Category Archives: Vegetable gardens

Kudzu bug in Texas

Last week Texas became the fourteenth state with verified populations of kudzu bug.  An alert county Extension agent, Kim Benton, reported kudzu bugs from a home garden in Rusk, TX, south of Tyler. The bugs were clustered on eggplant and other vegetables before being transplanted into the garden. The kudzu bug saga in the U.S. began in October 2009 when millions of small, pill-like bugs startled homeowners across nine counties in northeast Georgia. The never-before-seen insects covered the sides of homes by the thousands, and concerned citizens began… Read More →

Living with squash vine borer

A gardener recently asked me what she could do about squash vine borer. She then proceeded to list all the recommended treatments she had tried already, ranging from shooting the vines up (literally, with a hypodermic syringe full of Bt), to putting out yellow bowls to catch adult moths, to watching a gazillion videos on YouTube, to praying to the bird gods to eat the little buggers. To answer her question I spent time reviewing a new and old publications, including a new review of the literature on… 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 →

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 →

A berry bad pest

As if we needed more insect pests!  Now there is a new pest of berries that is spreading rapidly around the U.S.  The spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, is a native of Japan and was first discovered in California in 2008.  It has spread quickly to berry growing areas on the west and east coasts, as well as Canada, Michigan and the northeast.  It showed up in Colorado last year, and the first specimen in Texas was found by a faculty member in the entomology department at Texas… Read More →

Honey bees at center of controversy

What could present a more peaceful, bucolic image than the scene of beekeepers tending their bee hives? Beekeepers are traditionally seen as the gentlest of agriculturalists, not killing for food but merely reaping the labor of an industrious insect in exchange for nurture and protection.  Yet there is little peaceful about the verbal and political battle swirling about beekeepers and honey bees at the moment. You may have seen the headlines in recent years proclaiming the doom of the honey bee.  The domestic bee industry in the U.S…. Read More →

A better way to enhance natural pest control

Today I received a call from a Master Gardener who wanted to advise a local organic garden on the best beneficial insects to release to control pests. My answer surprised her a little.  I generally recommend against gardeners releasing beneficial insects. It’s not that I am opposed to biological control, or don’t believe in the value of predatory and parasitic insects.  I know that releasing insects to control other insects is a time-honored, and historically successful, approach to pest control.  The annals are full of stories of highly successful programs… 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 →

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 →

Just the fly for your pumpkin patch

Master Gardener and Entomology Specialist, Donya Camp, took this picture the other day.  It occurred to me that it would make the perfect “interesting insect”  to feature today, not only because of it’s holiday colors, but also because of it’s importance to the pumpkin and squash patch. Trichopoda pennipes may be one of the prettiest flies in the family Tachinidae.  Any fly enthusiast will tell you that tachinid flies are best known for their highly useful skills at stalking and attacking pests.  Trichopoda pennipes lays  its eggs on… Read More →