Simply stated, entomology is the branch of zoology dealing with the scientific study of insects. Insects are defined as any of numerous, small arthropod animals of the class Insecta, having an adult state characterized by three pairs of legs and a body segmented into head, thorax, and abdomen. Insects usually have two pairs of wings.
Being interested in these critters is natural for gardeners. We really should know which ones we should encourage in our gardens and which ones we should consider eliminating from our gardens.
With this in mind, the Fort Bend Master Gardeners are fortunate to have a very active Entomology group with several dedicated members. These ‘bug-hunters’ can help you identify the good guys and tell you some ways to encourage them.
The best defense against pest insects is a healthy garden. Choose plants that are pest-resistant and well-adaped to our area; include host plants for beneficial insects. Feed your soil with organic compost: the microbes and nutrients will help grow strong, robust plants.
Not all insects are pests. Try to observe and identify the insects in your garden, and learn which ones are beneficial as predators, pollinators, parasites or decomposers. Monitor pest populations, and don’t worry about small numbers of pests. After all, they are dinner for the predators, and a few holes in leaves won’t hurt your plants.
If damage is increasing to unacceptable levels, try to accurately identify the pest so that the treatment can be specific. Use mechanical methods first, e.g. handpicking tomato hornworms or spraying the undersides of leaves with water for spider mites. Insecticidal soaps, Neem oil, and biological products such as Bt and Spinosad are the next level of attack. Use chemical pesticides as a last resort, and read the labels carefully when purchasing and applying them.
Further information on various insects can be found at the Insects in the City (http://citybugs.tamu.edu/index.asp) web page provided by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and Texas A&M University.
Master Gardeners also contribute articles about insects. You can read all of them by browsing through our past issues of our newsletter, The Grapvine which can be found in the Library.
The list of articles below can be found in our Library, click the link to view the article. (Each of the following articles should be in the Library under the category of Entomology (Insects). They need to be linked from this page list as well for access from the Library.
- Attracting Butterflies to Your Garden in Fort Bend County
- Black Swallowtail Butterfly
- Gulf Fritillary Butterfly