Category Archives: Entomology

Monarch Butterflies

Monarch Butterflies by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener. Monarch Butterflies reach our area in early to mid spring.  Surprisingly some of these butterflies overwintered in the Mariposa Monarca Biosphere in Mexico. Some of the later spring migration that you witness may be the offspring of earlier ones that migrated from Mexico and reproduced along the way.  There are several other mass migrations of Monarchs, some of which are the ones west of the Rockies and others that overwinter in Florida.  The ones that we see and are interested in… Read More →

Fire Ants

Fire Ants by Byron Chitwood, Master Gardener. It’s that time of the year when you begin to notice that you have fire ants in your yard or pasture. Actually, they have been there all through the winter. They just set up housekeeping deeper underground to avoid the cold. Now that the temperature has warmed up, they have moved closer to the surface of the ground, especially after a rain. As the water level rises after a rain, fire ants will build a fluffy mound above the surface of… Read More →

Monarchs: From Miracle to Disaster

Controlling Grasshoppers

Controlling Grasshoppers by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. Grasshoppers are once again so prevalent this year that they seem to be taking over the landscape.  They are more prevalent in dry years because in wet years spring rains drown eggs and nymphs (baby grasshoppers).  Since we have had very little rain, however, most of the grasshoppers have survived to cause us problems. The best product to kill grasshoppers on a long term basis is NOLO bait.  It contains a protozoan (Nosema locustae) that infests the grasshoppers.  It kills the… Read More →

Spider Mites

Spider Mites by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. Spider mites are common pest problems, especially for indoor plants.  They suck out the sap from leaves and leave behind bruises and other problems.  This may make the leaves become discolored or even drop prematurely.  If enough leaves drop, the plant dies. Regular insecticides will not kill spider mites.  They are arachnids, not insects.  You must use a special chemical called a miticide to kill them.  First, though, you need to understand their life history to know what you are up… Read More →

Squash Bugs

Squash Bugs by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. Squash bugs are some of the most frustrating pests in the home garden.  They feast on a wide array of plants in the curcubit family and can do some pretty serious damage to them.  They pierce the plants and suck out the sap, causing the plants to wilt or even die.  They are also hard to kill.  They can be controlled, though, with a little effort. To control squash bugs, it helps to understand their life cycle.  Adult squash bugs are… Read More →

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers by Charles Bohmfalk Grasshoppers are among the most widespread and damaging pests in Texas. There are about 150 species of grasshoppers in the state, but 90 percent of the damage to crops, gardens, trees and shrubs is caused by just five species. Grasshoppers cause some damage every year, but they become very destructive during outbreaks. The main factor affecting grasshopper populations is weather. Outbreaks, or exceptionally large populations, are usually preceded by several years of hot, dry summers and warm autumns. Dry weather increases the survival of nymphs… Read More →

Fighting Fire Ants

Fighting Fire Ants by Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. Fire ants have to be one of the most obnoxious insects in the United States.  Almost everyone who spends any time outside in our area has been stung by them.  They take over gardens, eat okra, blight lawns, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.  The most asked question for Master Gardeners has to be, “How do we get rid of fire ants?”  The answer is the Texas Two Step method of fire ant eradication. The first step is to… Read More →

The Bane of Bag Worms

The Bane of Bag Worms by Pat Newell Although bag worms are not abundant every year, once a plant is infested it can become a persistent problem. If an infestation is left unchecked they can defoliate and kill trees and shrubs.        I learned an important lesson while researching this information. As an example of using individual’s sites for research, my initial search said that bagworms turn into web worms. When I went to several University Extension sites that turned out not to be true. Bagworms and webworms… Read More →

Squash Bugs

If you have cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, or melons, you have likely encountered squash bugs on your plants.  These flat, large insects are about 5/8 inch long and 1/3 inch wide.  They are usually dark brown to dark gray and have a diamond shaped shield on their shoulders.  Their abdomens protrude and are typically orange and brown striped. The eggs of the squash bug are oval, small, and yellowish to bronze.  The nymphs, or babies, go through five stages of growth, or instars, and are green when born.  They… Read More →