Tackling Summer Pests: What to Look For

Pest Control

Pest prevention and eradication is easier when you know what to expect and how to identify insect damage. Get familiar with Florida’s common summer landscape pests and know how to spot them. Then you can correctly identify problems and apply appropriate controls.

Humans aren’t the only ones who become more active in the summertime. Unfortunately for Floridians, insects love the Sunshine State’s balmy climate, so much so that they appear early in the spring and hang around long after summer ends. Pest prevention and eradication is successful when you know what to expect and how to identify common summer pests.

Warm-Weather Pests

These common pests may show up around your landscaping. Knowing which insects are drawn to which types of plants will help you identify the culprits of landscape damage.

  • Aphids can be spotted on new plant growth
  • Chinch bugs damage St. Augustinegrass
  • Mole crickets inhabit bahiagrass
  • Oleander caterpillars chew leaves on the oleander shrub
  • Thrips, scales, and mites damage foliage and flowers on ornamental plants

How to Spot Summer Pests

Aphids

These small insects are pear-shaped, pale green, and can be found on new growth and leaf undersides. If you spot distorted new growth, yellowing and dropping leaves, ants, or black sooty mold, you may have an infestation on your hands.

Chinch Bugs and Mole Crickets

These pests damage turfgrass. Bare patches, small soil mounds, and dried grass are signs of mole crickets, as they feed on roots and blades and tunnel just below the surface. If chinch bugs are the problem, patches of grass will turn yellow and then reddish before dying. These patches of dead grass expand as the bugs move through the area. 

Oleander Caterpillars

As the name suggests, this caterpillar affects the oleander shrub. If you notice new growth turning light brown, check for larvae on the underside of the leaves. Oleander caterpillars are bright orange with black hair.

Thrips, Scales, and Mites

These insects are so small that their damage is what usually identifies them.

  • Signs of mite presence include patches of specks on leaves (called stippling), yellowing and dying foliage, and delicate webbing around the leaves.
  • Symptoms of thrips include discolored flowers and leaves, dried and scarred foliage, distorted and stunted growth, flower buds failing to open, and loss of foliage.
  • Scale damage causes leaves to yellow, wither, and drop; hinders new growth; and can cause black sooty mold to form on the plants.

Before You Treat for Pests

When addressing plant damage, be sure of the problem source before treating it. Applying the wrong pest control or targeting pests when the issue is something else will waste your time and money. The actual problem may not be resolved, and a pesticide may harm beneficial insects, plants, and groundwater.

If you notice yellowing leaves on shrubs and ornamental plants, test your soil and look for nutrient deficiencies. Got brown spots in your lawn? Make sure to water sufficiently and correctly. Once you have eliminated other issues with the growing conditions, or if the damage clearly points to a pest infestation, move on to identifying the pest and choose an appropriate control method.

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