Pests, Insects and Disease

Pests, Insects & Disease

Additional Information


“Grasshoppers are a yearly problem in New Mexico. If they don’t cause problems for you in a given year, rest assured that someone is having problems. Of course, not all the grasshoppers we see in New Mexico eat our garden plants, many eat only weeds. Before treating for grasshopper control, be sure they are damaging your garden plants!   Since grasshoppers are capable of migrating from location to location, they are especially problematic.
They begin in open land where the eggs were laid. First they feed on grasses and weeds, then when these
are gone, they migrate to our gardens. Insecticides can be used to kill grasshoppers, but when used on a
limited area such as a private garden or landscape, the effect is minimal. Insecticides will kill them, but
new ones migrate in, eat the dead grasshoppers, then proceed to eat our plants. Because the bodies of the
dead grasshoppers are eaten, it appears that the insecticide failed. Since new grasshoppers have migrated
into the area, our gardens are still eaten. Application of appropriate pesticides to barrier plants around our properties can sometimes reduce the problem by killing many of the grasshoppers before they reach our vegetable and flower gardens. However, some will make it through to the gardens and require treatment
there with insecticides or hand picking. Some gardeners raise guinea fowl, turkeys, or other grasshopper eaters. These can then provide considerable protection from grasshopper damage, even though the fowl may do some damage to
exposed fruits and vegetables in the garden. If fowl are used, be sure to select insecticides carefully or,
if you prefer, rely entirely on the fowl. Some gardeners use Nosema locustae, a biological control agent for grasshopper control. Products with
the Nosema are slow acting and relatively ineffective in controlling grasshoppers once they get larger.
Besides, of the many different types of grasshoppers which infest New Mexico, the Nosema is effective
with only a few.  If you choose to use insecticides, be sure to choose a product labeled for use on the types of plants you
have in the garden, and be sure it is for control of grasshopper problems. For your own safety, follow the
label directions and be sure to note and follow the recommend harvest interval before harvesting and eating the treated vegetables. Wash all produce with clear water before eating it.”
Above article Copied from: NMSU College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences  Extension/Outreach Southwest Yard & Garden 1997 Archives

Control Methods Used By Some Master Gardeners in Otero County
Chickens are effective insect eaters and do not damage the crops.  Hens walk between rows of plants looking up and down for insects.  When she notices movement, she shakes the stalk to dislodge the insect for the chicks.


IDENTIFYING APHIDS Aphids are tiny (under ¼-inch), and often invisible to the naked eye. Various species can appear white, black, brown, gray, yellow, light green, or even pink! Some may have a waxy or woolly coating. They have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae; the nymphs look similar to adults. Most species have two short tubes (called cornicles) projecting from their hind end. Adults are usually wingless, but most species can develop a winged form when populations become crowded, so that when food quality suffers, the insects can travel to other plants, reproduce, and start a new colony. Aphids usually feed in large groups, although you might occasionally see them singly or in small numbers. While aphids in general feed on a wide variety of plants, different species of aphids can be specific to certain plants. For example, some species include bean aphids, cabbage aphids, potato aphids, green peach aphids, melon aphids, and woolly apple aphids.
APHID DAMAGE Nymphs and adults feed on plant juices, attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit, and/or roots, depending on species. Most especially like succulent or new growth. Some, such as the green peach aphid, feed on a variety of plants, while others, such as the rosy apple aphid, focus on one or just a few plant hosts. · Look for misshapen, curling, stunted, or yellow leaves. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves, aphids love to hide there. · If the leaves or stems are covered with a sticky substance, that is a sign that aphids may have been sipping sap. The honeydew, a sugary liquid produced by the insects as waste, can attract other insects, such as ants, which gather the substance for food. When aphids feed on trees, their honeydew can drop onto cars, outdoor furniture, driveways, etc. · The honeydew can sometimes develop a fungal growth called sooty mold, causing branches and leaves to appear black. · Aphids feeding on flowers or fruit can cause them to become distorted. · Some aphid species cause galls to form on roots or leaves. · Aphids may transmit viruses to certain plants, and also attract other insects that prey on them.
CONTROL AND PREVENTION · Try spraying cold water on the leaves, sometimes all aphids need is a cool blast to dislodge them. · If you have an aphid invasion, dust plants with flour. It constipates the pests.  · Use commercially available biological controls or by spraying with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. · You can often get rid of aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent such as Ivory. · Stir together 1 quart of water, 1 tsp of liquid dish soap and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Do not dilute before spraying on plants. · Organic controls include soapy emulsion, horticultural oil (read the directions), and pyrethrum spray. Soapy water should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks. · Use homemade garlic or tomato-leaf sprays.
HOW TO PREVENT APHIDS · For fruit or shade trees, spray dormant oil to kill overwintering eggs. · You can purchase beneficial insects, such as lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which will feed on aphids. These are usually ordered via mail—check the Internet for labs. They should keep the aphid populations controlled in the first place. o You can also plant flowering groundcovers in home orchards to attract predators. · Companion planting can be very helpful to keep aphids away from your plants in the first place. For example: o Aphids are repelled by catnip. o Aphids are especially attracted to mustard and nasturtium. You can plant these near more valuable plants as traps for the aphids.  o Nasturtiums spoil the taste of fruit tree sap for aphids and will help keep aphids off broccoli. o Garlic and chives repel aphids when planted near lettuce, peas, or rose bushes.
Hosing down your plants is one way to control the aphid population in your garden.

USING ALCOHOL TO CONTROL APHIDS Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) works fine and is easy to find, but be sure it doesn’t have additives. Ethanol (grain alcohol) seems to work best. Alcohol usually comes in 70 percent strength in stores (or 95 percent strength purchased commercially). To make an insecticidal spray, mix equal parts 70 percent alcohol and water (or, if using 95 percent alcohol, mix 1 part alcohol to 1 ½ parts water).  You can also add alcohol to a soapy emulsion to make it more effective. For example, in a spray bottle combine 5 cups water, 2 cups alcohol, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap. **Caution: When applying an alcohol or soap spray, or a combination, always test a small area first, and apply in morning or evening, when the sun is not beating down. Watch the plant for a few days for any adverse reactions before applying more. Plants can be sensitive to alcohol and soap. Also, some soaps have additives that can damage plants—select the purest form.
-Article courtesy of Old Farmers Almanac

Unknown Insects

Is something eating your plants but you never see it?
Yellow Sticky Traps attract nibbling insects away from the plants and holds them on the
trap so you can monitor your garden for infestations. They are effective, entirely safe,
and simple to use! They are natural, low-tech, economical alternative to sprays and harmful
chemicals. If the sticky traps are not enough to control the infestation alone, at least you
will know exactly what is “bugging” your plants, allowing you to treat the problem specifically.
Many insects that prey on plants are attracted to the color yellow, so these tags are bright yellow,
with adhesive on both sides. Just slip a tag into the 11-inch wire stake, put the stake in the soil
beside the plant you want to protect, and monitor the insects. Sticky traps are effective for aphids,
fungus gnats, whiteflies, leafminers, carrot rust flies, gypsy  moths, thrips and more.  You can also encourage insect control by allowing spiders to build webs in your
yard or ants to build nests in your garden.  They are worth their weight in gold
for controlling insects such as caterpillars which may be pests.

Need Help Identifying an Insect?

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Or drop off a sample to the County Extension Office. It’s FREE You can download a submission form at the bottom of this page.













Birds are a welcome addition to the garden, but if the crows are devouring your corn and the jays are eating your berries, there are ways to deter them and live in harmony.

  • Scary balloons (vinyl balls with menacing faces) are available at garden centers and on-line. Make your own using shiny Mylar balloons, and secure them to posts around your garden. Tie shiny ribbon (or surveyor’s tape) from the balloons for more effect, and don’t forget to move them every few days.
  • Build a barrier. To keep nibblers at bay, place inverted crates or disposable cups (with the bottoms cut out) over vulnerable seedlings. Chicken wire can also be laid over a seedbed. (As seedlings grow, raise it slightly using boards or bricks.) “I made a cone out of window screen cloth for my tomato plants,” says a gardener in Maryland. “When they got too big for the cones, I switched to netting.”
  • Cast a net. “Netting is the only certain way of deterring birds,” says Pippa Greenwood, author of American Horticultural Society Pests & Diseases. To prevent snagging on twigs or thorns, some gardeners construct an inexpensive framework to cover their plants. Use bamboo poles, fence posts, or tall stakes. Drape the netting over the framework, so it reaches the ground, and anchor it to the ground with bent wire for wind protection. If your garden rows aren’t too long, consider making a V-shaped “tent” above the row to protect seedlings until they are rooted well enough to resist birds pulling on them.
  • Throw some line. Fishing line or black thread, artistically woven over your garden, will stymie bird pests. “Birds don’t like wires,” says Wagner. “Put posts around your garden and weave the thread or line over your crops.”
  • Go high-tech.  Birdbusters ( makes a sophisticated screech owl to frighten even the bravest of birds. The owl spins in the wind and has a microchip inside that emits the sound of an attacking hawk.
  • Go Low -tech. Children’s spinning pin-wheels placed around garden will scare birds
  • Remember the benefits. Although some birds can be nuisances, they are also hardworking garden allies, munching away on annoying pests like snails, slugs, and harmful insects. Keep this in mind, and you may feel more generous toward our feathered friends.

-Info Courtesy of Old Farmers Almanac

Not Sure What’s Causing Damage?…

Check out our symptom checker photos below.  (Mouse over the photo for a description of the problem)

Or drop off a sample to the County extension office for evaluation. It’s FREE!
You can download a submission form at the bottom of this page.



Greenhouse Pest Management NMSU (PDF)
Pocket Guide to the Beneficial Insects of New Mexico (PDF)