January Garden Pests Control in South Florida
Many garden insect pests are active during the warmer season, spring through summer, but as the season cools down many go dormant by overwintering in leaf litter, plant debris, under rocks and logs, tree holes, and other areas of the landscapes that are considered to be a haven but some can still be found actively lurking that can cause damage to garden plants and lawns. We will be taking a closer look at these garden pests and how to control them to reduce their populations so they are no longer a threat to plant life.
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Aphids and Their Control
Aphids are small pare-shaped soft-bodied insect pests that infest outdoor as well as indoor plants, aphids cause damage by feeding on the tender, young, or soft shoots of garden plants piercing the plant’s tissue and extracting the juice or the plant’s fluids.
Besides their presence that can be found in great numbers, other signs include leaves that are twisted and curled, infected leaves that turn yellow, and shoots that become stunted and die. If aphids are allowed to persist the plant’s health will continue to decline.
To reduce their population a strong stream of water sprayed directly on them from a garden hose with an attached nozzle will knock them off garden plants bringing elimination but to avoid damaging or breaking the tender plant shoot by blasting with a strong stream of water consider the application of horticultural oil or insecticidal soap, applying pesticides according to the manufacturer’s direction will bring good results.
Caterpillars and Their Control
Caterpillars can cause much damage to plants by chewing on the leaves, shoots, fruits, flowers, and other plant parts, signs of caterpillars besides spotting them are chewed leaf edges, holes in leaves, and leaves that are rolled up and fastened with silk. In some cases, the entire leaf might be missing.
There are several ways to bring control, either handpicking them and throwing them in a container of soapy water, insecticidal soap, or a microbial insecticide with an active ingredient like Bacillus thuringiensis. When using pesticides make sure and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
Biological control has also proven to be beneficial, for example, releasing parasitic wasps or encouraging adult beetles in your garden. These are just a few ways to bring control.
Flea Beetles and Their Control
Cool-season vegetables can suffer at the hands of flea bettles but with the right control measures can reduce flea bettles populations, some winter crops include, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes, turnips, spinach, eggplant, potatoes, etc…
Flea beetles at the adult stage are very small (1/16-1/8 long), these beetles range in colors from brown, black, metallic gray, bluish, or bronze. Some species of flea beetles are known to have stripes. All flea beetles have large black legs which they use for jumping especially when they are disturbed.
Signs of flea beetles include tiny pin holes on the plant’s new growth, which is caused by the beetles feeding or chewing in the leaf’s undersides, heavier infestation causes bleached or pitted areas and ragged holes.
In some cases total leaves are lost resulting in wilted or stunted plants, adults females cause more damage not only because of feeding on the stems and the leaves but laying eggs in the soil nearby.
Some control measures include sticky traps, Sevin insect killer ready-to-use, and Sevin insect killer dust ready-to-use. Neem oil and Diatomaceous act as a repellent, before using pesticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
Chinch Bug Control and Their Control
Chinch bugs are active from March to November in North Central Florida but are active year-round in South Florida. Chinch bugs are small and black measuring from 1/8″ – 1/10″ in length.
Their wings are flat on their back and shiny white with a triangle-shaped blackmarking in the middle of the outer edge of each wing, the adult chinch bugs can have long or short wings. These bugs cause damage by feeding on the grassroots.
Signs of chich bug damage to lawns include small yellow patches which will spread and grow because of constant feeding, the grass then turns brown in (dead grass) patches. To treat chinch bug infestation there are many options, for example, applying Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, Sevin® Insect Killer Granules, Talstar Xtra Granular Insecticide, Talstar P Professional Insecticide, Talstar Pl Granular Insecticide, and ProCare Bifen7.9 Insecticide. Before using pesticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
Sod Webworms and Their Control
Sod webworms are active from spring through fall but in South Florida they are active year-round, these worms are laid by the female moth. Once the eggs hatch it’s the larva that does the damage. Mature caterpillars are ¾ to 1 inch long and grayish-green. These caterpillars do damage by feeding on the grass blades, they love moist conditions hiding under mulch or in thatch during day hours but are active during the night when they surface to feed.
Signs of sod webworm include patches of healthy grass turning brown, look for patches where the grass is extremely dry. When inspecting areas near the roots if small white cylinders are seen constructed from fine webbing you have a sod webworm infestation.,
Several pesticides can be used to bring control, a few of them are Sevin® Insect Killer Concentrate, Sevin® Insect Killer Granules, Sevin® Insect Killer Ready to Spray, Bacillus thuringiensis B.t., Spinosad, etc… before using insecticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
Southern Mole Crickets and Their Control
Southern mole crickets cause damage by tunneling through the soil often close to the soil surface severing grass roots they also eat the roots and shoots of grass. These crickets are active year-round but become more prevalent in Florida during the winter months because of moist conditions.
The Southern mole cricket ranges from 1 to 1¾ inches long and is a dull dark brown with four-light colored spots on the pronotum, all mole crickets have enlarged shovel-like front legs for digging.
To control southern mole cricket apply either Bifen LP Granules, imidacloprid, permethrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, carbaryl, gramma cyhalothrin, etc… before applying to your lawn areas read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
Armyworms and Their Control
Sod webworms are often confused with armyworms, but to know the difference armyworms are larger and flatter, armyworms like sod webworms also prefer moist conditions becoming a problem to Florida lawns during the winter months.
Armyworms can be identified by having a series of red, brown, green, or yellow stripes down their sides and backs. Adult armyworm moths measure about 1 1/2 inches across. Their front wings are dark gray with light and dark splotches, but their hind wings are pale gray-white.
Signs of these worms include the grass thinning out and developing brown spots, the spots appear burned. This appearance is the result of grass plants rapidly dehydrating after fall armyworm larvae have chewed off the tender foliage. These worms can be controlled by the application of neem oil, and pesticides containing active ingredients such as bifenthrin, spinosad, cyfluthrin, etc… before using pesticides read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.
The final word on January garden pests in South Florida
Let’s start the year off right in our gardens by ensuring that these garden pests are under control, garden insect pests can turn a dream garden into a nightmare even robbing us of our f00d (harvest) crops but the good news is we can win the war on these garden best by striking back with these proven methods that brings great results. If you are having issues in your garden during this time of the year it may be that one or more of these pests are the cause so be the detective and inspect your garden to ensure that if it’s any of these issues you are equipped with the right knowledge to take action so that your garden can thrive rewarding you with a good harvest.
About the author
Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.