As I start planning for the fall planting season, not only am I starting transplants of cool season vegetables and getting ready to plant, I also am getting prepared for the pests that will attack my crops. I am anticipating during the beginning of the fall season, caterpillars will be abundant on my cabbages, tomatoes, peppers, and ___. Since I know that caterpillars will begin to show up shortly after a plant my garden, I will frequently have to scout and be on the lookout for early chewing damage to my plants. When I find caterpillars and ID them correctly (through either prior knowledge or help from my extension office) I will either manually pick them off and throw them in a bucket of soapy water, or I will use “BT” (a natural occurring bacterium that makes caterpillars sick and kills them). I will also be on the lookout in my garden will be for rippling of the leaves from rasping of thrips, and stunted growth from piercing and sucking insect damage like aphids. Most importantly, when scouting, make sure to always look on the underside of the leaves for insects. This is where most of the insects will be hiding. Frequent scouting will help you to identify and correct an issue in your garden before it becomes a large problem. If you do find soft bodied insects like aphids, thrips, or spidermites on your plants, an easy way to get rid of them is to spray your plants with soapy water; a mixture of a gallon of water to 1-2 tbsp of dish soap. For more information on how garden pests, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in120 and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh036.
Anticipating Pests for Fall Planting Season