Integrated Pest Management or ‘IPM’ is a sustainable approach to managing plant pests by using several different methods to cause the least harm to people, property, and the environment. IPM focuses on the management of problems rather than their eradication. Using IPM strategies in your garden is one way to ensure its productivity!
Avoiding Pest Problems
Prevention is key to IPM! It is important to select the right plant, for the right place at the right time. It’s also important to select pest-resistant plant varieties and maintain healthy plants through proper watering and fertilization.
- Plan before you plant. Be sure not to plant in a location not suited for a particular plant. Stressed plants are more susceptible to insects and disease.
- Start with healthy plants. Do not plant plants with insects or disease.
- Monitor the lawn and garden regularly. You’ll want to be able to detect a pest problem earlier rather than later.
- Water and fertilize properly. Too much of either can make plants vulnerable to insects and disease.
- Encourage beneficial insects in your garden. Learn to recognize the insects in your garden and let the good ones do the work for you!
Recognizing Pest Problems
Depending upon the insect and the life cycle stage they are in, they may look different than we are used to! Here is a photo of the pupal stage of a lady beetle.
Scouting or monitoring the garden or plants in the yard frequently helps detect problems early. Some of the common insects you’ll find in your garden are: aphids, mealybugs, scales, whiteflies, thrips, mites, caterpillars, and stinkbugs. Often times you’ll find damage from the insect before you see the insect itself. Chewed or deformed leaves, sooty mold or a colony of ants scurrying up and down stems are all signs an insect may be present.
Treating Pest Problems
IPM is the best strategy for dealing with pests in the lawn and garden. IPM strategies:
- Remove affected plant leaves or parts. If an insect or disease is heavily concentrated in an area, you can reduce or eliminate the problem by simply removing it.
- Pick insects off by hand. Be sure to dispose of them so they don’t make it back into the garden.
- Look for beneficial insects. If you see a pest outbreak, try to determine if it is being managed by natural enemies. Many insects such as ladybugs and lacewings prey on pest insects and removing them will just help the pest insects. If you need help identifying insects, contact your local county Extension agent!
- Try the above strategies before pesticide use. If the problem persists and pesticides are needed, use products that have a reduced-risk to the environment such as insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, botanicals, or microbials.
- Read and follow all pesticide label instructions. The label is the law!
For more information on integrated pest management, please visit:
You’ve likely seen them in the grocery stores, and you’ll see them now through April. A large, lumpy (some may say ugly) piece of orange fruit with a bump near the stem. But what exactly is this special looking fruit? It’s a Shiranui mandarin!
The name ‘Shiranui’ is the generic term for this variety of citrus. You may have seen the same variety of mandarin marketed in grocery stores as ‘Sumo Citrus’ which is a trademarked name for the variety. In Japan, they are widely known as ‘Dekopons’. No matter what you call them, they are easily recognized by their distinctive appearance.
The Shiranui mandarin is a hybrid between a Ponkan tangerine and a Kiyomi Tangor (sweet orange x satsuma mandarin). They are easy to peel, sweet, and seedless. Shiranuis are considered to be one of the sweetest and most flavorful varieties of citrus on the market. The fruit are large and have a large protruding bump near the stem that resembles the top knot hairstyle of a Japanese sumo wrestler (hence the trademarked name ‘Sumo Citrus’).
While the majority of Shiranui mandarins on the market are grown in California, the variety can be grown here in Florida and several citrus growers in North Florida and South Georgia have began to experiment with plantings in the region. Homeowners, too, can try their hand at growing the variety as many Florida certified citrus nurseries carry the variety. For more information on different citrus varieties, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Agent.
Peanuts, also known as groundnuts, earthnuts or goobers have a long history of cultivation. Unlike other nuts, peanuts are grown underground and not on a tree (hence the name nickname groundnut or earthnut). Originally native to South America, peanuts made their way to North America from Africa, where they were introduced by African slaves in the early 1800’s.
Overturned peanuts in a field ready to be harvested. Photo credit: UF/IFAS
First grown in Virginia, peanuts were grown mainly for oil, food, and as a cocoa substitute. During this time, they were regarded as food for livestock and the poor. It wasn’t until the late 1800’s did their demand increase as there was a need for an affordable, high-protein food during the Civil War and world wars. Their popularity also increased when P.T. Barnum began selling hot roasted peanuts at circuses.
In the 1900’s, peanuts became a significant agricultural crop when the cotton boll weevil threatened the South’s cotton crop. Through the research findings and suggestions of Dr. George Washington Carver, peanuts were grown as a successful cash crop and contributed greatly to the sustainability of the farm. Though Dr. Carver did not invent peanut butter, he did invent more than 300 new uses for the peanut and peanut byproducts including shaving cream, leather dye, coffee, ink and shoe polish.
Now, peanuts are grown in 13 states, across the United States and the U.S. is the third largest producer of peanuts in the world. In 2019, Florida grew 155,000 acres of peanuts with a production value of roughly $119 million. Did you know you can even grow peanuts in your home garden? Check out the UF/IFAS EDIS publication: Producing Peanuts for Home Use to learn more!
Peanut Fun Facts:
- 99% of peanut farms are family-owned, businesses averaging 200 acres
- There are four different types of peanuts – Runner, Valencia, Spanish and Virginia
- Peanut plants are legumes and fix beneficial nitrogen back into the soil
- Peanut butter is an excellent source of niacin, and a good source of vitamin E and magnesium
- Peanuts do not contain cholesterol and are low in saturated fat
- Peanut butter accounts for half of all peanuts eaten in the U.S.
- It takes about 540 peanuts to make a 12-ounce jar of peanut butter
- There are enough peanuts in one acre to make 35,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
- The average person will eat almost 3,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in their lifetime
- Women and children prefer creamy peanut butter, while most men opt for chunky
- Peanut allergies affect just 0.6% of the U.S. population
UF/IFAS Peanut Butter Challenge
Help us fight hunger in the Panhandle by donating unopened jars of peanut butter to the Peanut Butter Challenge! Every year UF/IFAS Extension Offices across the Panhandle coordinate the Peanut Butter Challenge to address hunger and food insecurity in our area. You can support the challenge and help fight hunger by donating unopened jars of peanut butter, now through November 25th to your local UF/IFAS Extension office. Through a partnership with the Florida Peanut Producers Association and the Florida Peanut Federation, for every one pound of peanut butter you donate, TWO pounds are given back locally to those in need!
Danielle Sprague is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent in Jefferson County, Florida and has been for almost three years. Danielle is originally from the land of Indian River Grapefruit, otherwise known as Vero Beach, Florida! Her Extension program areas include Agriculture, Horticulture and Natural Resources.
As a young girl, Danielle always thought she would be a nurse. She always wanted to help others and make a difference in her community. It wasn’t until she was exposed to the agriculture industry through 4-H in high school, did she realize there were other avenues to do so. With a newfound appreciation and passion for the agriculture industry, Danielle changed career paths completely.
She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Studies from Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida. While at Warner University, she completed internships at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center as well as with Dow AgroSciences. Following that, she earned her Master’s degree in Entomology from the University of Florida where she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. She considers her current position as an Agriculture Extension Agent her dream job.
Danielle teaching about insects.
When she isn’t working, Danielle enjoys boating, fishing, hunting, camping, visiting different agritourism operations, pretty much anything outdoors! She also enjoys cooking and baking.
Whitefly adults and eggs. Photo Credit: James Castner, University of Florida, IFAS.
Whiteflies are a pest we typically see in the fall but if you look around, you’ll notice high densities of them now. Despite their name, whiteflies are more closely related to an aphid or scale insect than a fly. They are 1/16 of an inch long (about the size of a gnat) and resemble small moths. They can be found on the undersides of host plant leaves and their behavior is easily recognizable as they scatter from the leaves when they are disturbed.
Silverleaf Whitefly. Photo by Lyle Buss, UF/IFAS
You’ll find whiteflies on a variety of plants ranging from ornamentals such as ficus, poinsettia, hibiscus, and ivy to vegetables like tomato, pepper, eggplant and okra. Some species feed on sweet potatoes, vegetables in the cabbage family, and citrus.
There are several species of whiteflies in Florida but the three main species of agricultural and horticultural concern are the silverleaf whitefly (also known as the sweet potato whitefly), citrus whitefly, and the ficus whitefly. Whiteflies have piercing-sucking mouthparts with which they feed on plants. The top side of leaves on infested plants may become pale or spotted due to whiteflies feeding on the undersides of leaves. It’s not uncommon for an infestation of whiteflies to go unnoticed until leaves turn yellow or drop unexpectedly. Some whitefly species can cause greater damage by transmitting plant viruses.
Whiteflies, along with aphids, scales and mealybugs excrete a sugary substance known as honeydew. This honeydew coats the surface of the plant where the insect feeds and facilitates the growth of a black fungus called sooty mold. Ants and wasps also feed on the honeydew secreted by these insects and may serve as an indicator that a plant is infested with whiteflies or other honeydew secreting insects.
Adult female whiteflies can lay anywhere from 200-400 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs are laid on the undersides of leaves. These eggs hatch into nymphs (also known as crawlers) after 4-12 days. From there, the crawlers will insert their mouthparts into the leaves of host plants where they will molt, pupate and then become adult whiteflies. This process takes anywhere from four weeks to six months, depending on temperature and humidity.
Whiteflies are difficult to control due to their prolific reproductive cycle. It is difficult to get rid of whiteflies once there is an infestation. As with dealing with most insects, proper plant selection, irrigation, and fertilization are critical for managing whiteflies. Removing sources of infestation such as weeds around the garden or old plant debris around the yard can help prevent whitefly populations from carrying over to the next season. Natural predators such as lady beetles, lacewings and predatory mites can help keep whitefly populations in check.
Insecticides such as insecticidal soap or horticultural oil can be used to help reduce whitefly populations. Be sure to always read the label for instructions. For more information on whiteflies, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.