Category Archives: Pests of landscapes

Posts dealing with insects that affect landscape plants, turf.

Caterpillars in fall not so bad






Finding a caterpillar on a plant or tree in your backyard can be cause for excitement. But they should be little cause for concern, especially during the fall months. To most human eyes caterpillars are alien creatures. With their squishy, worm-like bodies, and accordion gait, they are weirdly unique among other insects. Some are large and fantastically showy.  Others have ominous-looking barbs and hairs. And some are skillfully camouflaged, nearly invisible among the leaves and shadows. When gardeners do encounter a caterpillar, reactions range from “cool!” to “yuck!!!” Caterpillars, of course, are the larval stage of moths and… Read More →




Girding our loins for emerald ash borer






The emerald ash borer (EAB) that has devastated ash trees throughout the Ohio River valley and Great Lakes region has finally made its way to the Lone Star State.  So far the beetle has been found in only one location in Harrison County, next to Caddo Lake; but over the next few years it will continue to spread.  As it does, it will slowly change the face of our native forests as well as our urban tree landscape. To prepare for the inevitable changes, Holly Jarvis with Texas A&M… Read More →




Turning the tide against ash borer?






On one hand, we’ve learned a lot about how to fight emerald ash borer with pesticides in the past 14 years since it was first discovered devouring ash forests in Michigan.  But we’re still learning how nature keeps EAB in its place in its native Asian home.  Insect parasites and predators are almost certainly the reason EAB is not a major pest on the other side of the globe. If only we could put some of those same beneficial insects to work for us!  Then maybe we could… Read More →




Emerald ash borer enters Texas






If you’re a Texan and haven’t heard about an insect called the emerald ash borer, that’s about to change.  The emerald ash borer (EAB) is an invasive beetle that feeds almost exclusively on ash (Fraxinus spp.) and has been slowly spreading through the eastern and midwest states from Michigan where it was first discovered in 2002. On May 23 the Texas Forest Service, along with the U.S. Forest Service, announced that four EAB beetles had been discovered on a trap in Harrison County, TX along the Louisiana border.  Although… Read More →




Controlling fire ants in sensitive areas






Among the common questions I receive about fire ants include questions on how to control them within vegetable gardens, compost bins and (increasingly) chicken coops. My favorite tool for fire ant control is use of fire ant bait broadcast over the entire home lawn and landscape.  This is an inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to keep fire ants away.  To learn more about this, check out the Texas Two-Step Method factsheet.  However, the most commonly available baits do not allow direct use in vegetable gardens or many areas with livestock…. Read More →




Changing retail market affects scale treatment options






In my Master Gardener classes one of the most confusing aspects of learning insecticides is common vs. trade names.  It’s actually not too different from retail and common names of over-the-counter drugs.  Tylenol® is one well known trade name for the active ingredient with the common name acetaminophen.  There are many other trade names for products that contain the same active ingredient, including Anacin® and Excedrin®, to name just two. In the same way, insecticides have common and trade names.  Acephate is the common name for an insecticide often labeled… Read More →




All Bugs Good and Bad webinar series






If part of your new year resolutions was to take charge of your life (and enhance your knowledge base about insects!) have we got a deal for you.  This year the eXtension group (pronounced EE-extension) is offering a new series of webinars on insect-related topics that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your easy chair or desk or wherever you log on. For gardeners topics will include fruit and vegetable insect control, fire ants, bee protection, proper fertilization and even snakes!  For homeowners and apartment dwellers,… Read More →




Oak leaf itch mite confirmed in Oklahoma






In the latest issue of Pest Alerts from the Entomology Department at Oklahoma State University, entomologist Justin Talley reports finding evidence of a biting pest that has not been seen in Oklahoma or Texas for over ten years. The oak leaf itch mite, Pyemotes herfsi, is cousin to the straw itch mite–a predatory mite often associated with stored grain and stored grain insects, and known to bite people who come in contact with infested grain.  It was first reported in the U.S. from Kansas in 2004, a year… Read More →




Recognizing emerald ash borer damage






This summer my assistant spent the better part of her summer hanging and checking over 100 purple sticky traps to determine whether Texas has been invaded yet by the dreaded emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis.  The beetle has already been detected in neighboring states of Arkansas and Louisiana; but much to our relief, after thousands of miles of winding county roads and many hundreds of traps, neither she nor our colleagues in the Texas Forest Service or Sam Houston State University found a single EAB.  However, this beetle is elusive.  And… Read More →




Bagworms in the fall






You’ve been watching your arborvitae all summer and noticing brown, spindle-shaped sacs hanging from the branches.  Someone points out to you that these are bagworms, a case-making caterpillar that feeds on leaves and can be highly damaging, especially to evergreen trees and shrubs like arborvitae and cedar. Now it’s late September, what do you do? Before I answer that question, it’s worth pointing out that bagworms are interesting insects with a decidedly non-traditional life cycle. Bagworms are not really worms, but caterpillars, the immature stages of a nondescript moth.  They… Read More →