Author Archives: loretta.cortez

An alluring auction

The Department of Entomology at Texas A&M is offering 20 lots of fly fishing supplies on auction this month.  The occasion of the sale is a sad one for all of us in the department, as the fly-tying supplies remained after the passing away of long-time Extension entomologist, Dr. John Jackman.  Dr. Jackman offered a class at Texas A&M on fly tying–the only entomology class that I am aware of that was ever cross-listed with the Art Department. John saw fly tying as an exciting blend of art… Read More →

When are June beetles… not?

One of the April-flying species of scarab beetle. This specimen is Phyllophaga hirtiventris, a cousin to the turf-eating June beetle. I’ve been getting questions about the numerous June beetles attracted to lights this spring.  Callers are wondering if the June beetles are coming earlier this year.  Is this another sign of global warming? You can relax on this one.  The clunky, loud beetles bumping against your screen windows aren’t another sign of large-scale climate change.  These are the “early-bird” scarab beetles.  We could call them “April” or “May”beetles,… Read More →

Fire ant season reminders

With a little bit of rain and warmer temperatures fire ant mounds are popping up throughout Texas and the southeast.  Spring mound season is an excellent time to think about controlling some of those larger mounds with a mound treatment of your choice. Despite the warm days with air temperatures in the 80s and 90s, soil temperatures are just climbing to levels where fire ants are thinking about foraging for food.  This means that in some areas it may still be a little early for applying fire ant… Read More →

Bed bugs in your hotel… what to do after?

Imagine that you’re traveling and staying in a nice hotel. The next morning you discover bites and confirm that your room has bed bugs. What do you do?  This is an increasingly common problem for travelers, as well as a nightmare for the hotel industry. Recently a question came into our office from a person with just this experience.  She had stayed in a hotel with bed bugs.  Immediately after returning home she called her local health department and was advised to discard all her personal belonging if… Read More →

Stopping catcus moth

Texas is under attack.  From lake-hogging zebra mussels and giant salvinia, to chilli thrips (a new pest of roses) and crape myrtle scale, insects from other countries seem to be entering the state at a record pace. recently published an update on the cactus moth invasion at  The cactus moth has undoubtedly been assisted by man, but appears to have made at least some of its journey unassisted by hopping from island to island across the Caribbean from South America. This particular moth threatens the cactus… Read More →

Keep the cabbage whites away

No, this is not a racist posting.  It’s about cabbage white butterflies.  I recently posted about this butterfly in my newly planted vegetable garden.  Cabbage white butterflies, Pieris rapae, are one of the most common pests of vegetable gardens.  The caterpillar, also known as the imported cabbageworm, feeds on many plants in the mustard family.  According to John Capinera’s Handbook of Vegetable Pests, vegetables attacked include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale and radishes, and others. Our entomologist in Overton, Texas, Scott Ludwig, caught a report of… Read More →

Oak gall midges

I recently received a sample of thousands of tiny (1-1/5 mm) maggots collected from a local yard.  The sample was collected by Susan Bailey of Plano, who noticed writhing masses of these worm-like critters on her driveway and ground under a live oak tree. Now anyone who lives around live oaks knows that for the past ten days or so these trees have been showering the world with pollen and the senescent catkins (male flowers).  These tiny larvae are occasionally reported under oak trees shortly after flowering. After… Read More →

Bed bug vs. bedbug

Last week, while reviewing an article in which I was quoted, I commented to the reporter about the spelling of the insect name “bed bug”.  The article writer was using the condensed (one word) form of the name and I argued that it should be two words. This is consistent, I said, with the way other insect compound names are handled. The editor thanked me for my input and said they would “look into it”. I suspect I know what that means.  The lumpers seem to be winning over… Read More →

Natural poses of moths

I love field guides of all kinds, but because of my profession I especially enjoy insect field guides.  I’ve come to appreciate well selected photos or artwork that carefully depict an organism’s key identification characters.  There is also a certain aesthetic to a meticulously-posed picture of a series of butterflies, or moths or beetles. You can recognize a quality posed moth or butterfly by the uniformly spread wings.  The trailing edge of the front wing should be perpendicular to the body and the hind wings must be pulled… Read More →

Start vegetable pest control early

It’s officially spring, and for most of us in Texas the average frost free date is now passed.  This means that new vegetable gardens are appearing in backyards; and nurseries are selling tomato and pepper plants as fast as they can restock their shelves. I planted my modest vegetable and herb garden this weekend and literally before I could get my bok-choy and spinach in the ground, the pests were all over.  While my Chinese cabbage was sitting in its small pot waiting to be planted, I watched… Read More →