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Friday, September 4, 2020

Mosquitos and Fall Armyworms

Fall Armyworms
Photo: Stephen Biles


  We've seen fall armyworms moving in a few pastures recently. The threshold for this insect is about 2-3 caterpillars per square foot, fewer if the grass is young. The armyworms tend to be easier to see and are more actively feeding in the early morning or when it's cooler and cloudy out. On hot days check low in the canopy for caterpillars. For more information on fall armyworms and control options check out: https://lubbock.tamu.edu/files/2018/09/Armyworm-Fact-Sheet-2018.pdf

Psorophora sp.
Photo: Kate Crumley

  Our recent pop up showers have led to an increase in mosquito numbers in places. We have several species of mosquitos in our area, and all of them breed in standing water. It doesn't take much water to provide an adequate spot for mosquitos to breed.

Aedes albopictus by Dr. Mike Merchant 

  Our mosquito populations are high right now. The two smaller mosquito species pictured above (Aedes sp.) are active throughout the day and into the evening, and will preferentially feed on humans. They can breed in very little water, and can reproduce quickly. Our first line of defense against mosquito borne illness is remembering the "Four Ds".

— DrainEmpty standing water, thus eliminating mosquito breeding sites.
— Dress: Put on long sleeved shirts and pants when going outside.
— DefendApply mosquito repellent when going outside.
— Dusk and Dawn: Avoid outdoor activity during these two most mosquito-active periods.

  Dr. Sonja Swiger, our Agrilife extension entomologist at Stephenville states "Using products containing DEET, picaridin, oil of Lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535, as active ingredients provide reasonably long-lasting protection from mosquito bites." Be sure to read and follow the label for any product you use. 

Mosquito dunk in a flooded yard
Photo: Kate Crumley

  Mosquito control often begins with cultural management options, rather than chemical options. Emptying pet's water dishes, flower pots, and anything else that can hold water will limit their breeding ground and help reduce populations. Most mosquitos need only a small amount of standing water to reproduce. Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus both frequently lay eggs in artificial containers and fly very short distances (100-300 yards) once they emerge from the pools they were laid in as eggs. Tires are a common breeding ground for mosquitos. They are difficult to dump standing water out of, and will often hold water for extended periods of time. If you have standing water that you cannot dump out regularly, consider purchasing some mosquito dunks. These floating donuts contain BTI, a bacteria toxic specifically to mosquitos. This means the water is non toxic to other animals, so is still safe if a pet drinks from the standing water. 

  For more information on mosquito control check out these websites:


For further questions, don't hesitate to call me at the Wharton extension office, or send me an email.

Have a good weekend everyone!


Kate Crumley