Vegetable production is always at a high risk of insect damage.

Insect pests range from caterpillars and true bugs that devastate summer crops to the insects of cool-season crops like aphids and yellow-margined leaf beetles.

Warm winter temperatures and high humidity are favorable to the year-round pest activity.

Conventional vegetable producers in the Deep South must get a copy of the 2013 Southeast Vegetable Crop Handbook for complete insecticide recommendations or contact your county Extension office.

Organic producers and home gardeners should use the new Extension bulletins available at http://www.aces.edu.

Identify insect pests correctly and then think about managing them using integrated pest management (IPM) tactics.

Conventional vegetable insecticides fall in 18 different categories. Caterpillars can devastate plant stands if not controlled, and there are many effective insecticides for caterpillars with new modes of action.

We have evaluated spinetoram (Radiant) and flubendiamide (Belt) in our test plots as stand-alone or rotational products. These insecticides are more selective than synthetic pyrethroids and also are softer on beneficial insects.

Repeated synthetic pyrethroid treatments (like bifenthrin) can flare up spider mites in hot weather, so reduce your insecticide applications in unfavorable conditions or shift to selective products.

Certain insecticides like chlorantraniliprole (Coragen) and imidacloprid (Admire) can be applied through drip irrigation for early season insect control with long residual.

Through a series of demonstration plots at research stations and commercial fields, a mixed trap-cropping system with Peredovik sunflower and NK300 (forage) sorghum for leaf-footed bug and stink bug management was studied in Alabama.

The trap crops successfully attracted leaf-footed bugs away from the main crop and kept them until late-season.

Two applications of insecticides like zeta-cypermethrin (Mustang Max) and lambda-cyhalothrin (Warrior) on sorghum head reduced 70 to 90 percent of the leaf-footed bugs without the need for treating the main crop against sucking insects.

Spider mite outbreaks were common across Alabama, and mowing grass close to the crop during hot weather results in greater spread of this pest.

High-tunnel producers may also experience spider mites due to the lack of rainfall inside the structure.