Category Archives: Pests of landscapes

Posts dealing with insects that affect landscape plants, turf.

May beetles on pecans

Nearly everyone who’s grown up in a rural or semi-rural area of Texas knows about “Junebugs”, or more correctly, June beetles. These are the heavy bodied, spindly legged beetles that flock to lights at night.  Even in my suburban home, miles from pastures or farm fields, we get June beetles and their relatives coming in waves throughout the spring, clumsily bumping against window screens, drawn by the light. It seems that “June beetle” is not a very accurate descriptor of the dozens of species of spring emerging scarab beetles that… Read More →

Bug with a punch

I ran a story about this insect 5 years ago, and thought it might be time for a refresher course. The fourlined plant bug,  Poecilocapsus lineatus, is a small, attractively colored insect that is active right now. Don’t be fooled by its pretty face.  This insect has been recorded as a pest from about 250 different plant species, both herbaceous and woody plants. Herbs, mints, and composite flowers seem to be especially favored. What makes the fourlined plant bug unique is the rather severe damage (see image) that… Read More →

Kern’s flower scarab

I’ve received several reports this week from worried gardeners concerning an attractive (yes, bugs can be pretty!) beetle feeding in flowers.  The Kern’s flower scarab, Euphoria kernii, is a medium-sized (8-11 mm-long) beetle reported to feed on pollen of a number of different species of flowers ranging from roses to irises to certain grasses.  Coloration and markings of this beetle is also variable, ranging from all black to nearly all yellow with black markings. There are several species of Euphoria found in Texas, but the one that seems to… Read More →

Tent caterpillars without the tent

Forest tent caterpillars are one of the most widespread and abundant of the tent-making caterpillars. Like their close cousins the eastern tent caterpillars, forest tent caterpillars feed primarily on trees; but unlike their cousins, and the common fall webworm, the forest tent caterpillar doesn’t make an actual tent. Instead the caterpillars aggregate between feedings on a silken mat which they spin on some area of the trunk or on large branches of the host tree. Forest tent caterpillars are relatively easy to recognize. Besides their distinctive aggregation behavior, caterpillars can be… Read More →

Cankerworm caterpillars hit Texas trees

This week I’m receiving reports about spring cankerworm infestations in counties west of the Fort Worth, Texas area. Spring cankerworms (actually caterpillars, not worms) feed on a wide range of trees, and can defoliate trees in early spring. Although cankerworms are present in low numbers every year, periodically conditions are right for widespread outbreaks.  The last time I remember this happening in the Dallas area was about 11 years ago. If the reports are correct, this might be another “year of the cankerworm”–at least in some Texas counties. And… Read More →

Borer gets a little closer

What’s shiny and Godzilla green, easily fits on a penny, and has resulted in the death of tens of millions of trees over the past dozen years? If you’ve been paying attention to this blog, you might guess the emerald ash borer (EAB).  Over the past few years my colleagues and I have been involved with a monitoring project designed to detect the first EAB entering north Texas.  During this time I’ve watched the beetles inch closer to Texas–moving from its initial point of invasion in Michigan throughout the Ohio River valley and… Read More →

Scale insect misery loves company

It’s probably true that misery loves company. For the past several years we gardeners in the Dallas area have sadly watched our beautiful crape myrtle trees succumb to a new insect pest.  The crape myrtle bark scale is a messy little critter that causes trunks to blacken and plants to drip sticky bug poop. True, it’s small consolation to know that the scale that invaded Texas has now spread to at least six other states and appears to be ready to follow crape myrtle in the U.S. wherever it is… Read More →

Kids, bee careful out there

Entomologists often walk a fine line between sounding alarmist and underplaying the importance of pest problems. Africanized honey bees and children are a good example. The potential seriousness of living with these bees was underscored yesterday when a gym class of middle schoolers disturbed a bee hive in a water controller box on a campus soccer field.  According to news accounts, 20 students were stung, and several were taken to the hospital. Presumably the bees in this case were Africanized. Coincidentally this month, BBC News magazine interviewed Texas A&M entomologist,… Read More →

Late chigger season

It’s October, I’m still scratching chigger bites.  Two weeks ago I gave a talk for Master Naturalists at the Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, and we took a 15 minute “field trip” to the flower garden around the building.  The next day I counted 30 plus bites.  Last weekend I swear I never left a sidewalk, and still felt the tell-tale itch of chigger bites. It could be just me but I’ve been getting calls from others, too, about chiggers over the past month. Chiggers are my personal least… Read More →

Hollyhock thrips found in Dallas

It’s not too often that I come across an insect that appears to not have been previously recorded in Texas. But thanks to the sharp eyes and instincts of Johnette Taylor of Roundtree Landscaping in Dallas, I’ve added a new plant pest to my “life list”. Johnette was a little suspicious when a customer reported that an Althea (rose-of-sharon) that she had planted several years ago was yellowing and losing leaves.  She noticed some small red insects covering the bark of the trunks, and took a picture with her phone. After… Read More →