Garden insects

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 11:30 AM.

Leaf footed plant bugs – gets its name from the appearance of its hind legs which are large and flattened in a leaf-like shape near the feet it is generally dark or chestnut brown with a cross bar about halfway down its body. 

Whitefly – the most common whitefly found on Florida vegetables is called the sliver leaf whitefly because of the effect its feeding has on squash leaves.  Feeding by the immature stages or nymphs can also result in white areas in tomato fruits, streaking of pepper fruit, and blanching of broccoli stems.  Whiteflies are not flies, but distant relatives of aphids and leaf hoppers and like them, feed on plant sap with piercing-sucking mouthparts. 

Stinkbugs – are common pests of most all plants and are generally solitary feeders in the adult stage.  Immature nymphs, which do not fly, may be found in groups.  All stinkbugs give off a characteristic foul smell as a defensive weapon when disturbed.

All this may sound discouraging.   But, fortunately, it’s actually fairly easy and inexpensive to control your local County Extension Office or Garden Center for recommended insecticides to control foliage feeding pests.

The insects which live in the soil are a different matter, because it’s hard to reach them with sprays.

Cutworms simply cut young vegetable plants off at the soil surface.  Mole crickets tunnel through the soil in the root zone, feeding on the roots and disturbing the surrounding earth.  Wireworms attack a wide variety of vegetables.  Living deep in the soil, they move up quickly to attack seeds or young plants.  Wireworms drill holes in the seeds and feed inside them or they bore into the taproot of the plant.  Insects in this category are best controlled with insecticide baits, which are normally available at garden centers.

One thing we don’t want to do is encourage you to use pesticides if you really don’t need to.  While a preventative spray program might be essential in a large scale commercial operation, you can usually deal with insects in the backyard garden on an “as needed” basis.

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