Even though we have been
experiencing high temperatures, fire
ants are unfortunately still in the
area. They can live deep
within the soil so their mounds may
not always be visible. Since
they are a medically important
insect pest, control measures should
be taken in some cases to decrease
Before treating for fire ants, one
must first survey the area to
determine the number of mounds, if
possible. If less than 5
mounds are present in a quarter acre
plot, then it is advised to treat
the individual mounds. Treating
individual mounds is the fastest way
to get rid of the fire ant mounds,
but it is more labor intensive and
more costly to apply when compared
to the broadcast baits.
If more than 5 mounds are present,
then treatment should be broadcasted
over the entire area. A fire
ant bait or contact insecticide may
be used. Fire ant baits are
made up of defatted corn grit
covered with insecticide and soybean
oil. Before broadcasting the
fire ant bait, foraging activity
should be evaluated. In order
to test for foraging activity, place
a potato chip or hot dog next to the
mound. If fire ants find the
chip or hot dog within fifteen
minutes, then it is an appropriate
time to broadcast the fire ant bait.
Fire ants will typically actively
forage when the soil surface
temperature is between 70 and 90° F.
The delivery process of fire ant
baits into the colony is so
effective, that the amount of
insecticide applied in an area is
significantly reduced. Fire
ant baits should never be watered
into the soil and they should not be
used if they smell rancid.
Contact insecticides can also be
broadcasted over the entire area and
these need to be watered into the
soil. One contact insecticide
containing fipronil can be used for
fire ant control and will usually
provide 9 to 12 months control.
Both fire ant baits and contact
insecticides can be broadcast using
a hand-held spreader for small areas
or a Herd Seeder can be mounted onto
a truck or ATV for larger areas.
Before applying any type of
pesticide, always be sure to read
and follow the pesticide label.
Also, never use harmful toxins, such
as gasoline to control fire ants.
These products are illegal and
dangerous. In addition, never
leave insecticide baits on streets
or walkways after application, in
order to avoid unnecessary entrance
into the water supply.
For more information, please
visit the fire ant webpage at
Red imported fire ant
worker. Photo by Dr. Bart
Professor and Extension
As we walk outdoors in late
summer, we might be overwhelmed by
the number of grasshoppers. This is
usually due to warm, dry autumns and
then hot, dry summers, which favor
grasshopper survival and
develop through simple metamorphosis
with an egg, nymph and adult stage.
The female grasshopper uses its long
ovipositor to deposit eggs ½ to 2
inches into the soil in the fall.
They will deposit eggs in such areas
as weedy places, fence rows, and
ditches. The eggs hatch into nymphs
in the spring or early summer,
depending upon species. The
nymphal stage lasts for around 6
weeks before molting into an adult
with fully developed wings.
The adult grasshoppers will be found
until late fall or until a frost
Grasshoppers feed mainly on
weeds. However when the weeds
begin to dry, the grasshoppers will
go into other areas in search of
food. This search may lead
them to the plants in your
Some Control Options:
- Controlling weeds will
decrease the number of
grasshoppers in an area.
If weeds are eliminated, nymphs
will starve and adults will be
discouraged from laying eggs in
- Also tilling the soil in the
late summer will discourage
female grasshoppers from
depositing eggs, since they like
to lay eggs in undisturbed soil.
- Floating row covers can be
used to protect such areas as
vegetable and flower gardens,
and small fruit trees from
grasshoppers. The fabric
allows sunlight through, while
protecting plants from insects
and cold weather.
Monitor grasshopper infestations
and treat when grasshoppers are in
the nymphal stage. The immature
grasshoppers are more susceptible to
insecticides. Some effective
insecticides include the active
cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, acephate and
permethrin. Also baits
can be applied such as those
Insecticides typically do not
persist in the environment more than
a few days. This means
grasshoppers may soon re-invade.
grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis
(Orthoptera: Acrididae). Photo by Dr.
Bart Drees, Professor
and Extension Entomologist, Texas A&M
As we walk outside in the evening, a new
sound might greet us. This new
sound will be the male cricket’s mating
song, which is a high-pitched sound
produced by the male cricket rubbing his
front wings together to attract a
Crickets develop through simple
metamorphosis, with an egg, nymph and
adult stage. The female cricket
will deposit eggs into the soil.
The eggs hatch into nymphs, which gain
wings every time they molt. Adult field
crickets are ½ to 1 ¼ inches in length,
black in color, and have a stout body.
Several generations of crickets are
produced every year.
Crickets feed on all organic matter,
including decaying plant material and
fungi. Since crickets breakdown plant
materials, they are considered
beneficial by renewing soil minerals.
They are also a food source for many
animals such as spiders, ground beetles,
birds, lizards and small rodents.
Crickets are normally an outdoor insect,
usually found under rocks, logs or any
crack or crevice. However, they
can sometimes enter our homes through
such areas as doors and windows.
In addition, their song can become an
irritant to homeowners, since they live
next to structures.
Some Control Options:
- Caulk or seal cracks and gaps
that are found in the foundation,
around doors, windows, and garage
- Trim weeds and tall grass
growing near the foundation.
- Remove firewood, brush, rotting
wood, boxes, bricks, stones and
other objects from around the
structure, in order to reduce the
number of harborage areas.
- For crickets found inside the
home, vacuum or sweep up and then
If a severe infestation exists, there
are granularproducts that
can be used for control, such as those
There are also chemicals that can be
sprayed outdoors to provide a barrier
around homes, such as those containing pyrethrins or bifenthrin. There
are also products that can be applied in
indoor and outdoor cracks and crevices,
such as those containing boric acid.
A field cricket, yllus sp. (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Photo by
Dr. Bart Drees,
Rhodesgrass mealybugs are not a new insect pest in
Texas, since they were first discovered in the
1940s. This mealybug is native to Asia and seems to be found more
frequently in the Gulf States.
It has a wide range of host grasses, with Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass being the most susceptible
but tall fescue and centipede grass can also become infested.
females are known of the Rhodesgrass mealybug so they reproduce through
parthenogenesis (without males). The female will deposit between 300
to 600 eggs in a white, cottony ovisac that is spherical in shape. The eggs
will hatch in 1 to 3 weeks and the crawlers will begin feeding under the
leaf sheath at a node. Crawlers can be introduced into new areas by
wind or attaching to animals as they cross the infested grass. The
Rhodesgrass mealybugs will be noticed by the presence of waxy, white masses
at the base of the stems and leaf sheaths. These mealybugs feed under
leaf sheaths, on nodes or in the crowns. They remove the plant sap with
their piercing-sucking mouthparts. This disrupts the normal water and
nutrient uptake, so the grass will turn brown and wilt. However, mealybug
infestations can lead to stunting and death of the turfgrass. Damage
may be most noticeable during periods of drought or if the grass is
Healthy turfgrass will have lower mealybug populations, so proper
fertilization and watering is needed.
Keep beneficial insects in the area to reduce the number of mealybugs,
such as big-eyed bugs and lady beetles.
After mowing, collect and destroy all infested grass clippings.
If an infestation exists then chemicals can be used such as bifenthrin,
deltamethrin, acephate or imidacloprid. Treatments should be based on
level of infestation, amount of damage, time of year and weather conditions.
Rhodesgrass Mealybugs. Photo by Eileen A. Buss, Assistant Professor,
Entomology and Nematology Department, Cooperative Extension Service,
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences,
University of Florida,
Mention of commercial products is for educational purposes only and does
not represent endorsement by Texas AgriLife Extension or The Texas A&M
University System. Insecticide label registrations are subject to change,
and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed. The
pesticide user is always responsible for applying products in accordance
with label directions. Always read and carefully follow the instructions on
the container label.