Lawn and Garden Pests

SPREAD THE WORD…Save OUR beneficials and pollinators



The large bumblebee kill event that recently occurred in Oregon indicates a need to remind users of pesticides about the absolute importance of reading and following the label – and to pay particular attention to WARNINGS.

With agricultural production in full swing all across the country, USDA requests your assistance through outreach and education to remind all users of pesticides of the importance of following the label. This helps to ensure good pest management while protecting wildlife, their habitat, and the environment. It is especially important that urban gardeners and homeowners, who may not be as familiar with the content of the label, have access to this important information.

Use of any pesticide in any way that is not consistent with label directions and precautions is illegal. It may also be ineffective and dangerous.

What to communicate to your community:

  • Choose the form of pesticide best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control:First, identify the problem correctly and then, choose the least-toxic pesticide that will achieve the results you want and be the least toxic to you and the environment.
  • When the words “broad-spectrum” appear on the label, this means the product is effective against a broad range of pests. If the label says “selective,” the product is effective against one or a few pests.
  • Read the label before buying the pesticide, read the label before mixing or using the pesticide each time, and read the label before storing or disposing of the pesticide.
  • Determining the right amount to purchase and use: do not assume that using more pesticide than the label recommends will do a better job . It won’t.
  • Find the signal word—either Danger, Warning, or Caution on the pesticide label. The signal word tells you how poisonous the product is to humans.
  • Choose the form of pesticide (aerosol, dust, bait, or other) best suited to your target site and the pest you want to control. Certain formulations work better for some pests and/or some target areas than others
  • Using the product safely and correctly
  • Never apply pesticides outdoors on a windy day (winds higher than 10 mph)
  • Wear protective clothing, don’t smoke or eat
  • Mix and apply only the amount you need
  • Watch for negative effects on wildlife (birds, butterflies, and bees) in and near treated areas. If you see any unusual behavior, stop using that pesticide, and contact EPA’s Pesticide Incident Response Officer
  • Store and dispose of pesticides properly.
  • Follow all storage instructions on the pesticide label.
  • Always store pesticides in their original containers, complete with labels that list ingredients, directions for use, and first aid steps in case of accidental poisoning.

**State and local laws regarding pesticide disposal may be stricter than the federal requirements on the label. Be sure to check with your state or local solid waste agency before disposing of your pesticide containers.



Breaking news: 50,000 Bumblebees DEAD

Image“largest documented die-off of bumblebees”

As the estimate of dead bees rose to 50,000, the Oregon Department of Agriculture confirmed the insecticide Safari caused the deaths in a Wilsonville earlier this week. A landscaping company sprayed 55 linden trees in a Target parking lot to control for aphids.

Safari’s main ingredient is dinotefuran, a neonicotinoid.

News Story here:

Photo essay here:

“Because neonicotinoids are long-lasting in plant tissues and can be found in flower nectar and pollen, and because they have been implicated in the global decline of honey bees, there have been growing concerns about their safety for pollinators.”

more here:

New product alert! Dupont Prevathon® for grasshopper control

Dupont has a new product available for grasshopper control

Prevathon® insect control helps protect the yield and quality of animal feed and crops by achieving reliable and consistent control of grasshopper nymphs and many worm pests. Prevathon® is highly potent and efficacious and yet at the same time has a favorable mammalian (such as livestock and wildlife) toxicological profile.

Learn more here:

Grasshopper management


With more than 100 species of grasshopper in Kansas, it is good to know that only a handful are considered to be true pests.  Of the pests, the differential grasshopper (Melanoplus differentialis) (bottom) and the two-striped grasshopper (Melanoplus bivittatus) (top) can be a couple of the most commonly encountered problems.  Both of these grasshoppers emerge from overwintered eggs in early spring and adults are active from early summer until the first frost.  This long window of activity combined with these grasshoppers’ highly varied food preferences makes them a problem for home gardens, crops, and even rangeland.  Grasshoppers can be heavy weed-feeders and tend to move into fields from weedy field edges as that particular food supply diminishes.  Treating field borders early in the season when the hoppers are still young can help provide control for later in the season.  In the home garden, maintaining a weed free garden space can help eliminate favorable oviposition sites and thus eliminate or reduce the number of nymphal grasshoppers emerging in the spring.  Control of hoppers in rangeland can be a bit trickier given the large area.  Focusing treatment (if needed) on untilled border areas, weedy ditches and fence rows can help to control the insects where they would typically be emerging.

For more information of specific control options click below

For garden control

For pasture control,%202013.pdf

For field crop control

Ants are on the wing!

ImageAlate queen carpenter ant Camponotus pennsylvanicus. (photograph © Alex Wild 2005)

 In the last two weeks a couple of ant species have been found flying in the region, including carpenter ants and the native fire ants.  The appearance of flying ants during the summer is normal.  Mature ant colonies regularly produce winged males and females in order to disperse to new areas.  Large numbers of ants may take to the air during the summer when conditions are favorable; usually following periods of rain.  Mating takes place in flight and once a female has been fertilized she will shed her wings and attempt to found a new colony.  The male ants die soon after mating.  Most ant species in our region are small and the mating flights can easily go unobserved.  However, some of the larger species such as carpenter ants and harvester ants are typically noticed.  Harvester ants can form especially dramatic mating swarms since they have the tendency to “hilltop”, meaning that they aggregate on prominent features of the landscape (trees, buildings, statues).  Mating swarms of ants are not typically a hazard to people and the presence of winged ants around homes does not necessarily indicate an infestation.

More information:

Blister beetle troubles

ImageBlister beetles can sometimes occur in large numbers in and around crop fields. They are attracted to blooming weeds, garden plants and crops (including alfalfa and soybean).

Blister beetles are a common feature of summertime in the region and can be both a crop pest and a home garden pest. Recently, reports have come in from several counties in SC and SW Kansas where these are being encountered in gardens and alfalfa fields.

Blister beetles are relatively large beetles (.5-1 inches) with long, sometimes brightly colored abdomens.  There are over 100 species in the region but only a few are commonly encountered.  These beetles are appropriately named; cantharidin, a substance found within the blister beetle, can cause painful blistering on exposed skin if someone is to accidentally crush or harass the beetle.   This same substance can even be deadly to cattle, especially horses, if the animals are to eat the beetles while feeding on hay.  Different species of blister beetles have differing levels of this cantharidin. Male beetles produce this toxic chemical and will transfer it to the female after mating.

Adult beetles in the garden feed on a wide variety of foliage and flowers; large numbers can easily defoliate small garden plants. Interestingly, blister beetle larvae can be beneficial in that they feed on the eggs of grasshoppers (another summertime garden nuisance).  While the adult beetles can sometimes be found on or in the home, they pose no structural hazard.  For the reason mentioned above, care should be taken when removing them from or off of the home.  There are a variety of chemical control methods for blister beetles if their numbers become a problem in the garden, however these beetles are very mobile and new individuals easily find the garden.  On the positive side, their larger size makes them easily detected in the garden; many gardeners employ simpler methods of blister beetle control, such as hand vacuuming large numbers off of plants or knocking individuals into a bucket of soapy water. 

To reduce blister beetle numbers in alfalfa fields, cut the alfalfa before it enters bloom stage and maintain a weed free field. The first cutting will general not have blister beetles, but caution should still be exercised when feeding this to horses. Treating infested alfalfa fields with a blister beetle labeled insecticide will kill the beetles, however the dead beetles left in the field are still toxic!

ImageA Margined blister beetle (Epicauta funebris), one of the more commonly encountered blister beetles.

More information on blister beetles can be found here:

Cabbage flea beetle

Summer is upon us and so is the gardening season. While the typical variety of brassicas (cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, etc.) may already be gone from the garden, there are a few possibilities for the adventurous home gardener. Some folks still may have a patch of arugula hanging on in this heat, or maybe you decided to let those radishes sit in the ground until fall. Perhaps there are some southern gardeners transplanted into southwest Kansas that just have to have collard greens growing throughout summer. Well, if that’s the case, you should definitely be on the lookout for one of the most common garden pests, the flea beetle. And not just any flea beetle, the cabbage flea beetle, Phyllotreta albionica.


 Cabbage flea beetles infesting radish leaves.

Flea beetles can be differentiated by other tiny beetles inhabiting the garden by their large hind legs and habit of jumping around like fleas when disturbed. There are many flea beetle species that can be garden pests. The cabbage flea beetle can be differentiated from most other species by its food preference. Cabbage flea beetles love to feed on any brassica (cabbage, radishes, mustard greens, etc.). Furthermore, the cabbage flea beetle is shiny, metallic bronze while a similar brassica feeding flea beetle, Phyllotreta cruciferae, is shiny, metallic blue. The other species you may encounter in the garden feed on anything in the tomato family, including potatoes, eggplant and, of course, tomatoes.

Generally, flea beetles can become a problem in the spring on young plants. Adult beetles overwinter in soil among plants and emerge in the spring to lay eggs and feed on their preferred hosts; usually, healthy plants can outgrow flea beetle damage. Gardeners’ tendency to transplant larger starts aids in fighting off springtime feeding damage. However, as weather warms up, an unchecked population of flea beetles can easily grow out of control. This was the case for me a week ago during the 105 degree-plus weather. Despite the heat, I have (or should I say had) two different species of leafy brassica in my garden, arugula and Japanese mizuna. Both were tolerating the heat well with regular watering. I also have a small, 6 foot row of edible-pod radishes. These particular radishes do not form a tuber; rather they flower during the warm weather and produce edible, bean-like pods. I had detected flea beetles on these radishes multiple times, but the plants seemed to be growing fine and tolerating a bit of leaf damage. I had used some Neem Oil a few times to try to discourage their activity on the plants. After the hot weather and blowing wind was subsiding for the week I went out to inspect my garden and was awestruck at the amount of flea beetles present.


Typical “shotgun” damage to leaves fed on by flea beetles.

In only a few days, the assumed benign presence of cabbage flea beetles had become an overwhelming infestation. The small patch of arugula was completely decimated, all of the mizuna as well. The radish plants, being larger, were not yet totally destroyed, but I imagine they would have been after one more day of feeding.


A huge number of flea beetles could be seen infesting most of the plants’ large leaves.

There are several chemicals listed for control of flea beetles, in this case I used an application of carbaryl. But remember, if chemical control of flea beetles in the garden becomes necessary carefully read and follow all label directions and make sure that any flea beetle insecticides being used are registered for use on the crop and its growth stage.


After spraying the garden, thousands of flea beetles were seen exiting the plants.

For the time being, the flea beetle activity has disappeared. However, flea beetle re-infestation can happen quickly. They are very mobile pests and there are multiple generations a year. I suspect my fight is not over. Aside from having preferred host plants present in my garden during peak flea beetle activity, one other factor may have contributed to my overwhelming infestation. This is a new garden spot; I simply broke up the sod and installed the garden. This particular area had abundant blue mustard (Chorispora tenella) growing as a weed during the spring. It is possible that this large area of blue mustard (a brassica!) was sustaining a healthy population of flea beetles and acting as an overwintering site. This information brings up a few great non-chemical control methods for controlling flea beetle (and other pest) populations. First, keep a sanitary garden; remove all host plant material at the end of the season to eliminate overwintering sites. This goes hand in hand with crop rotation as well. I certainly will not be planting those radishes, mizuna, or arugula in the same spot next year. Secondly, weed control in the garden can help prevent a lot of future headaches! Finally, planning proper planting and harvest times can help the plants avoid peak pest activity. But I want my collard greens and radishes!