Bugs Bugs Bugs: September 2006

Dale K. Pollet  |  9/7/2006 1:10:37 AM

Figure 1. Love bugs and your car.

Figure 2. Sugarcane beetle feeding on sugarcane.

Figure 3. Hibiscus midge adult and larvae.

Figure 6. Cigarettee and drugstore beetles.

Figure 7. Two-spotted and European red mites.

Figure 8. Three spiders found around homes this time of year.

Figure 4. Mole cricket.

Figure 9. White fringed beetle.

Figure 5. Citrus leaf miner larva and injury.


We are seeing a decline in some insect populations but some explosions in others. Here are some potential problems this month.

1. Love bugs – We were fortunate this spring with the dry weather not to have a love bug population. With the rains the last couple of months we are seeing the fall population begin to develop. Several areas are having heavy populations swarming the roads and fields. These heavy populations can be a problem for drivers, causing visibility problems, potential vehicle overheating and damage to the paint finish of cars and trucks. It is important to keep your water reservoir full with a good cleaner and wash your windows often to maintain good visibility while driving. After driving through heavy populations, flush off the radiator to remove as many of the love bugs as possible to reduce the potential for overheating. To remove the dried bodies from the paint, wet them and then coat them with liquid soap, let it sit a few minutes and then rub off using a wet soft cloth. One can also use a wet fabric softener cloth and after wetting the mashed bodies gentle rub the surface to remove the dead insects. This will help to reduce any damage to the paint on the vehicle.

2. Sugarcane beetles – Several reports have come in about heavy populations of these beetles digging out grout from windows and boring through pressed board made from bagasse. Gas stations and quick-stop markets have reported large populations collecting around the lights and doorways and flying around the lights in buildings. These beetles are normally a problem for the germinating corn and sprouting sugarcane. These beetles have strong front legs used for digging and shredding the growing corn or sugarcane plants and eating the hearts of the plant, killing the corn plants or the sprouts of sugarcane. The larvae are organic feeders and feed on decomposing plant material. Populations are very sporadic and hard to manage. The adults can be treated with Sevin.

3. Hibiscus midge – This small fly pest is showing up in St. Tammany, Plaquemine, Jefferson and Orleans parishes. The eggs are deposited in the buds, and the developing larvae cause the buds to die and fall off the plants. The larva then digs into the soil to pupate. The control for this pest is threefold: first, all the buds need to be removed from the plants in the area, then the plants are sprayed with Orthene and the soil around the plants are treated with Talstar. This program helps to control all stages and breaks the pest’s cycle. Buds should probably be removed for 2 weeks to manage the pest.

4. Mole crickets – These turf pests are moving to the surface to feed and build body fat for over wintering. Their tunneling and damage to the turf is readily observed. Lush athletic fields preparing for football and soccer are prime targets for populations. Damaged turf makes it difficult for players to cut and turn quickly as the turf pulls out and gives way. This is potentially a problem for the athletes on the field and can lead to ankle and leg injuries. The best management program is to treat the fields where these pests exist with Top Choice. This material can be applied to the fields and watered in, and play can resume on the field within days. Although there is no time restriction between treatment and play, it is best to give the application time to kill the crickets and yourself time to remove the dead crickets from the field to remove the stench so you can play on the field. Crickets can be raked up or vacuumed to remove them. Where populations are moderate, birds and other predators will help to remove them. This material is very effective and will also help to remove fire ants from the field as well. It is important to treat the entire field, including the sidelines and other turf areas adjoining the field, to ensure an effective management program. The rate (87 pounds/acre) of this material appears high, but only a small amount of active ingredient is actually applied. The high rate is so that the applicator can evenly spread the material over the area to be treated.

5. Citrus leaf miner – These small moths lay their eggs on new flushes of growth on citrus trees. The larvae mine the new foliage, causing it to crinkle and twist. The larva at maturity pupates in the curled edge of the damaged leaf. The best management of this little pest is to spray each new flush of growth with the material Spinosad. It is made by Green Light and is sold in many local nursery and garden centers.

6. Drugstore and cigarette beetles – These little beetles are a pest of dry food products. Dry dog and cat foods are prime sources of infestation, but these pests infest a multitude of dry products, spices and cigarettes. Removal of infested material is the initial means of management. Once the source is removed, the area should be treated with a pyrethroid, and once dry, food products can be replaced. Be sure to check expiration dates on products. The closer the product is to expiration the more possibility of bringing home an infestation.

7. Spider mites – With the dry weather the last couple of weeks, spider mites are quickly building up in gardens, ornamentals and citrus. These small piercing sucking pests can be easily managed using ultra fine oil or a combination of this oil with a miticide like Kelthane, Avid Floramite or Agri-mite, depending on what you are treating. The ultra fine oil will work on all plant material.

8. Spiders – A wide variety of spiders are being found around homes and work places. These spiders are being drawn out of their normal feeding areas as the insect populations begin to decline in the fields and woods. They are attracted to light, which attract many small flying insects. The spiders build their webs in open areas between trees, porches and houses, houses and trees or other locations that act as passageways for flying insects. Many of these are fun to watch and are not aggressive and will catch and eat many insects. Many of them are large and brightly colored, and some are small and ornate. If caught in the hands they will bite but usually cause only a small red area like a mosquito bite. The only two spiders which are poisonous are the black widow and the brown recluse. Where spiders are a problem and their removal is desired, they can be sprayed with a material called Suspend. It is very effective on spiders and other household pests.

9. Town ants -- Amdro Ant Block, which is available for use in home areas for town ant control, has a revised label so that it may be used on forested areas and other non-crop lands as listed on the label.

10. White fringe beetles – Large populations of this insect have been found in several areas. The adults feed on 50 different kinds of plants from herbaceous weeds and crops to trees and vines. The adults do little damage; most of the damage is done by the larva which feeds on the roots of many plants, including peanuts, corn, sugarcane, cotton, peas, cabbage, sweet potatoes, chufa and others. Control of the larva is difficult, and management is directed at the adults. They can be controlled in the home setting with pyrethroids like cyfluthrin and others.

Until next month,


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