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Farm Fueled Friday 6/1: Good Bug/Bad Bug

It’s Friday!  We have reached June, and it has been a hot week.  Santa Rosa County has reached a high of at least 90 degrees every day this week.  We have had some rain at the end of the week to help our farmers irrigate their crops.  Even in the hot temperatures our great farmers of Santa Rosa County trek out to the fields ever day to provide fresh local food for you and your family.

With our warm temperatures and adequate moisture levels, the insect populations continue to increase.  I have gotten several calls relating to insects and whether or not to spray insecticides.  Well that is a loaded question that should be answered with IPM.  IPM (Integrated Pest Management) is the smart approach to pest management.  With IPM you use various techniques to help control or suppress insect damage to your cash crop.  The first step is to set action thresholds.  This is the point where the insect population has gotten so large and the damage has become too detrimental that some action is required.  The action could be cultural, biological, chemical, or mechanical in nature.  A cultural control would be, for example in a nursery setting to space your plant apart so that there is adequate air movement in the plant canopy.  Biological control is using living organisms to help maintain pest populations.  Mechanical control is something that every home gardener has practiced before when they hand pick insects off plants.  Chemical control is the final option to be used if the pest population has reached over your action threshold and there is not any other control that can be used.

Another important aspect of IPM is insect identification.  So this section of Farm Fueled Friday is called Good Bug/Bad Bug.  Before we can determine our action we must know who the good guys and the bad guys are.  Today we will go over a few different Tomato and Pepper pests and beneficial.

First is the Leaffooted bug.  This bug is ¾ inch long and brown with a white band across its back.  It will feed on both the foliage and the fruit and can cause wilting and death to the plant.

Adult Leaffooted Bug

Nymph Leaffooted Bug

Another Bad Bug is the Tomato pinworm.  The adults are light brown/grayish moths that are about a ¼ inch in length.  The newly hatched larvae have brown heads and yellow/gray bodies.  The larvae enter the leaves and form mines and also enter the fruit leaving a small pin hole of entry.  Once in the fruit they feed beneath the skin and cause blotches.

Adult Tomato Pinworm Moth

Tomato Pinworm

Tomato Pinworm Damage

For our Good Bugs, let’s take a look at Lady Beetles or Lady Bugs. Many people are familiar with Lady Beetles but not as many are familiar with larvae of this beneficial insect.  The Larvae tend to be flattened and elongated, dark with bright spots or bands.  Some are covered with a waxy secretion that makes it resemble mealybugs.  If you see these guys roaming on your vegetables it is a good thing and they are most likely feeding on mites, whiteflies, scale, mealybugs, aphids, or insect eggs.

Lady Beetle Adult

Lady Beetle Larvae

Lady Beetle Larvae with waxy coating

There are many more Good Bugs and Bad Bugs we could discuss but we will save those for later.  If you have to have more now, check out some beneficial insects here and here.  Also here are some harmful insects here.  If you are not sure if you have an insect problem on your farm or landscape call your local extension agent and get help identifying before you make an action decision.  I hope you have a great Farm Fueled Friday! 

Permanent link to this article: http://santarosa.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2012/06/01/farm-fueled-friday-61/