Florida’s Garden and Lawn Insects -The good and the bad – Part 3

The Good and the Bad Part 2-The Bad Bugs in Your Garden-min
The Good and the Bad Part 2—The Bad Bugs in Your Garden
May 20, 2019
Cactus Gardening in Florida
Cactus Gardening in Florida
June 6, 2019

Insects, like people and most animals, prefer to live in areas appropriate to their likes and dislikes. Adaptation is an important part of the insect world. This being said, it is understandable that some insects prefer Florida, its warm and humid climate and the type of vegetation that grows there. There are approximately 687 insects identified who enjoy a Florida lifestyle. Here follows an overview of a few of the most popular and well-known insects you might find in a Florida garden and lawn.

First the “good”: Bees, butterflies, wasps (these can be pests as well as helpers, depending on the species), ladybugs, and dragonflies. These insects are important for pollination as well as helping eliminate damaging insects such as aphids. When planning a garden, it is wise to plan to attract some of the helpful insects by planting plants they will use for food or, as in the case of butterflies, use to lay their eggs on. Often a type of weed is needed to encourage helpful insects, but as with any plant you can control their growth to a specific area. Florida plants that will attract “good” insects include Dill, Milkweed, Basil, Cilantro, Marigolds, Blanket Flower, and Nasturtium.

Next, and unfortunately, the largest of the garden insect population is the “bad” insects. Most of the garden insect pests do some type of damage as discussed earlier in this series. A few of the most common insects’ gardeners must contend with in Florida include:

  • Lawns and Turf: cinch bug, cutworm, hunting billbugs, grasshoppers, fall armyworms, mole crickets, white grubs, ground pearls, grass loppers, and tropical soil webworms
  • Flower Pest Insects: bayberry whitefly, Japanese beetle, Spanish moth, tobacco budworm, cabbage lopper, Southern armyworm, melon thrips, tarnished plant bug, sweet potato whitefly, long-tailed mealybug, and aphids
  • Fruit, Nut, and Vegetable Pest Insects: fruit flies, stink bugs, leafhoppers, to name just a few. There are many, many more, too many to name here.

Sometimes it seems there are so many insects to consider when gardening it is hardly worth the effort to have a garden. In most cases, however, you can get information from your local nursery or lawn and garden professional. Another idea if you have time to investigate is to go online and look at the University of Florida IFAS Extension information edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_lawn_insects_pests. You can put in flowers, vegetables, fruits, trees, etc. after “topic.”  There is a wealth of information on species, whether they are harmful or helpful, and ways to manage them.

Each insect has its characteristics, its form of destroying the host plant, and the most effective way to be eliminated. There are chemical and natural ways to control harmful insects. And, while natural methods are best, it is sometimes necessary to use chemicals. Once the harmful insects are eliminated it is essential to keep a close watch as they often return. The sooner you take control, the easier it is to rid your plants of insect infestation. Again, check with your local lawn and garden professionals as to the pest pesticide, natural or chemical to use to handle the insect problems that arise in your garden and grass.