help avoid the high numbers of leaf-footed bugs appear in late summer and fall. You can plant sunflowers can be used as a “trap crop.” Heavy numbers often congregate on developing sunflower blooms, where you can kill them with contact sprays. Such treatments work best when applied early in the morning, when insects are less likely to fly. If you don’t treat them, though, sunflowers can serve as a nursery crop, resulting in higher populations of leaf-footed bugs.
- You must spray adult leaf-footed bugs directly to have control. This can be difficult because of the insect’s habit of flying away when disturbed. Apply sprays early in the morning when insects are cooler and less likely to fly.
- Attack sweet potatoes and eggplants.
- It is uncommon for tortoise beetles to cause serious damage. You may see them on other plants, but they’re mainly on sweet potatoes and eggplants.
- To control directly spray malathion and zetamethrin to the undersides of leaves.
- Attacks tomatoes, okra, Southern peas, beans, and corn.
- Try to plant peas, beans, and tomatoes early to avoid the high numbers of stink bugs common in late summer and fall.
- Hand-picking egg masses, nymphs, and adults can help slow population buildup in small plantings. You may have to spray several times with insecticides like malathion, bifenthrin, and cyhalothrin, to control the heavy infestations.
- Attack tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, cucumbers, other cucurbits, brassicas, and other vegetables.
- Avoid unnecessary insecticide use, which can disrupt natural control efforts. At the end of the day, it is better not to spray than to spray with the wrong insecticide.
- Insecticides such as malathion, Sevin, permethrin, or other pyrethroids will increase whitefly populations. If you do want to treat them, make two to three sprays of acetamiprid at 5-to-7-day intervals.
- When planting young seedlings or transplants, apply imidacloprid as a soil drench if your garden has a history of whitefly problems.
- Attacks eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables.
- Control horse nettle and other weed species that serve as alternate hosts for flea beetles in and around the garden. It’s recommended to keep your garden tilled or mulched when you’re not using it. You can use row covers to keep out adult flea beetles.
- Use foliar sprays as needed to control adult flea beetles. Treat especially susceptible species, such as eggplant, immediately after transplanting.
- Soil drench treatment with imidacloprid, applied at planting or immediately after planting, will help prevent flea beetle damage on especially susceptible crops.
- Attack cucumbers, melons, other cucurbits, beans, Southern peas, and corn.
- Use row covers to exclude adults from emerging seedlings. Check emerging seedlings frequently and treat promptly if needed.
- Adult beetles may continue to arrive, resulting in the need for follow-up treatments. Soil drench treatment with imidacloprid, applied at planting or immediately after planting, will help prevent early cucumber beetle damage on young squash, pumpkins, and other cucurbits.
Get a full rundown on all the pests found in vegetable gardens by checking out Extension Publication 2347.You can also reach out to your local Extension office for recommendations and guidance as you grow your summer and fall vegetable crops!
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