Effective miticides include abamectin (Agri-Mek — also kills Colorado potato beetles), bifenazate (Acramite ), and fenpyroximate (Portal — a new product). For squash bug control, bifenthin (Brigade) and dinotefuran (Venom) provided consistent results in field tests.

Apply insecticides on a timely basis when insects are most vulnerable, use a surfactant as recommended, and follow the preharvest interval mentioned on the insecticide labels before using the products.

Rotate insecticides and minimize applications to conserve the natural enemies and pollinators.

Organic vegetable insect control is difficult and labor-intensive in high pest pressure conditions.

There is more research-based information available today that should be helpful to organic producers and gardeners.

Alabama Extension and other neighboring states now provide intensive hands-on training to organic producers through small farm programs. Please consult the Extension agent in your area for more information.

In organic farming systems, pest prevention through cultural and mechanical tactics is a very important aspect that producers must understand since organic pesticides are expensive with poor residual effect.

In the Deep South, organic farming can be pesticide-intensive and farmers must use approved insecticides in a timely manner (keep multiple products handy for use).

Some of the fast-acting contact insecticides that are good for caterpillar control include spinosad (Entrust) and pyrethrum (Pyganic).

Some slow-acting, but effective caterpillar control products, include Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt (Dipel, Thuricide, Xentari), Beauveria bassiana (BotaniGard), and neem oil (Molt-X). Alabama IPM studies suggest BotaniGard and Molt-X can be tank-mixed and rotated with paraffinic oil (Suffoil-X) for excellent aphid control.

Bt formulation ‘Xentari’ is also very effective against mixed population of caterpillars and provides uniform fruit size.

Always target the small caterpillars with insecticides when they are in low numbers. Target the immature stages of beetles on foliage (e.g., Colorado potato beetle, yellow-margined leaf beetle, Mexican bean beetle) with insecticides but hand-remove the adults or use some kind of a barrier (insect netting).

Spinosad is an extremely toxic organic insecticide that is also effective against flea beetles and other late-season pests.

Remember to identify insects first and then think of an action plan based on economic thresholds. Do not use the wrong insecticide and face the frustration of crop failure.

Do not expect 100 percent control of pests with organic insecticides and rotate products to avoid insecticide resistance.

Stop spraying if the pest population is low or when natural enemies are abundant.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The 2014 Alabama Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Tradeshow will be held at Auburn, Ala., on Feb. 7-8, 2014. This is the largest networking and learning opportunity of its kind, so don’t miss it.

For more information, visit http://www.afvga.aces.edu/.

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