The tune “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, watcha gonna do?” could easily be replaced with “Bad Bugs, Bad Bugs watcha gonna do?” in our area. We seem to have insects of Biblical proportion at certain times and especially late spring, summer. These insects for the most part do damage to our plants, pets, people and palaces. More often than not, completely eliminating them is not an option, but we can control them or keep them from doing expensive and excessive damage. Here are a few of the infamous insects!
- Carpenter bees – Also known as a living drill, they bore holes into unprotected lumber in barns and homes. Their holes can sometimes be 1/2 inch in diameter and 10 feet long. They are often confused with bumblebees. Carpenter bees have a fuzzy yellow thorax (middle) and shiny black abdomen (end). Bumblebees have yellow hairs on both the thorax and abdomen. Borate-treated material will control the boring bug.
- Fire Ants – Also known as wingless wasp, they cause havoc in nearly every neighborhood. They sting (not bite) pets, people and even young wildlife. Their mounds can also wreak havoc on ground machinery (and their operators). On the plus side, fire ants do control other insect pests like fleas, weevils and tip moth. Eliminating them is as unlikely as eliminating mosquitoes or cockroaches. There are a wide variety of baits, granules and powders to use. The best method is to use bait directly to a mound and then 14 days later broadcast growth regulator bait.
- Fleas – These are a problem year-round in the South. They feed on almost any warm-blooded animal. Unfortunately, they can also survive weeks and months without a source of food. Flea control can be difficult. Usually 2-3 applications are required to control them in specific areas.
- Mole crickets – They cause serious injury in lawns during the summer and early fall. However, the best time to manage them is March-May. These burrowing insects cut the roots of lawn grasses and cause the lawn and soil to dry out. Using ground insect control materials helps to limit their destruction.
- Stinging Caterpillars – We have four varieties in Louisiana that should be avoided. The saddleback caterpillars, IO moth, puss moth and buck moth caterpillars can cause some serious burning and itching pain. Although they are a nuisance, the buck moths are the only ones usually controlled because of their large numbers.
- Termites – They’re everywhere! Our concern is when they begin to damage our structures. Three types include:
- Drywood termites- Needing no moisture to survive.
Subterranean termites – Found in wood and soil and need moisture to survive. This is the most common termite we have.
Formosan subterranean termites – These cause havoc in homes and even trees. They are more aggressive than their common cousin.
All are best managed by professionals.
This is just a sample of many of our bad bugs. Quite a few more can be found at the LSU AgCenter Web site. Visit "Bug Biz" to learn about identifying and managing these bad boys of the insect kind.