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Handbook of Vegetable Pests

Handbook of Vegetable Pests

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Handbook of Vegetable Pests

3,467 pagine
40 ore
Apr 23, 2020


Handbook of Vegetable Pests, Second Edition, provides two types of diagnostic aids: the easy-to-use "guides to pests of vegetable crops", which guides the reader to the most likely pests of each vegetable crop based on the portion of the plant attacked and the category of pest; and the more technical dichotomous keys for identification of many of the difficult-to-identify species. It includes over 300 common and occasional pest species, detailing the geographic distribution of vegetable pests, host plant relationships, natural enemies, damage, life history, and methods of control and damage prevention.

  • Presents a current and comprehensive synthesis of vetted information for the support of both commercial and home vegetable production
  • Includes over 300 common and occasional pest species, or species complexes, known to affect vegetables grown in the United States and Canada
  • Summarizes the important findings of the last 150 years
  • Provides citations to the original literature
Apr 23, 2020

Informazioni sull'autore

Professor John Capinera’s primary interest and experience is in the field of insect ecology, particularly insect-plant relationships. His work has also included a focus on insect pest management, especially feeding deterrents, biological control, damage assessment, and economic thresholds.

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Anteprima del libro

Handbook of Vegetable Pests - John Capinera

Handbook of Vegetable Pests

Second Edition

John L. Capinera

Emeritus Professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, University of Florida, United States

Table of Contents

Cover image

Title page





Chapter 1: Introduction


North American vegetable crops

Insects and insect relatives

Pest management philosophy and practices

Chapter 2: Pest Identification


General Considerations

Why Identification Is so Important?

Approaches to Identification

Chapter 3: Guides to Pest Identification, Arranged by Plant Taxon


Guide to common pests affecting asparagus

Guide to common pests affecting bean and related crops

Guide to common pests affecting beet and related crops

Guide to common pests affecting cabbage and related crops

Guide to common pests affecting carrot and related plants

Guide to common pests affecting lettuce and related crops

Guide to identification of common insect pests affecting okra

Guide to common pests affecting onion and related plants

Guide to common pests affecting rhubarb

Guide to common pests affecting squash and related crops

Guide to common pests affecting sweet corn

Guide to common pests affecting sweet potato

Guide to common pests affecting tomato and related plants

Part I: Class Insecta—Insects

Chapter 4: Order Blattodea—Cockroaches and Termites


Family Ectobiidae

Family Blaberidae

Family Rhinotermitidae

Chapter 5: Order Coleoptera—Beetles, White Grubs, and Wireworms


Family Carabidae—Ground Beetles

Family Chrysomelidae, Subfamily Alticinae—Flea Beetles

Family Chrysomelidae, Subfamily Bruchinae—Pea and Bean Seed Beetles (Pea and Bean Weevils)

Family Chrysomelidae, Subfamily Cassidinae—Tortoise Beetles

Family Chrysomelidae, Several Subfamilies—Leaf Beetles

Family Coccinellidae—Lady Beetles

Families Curculionidae and Brentidae—Weevils and Primitive Weevils

Family Elateridae—Click Beetles and Wireworms

Family Meloidae—Blister Beetles

Family Nitidulidae—Sap Beetles

Family Scarabaeidae—Scarab Beetles and White Grubs

Family Tenebrionidae—Darking Beetles and False Wireworms

Chapter 6: Order Dermaptera—Earwigs


European Earwig

Chapter 7: Order Diptera—Flies and Maggots


Family Agromyzidae—Leafminer flies

Family Anthomyiidae—Root and seed maggots, leafminer flies

Family Cecidomyiidae—Gall midges

Family Drosophilidae—Pomace flies

Family Psilidae—Rust flies

Family Syrphidae—Flower and bulb flies

Family Tephritidae—Fruit flies

Family Tipulidae—Crane flies

Family Ulidiidae—Picturewing flies

Chapter 8: Order Hemiptera—Bugs


Family Aleyrodidae—Whiteflies

Family Aphididae—Aphids

Family Blissidae—Blissid Bugs

Family Cicadellidae—Leafhoppers

Family Coreidae––Leaffooted and Squash Bugs

Family Cydnidae—Burrower Bugs

Family Delphacidae—Planthoppers

Family Lygaeidae—Seed Bugs

Family Miridae—Plant Bugs

Family Pentatomidae—Stink Bugs

Family Pseudococcidae—Mealybugs

Pyrrhocoridae—Cotton Stainers

Family Psyllidae—Psyllids

Family Thyrecoridae—Ebony Bugs

Family Tingidae—Lace Bugs

Chapter 9: Order Hymenoptera—Ants and Sawflies


Family Argidae—Sawflies

Family Formicidae—Ants

Chapter 10: Order Lepidoptera—Caterpillars, Moths, and Butterflies


Family Acrolepiidae—False Diamondback Moths

Family Bedellidae—Bedellid Moths

Family Depressariidae—Depressariid Moths

Family Crambidae—Borers, Budworms, Leaftiers, Webworms, and Snout Moths

Family Erebidae—Woollybear Caterpillars, Tiger Moths, and Others

Family Gelechiidae—Leafminer Moths

Family Hesperiidae—Skippers

Family Lycaenidae—Hairstreak Butterflies

Family Noctuidae—Armyworms, Cutworms, Loopers, Stalk Borers, and Noctuid Moths

Family Papilionidae—Celeryworms and Swallowtail Butterflies

Family Pieridae—Cabbage Worms, White, and Sulfur Butterflies

Family Plutellidae—Diamondback Moths

Family Pterophoridae—Plume Moths

Family Pyralidae—Pyralid Moths

Family Sesiidae—Vine Borers and Clearwing Moths

Family Sphingidae—Hornworms and Sphinx Moths

Family Tortricidae—Leafroller Moths

Chapter 11: Order Orthoptera—Grasshoppers, crickets, and katydids


Family Acrididae—Grasshoppers

Family Gryllidae—Field crickets

Family Gryllotalpidae—Mole crickets

Family Tettigoniidae—Shield-backed katydids

Chapter 12: Order Thysanoptera—Thrips


American Bean Thrips

Chapter 13: Other Invertebrate Pests


Class Acari—Mites

Class Collembola—Springtails

Class Diplopoda—Millipedes

Class Isopoda—Woodlice (Pillbugs and Sowbugs)

Class Gastropoda—Slugs and Snails

Class Symphyla—Symphylans

Appendix A: Keys to Selected Groups of Pests

Key to major orders of insects affecting vegetable crops

Key to common stink bugs affecting vegetables

Key to common armyworms and cutworms

Key to common cabbage white butterflies

Key to common cabbageworms

Key to common loopers affecting vegetables

Key to common stalk borers affecting corn

Guide to common adult flea beetles

Key to genera of wireworms commonly affecting vegetables

Key to common thrips affecting vegetables

Key to common mites affecting vegetables

Key to adult slugs commonly affecting vegetables

Key to adult snails commonly affecting vegetables

Appendix B: Vegetable Plant Names

Common name, scientific name, and plant family

Scientific name, common name, and plant family

Plant family, common name, and scientific name

Journal Abbreviations and Journal Titles






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Knowledge and best practice in this field are constantly changing. As new research and experience broaden our understanding, changes in research methods, professional practices, or medical treatment may become necessary.

Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility.

To the fullest extent of the law, neither the Publisher nor the authors, contributors, or editors, assume any liability for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in the material herein.

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This book is dedicated to my wife, Marsha, who assisted me in many ways.

Her continuing support will be long remembered.


The Handbook of Vegetable Pests was produced as a reference for professionals working in agriculture. Although used mostly as a reference for entomologists, this manual also is handy as a guide for horticulturalists, cooperative extension service personnel, consultants, and others. This book is an update for material accumulating since 2001, consisting mostly of information that has accumulated since that date. About 50 new treatments of pests are included, consisting mostly of recent invaders.

The key elements of the Handbook of Vegetable Pests are the introduction, which provides an overview of vertebrate pests that cause injury to crop plants in North America; identification guides, which list the major and minor pests known to attack each crop plant; pest profiles, which describe the appearance, life history, and management of the pests; appendices, which provide some simple keys to important taxa; glossary, which defines many scientific terms used in the Handbook; references, a list of journals, books, and other publications cited in the pest profile section; and index, which will assist in finding entries in the Handbook. Particularly noteworthy is the abundance of new journals that have proliferated in recent years, many of which are available only in electronic form.


I would like to acknowledge Lyle Buss for the photographic support he provided, which proved to be extremely valuable.

Chapter 1



Vegetables are an important element in the culture and economy of North America. The consumption of vegetables is often a daily ritual, and according to nutritionists, vegetables should be eaten several times per day. Much has been written about vegetable culture, but surprisingly few efforts have been made to compile a comprehensive treatment of vegetable pests for North America. Pests often are an important constraint on vegetable production. Those tasty crops bred to please humans also entice pests! Effective management of vegetable pests is sometimes easy and sometimes difficult, but is assuredly easier when pertinent information is readily available.


Vegetables; Insect pests; Awareness of insect pests

North American vegetable crops

The production of vegetable crops is a fundamental industry, a popular hobby, and an important element of our culture. The farm gate value of North American vegetable crops exceeds $13 billion annually (2016 estimate), and fuels several other industries such as equipment manufacture, transportation, and retail and restaurant food sales worth many times the value of the raw materials. Vegetable production also has immense value as a form of recreation and relaxation. Surveys of recreational habits consistently reveal gardening to be the number one American hobby. Also, food is an important element of all cultures, and to be able to access diverse and freshly harvested produce, and perhaps to share it with family and friends, remains a desirable and cherished behavior among North Americans. Because the United States and Canada are populated primarily by people whose ancestors migrated from another country in relatively recent times, there are many specialty crops desired by one ethnic group or another that are not yet part of the mainstream of commerce. Thus, local or home garden production of specialty vegetables flourishes in many ethnic communities. For example, Asian vegetables are too small a component of vegetable commerce to be tabulated separately by statisticians concerned with vegetable production. This will change, however, as increase in Asian and Latin American vegetables is evident in American markets. Broccoli was rare outside Italian-American communities until the 1950s, and has since become one of the most popular vegetables, so it is safe to predict that other changes are imminent as North American consumers become more cosmopolitan in their dietary habits.

What Are the Major Vegetable Crops?

Numerous types of vegetables are available to the people of the United States and Canada. Availability has changed radically during the 20th century. Early in the century, a great deal of vegetable production was local, people ate what was seasonally available, and in the winter months ate only what stored well in root cellars or could be preserved through canning. With the improvement in transportation in the middle of the century, southern vegetable production areas could keep northern consumers supplied with fresh vegetables through most of the winter season. Now fresh produce not only is produced in southern states, but increasing quantities are being imported from Mexico, Central America, and even Southern South America.

Complete agreement is lacking on what plants should be called vegetables. In government statistics, potato and sweet potato tend to be grouped with field or staple crops such as wheat, barley, and rice. However, most people think of potato and sweet potato as vegetables. Dry beans such as pinto bean and navy bean are also usually treated as field crops, whereas the same species grown for edible pods as bush beans and pole beans are considered vegetables, and even dry beans are thought of as vegetables by many. Strawberry is treated as a vegetable in some statistical compilations, but most people think of strawberry as a fruit. Also, there are plants such as parsley and coriander that might be considered herbs rather than vegetables because they are used mostly for seasoning.

What vegetables do North Americans prefer to eat? Despite an increase in importation of vegetables from other countries, examination of the commercial production data (area planted and value of crops) provides a good indication of what is popular. Following are estimates of fresh market vegetable production data for the most important vegetable crops grown in the United States for 2016–17 (Table 1.1).

Table 1.1

The relative importance of processed (canned and frozen) vegetables varies considerably from the fresh market values. In some cases (e.g., pea, beet, lima bean, sweet corn, tomato), a substantial portion of the crop is diverted to processing, whereas with other vegetables (e.g., potato, sweet potato, cucumber, cabbage) nearly all is sold as fresh produce.

Most vegetable crops can be grown in all areas of the United States and Canada, though some crops are clearly favored by long seasons and hot summers, and others by cooler summers. Home gardeners are remarkable in their ability to nurture vegetables through all sorts of climatic difficulties, but commercial producers tend to gravitate to the ideal climatic conditions for a particular vegetable. Thus, at least in commercial vegetable production, crops are concentrated in a few areas. The leading fresh market vegetable producing states are illustrated in Table 1.2.

Table 1.2

The southern or warm-weather states tend to dominate the fresh market vegetable industry because vegetables can be grown only in these locations during the winter months. In contrast, northern states contain a high proportion of the processed vegetable industry, though California leads in processed vegetables as well. The leading producers of processed vegetables in the United States are illustrated in Table 1.3.

Table 1.3

In Canada, commercial vegetable production similarly is concentrated in a few provinces as presented in Table 1.4.

Table 1.4

Not evident from these data are the historical trends in consumption. Although a detailed description of dietary changes is beyond the scope of this treatment, salad vegetables such as lettuce, cucumber, and tomato have gained increasing importance. Some vegetables such as potato and sweet corn remain popular, though in the case of sweet corn there has been a shift from canned and frozen to fresh produce. Although some of the cool-weather vegetables such as cabbage, pea, rutabaga, and turnip have decreased in popularity, some such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower have increased in popularity.

Characteristics of the Major Vegetable Crops

Asparagus (Family Asparagaceae, Formerly Liliaceae)

Asparagus is a hardy perennial plant, and once established remains productive for many years. It is grown in all except the warmest regions of North America, and is winter-hardy in most climates. It is usually grown from crowns (roots), but seeds may be used. Seeds are spread freely by birds, and it is common to find asparagus growing wild along roadsides, fences and irrigation ditches. California, Washington, and Michigan are leaders in asparagus production, though commercial production is also important in Eastern Canada. Asparagus is popular in home gardens grown in northern areas, probably because it is one of the first crops available for harvest in the spring. It has been an important vegetable since ancient times, and originated in the Mediterranean region. The spears or stems as they first push up from the soil are harvested; once they begin to branch they become tough and inedible. The most serious pest is asparagus aphid, Brachycorynella asparagi (Mordvilko), though its economic impact is mostly a western phenomenon. In Eastern North America, asparagus beetle, Crioceris asparagi (Linnaeus), and spotted asparagus beetle, C. duodecimpunctata (Linnaeus), can be a nuisance.

Bean and Related Crops (Family Fabaceae, Formerly Leguminosae) (Bush Bean, Chickpea, Cowpea, Dry Bean, Faba Bean, Lentil, Lima Bean, Pea, Snap Bean, and Other Beans)

Legumes are known for their ability to harbor nitrifying bacteria; nitrogen enhances soil productivity. The cultivated legume vegetable crops are not particularly efficient as a source of nitrogen for plant growth, however, so fertilization is still required. Most of the leguminous vegetable crops are warm-weather crops, and are killed by light frosts. Pea is a notable exception, thriving under early season and cool weather conditions, though it is killed by heavy frost. Also, though not often grown in the United States, and principally a home garden crop in Canada, faba bean is commonly grown in the northern regions of Europe. The legume vegetables are annual crops. The most commonly grown bean crops, snap bean and lima bean, are native to Central America. Pea and cowpea (blackeyed pea) likely originated in Asia. In the United States, snap beans are quite popular, both in fresh and processed form. Florida and California lead in the production of fresh market beans, Minnesota and Wisconsin in processing pea. Cowpea production occurs principally in the southeastern states where historically it was quite important because it remained productive through the long summer months when most other vegetable crops failed. In Canada, pea is a more important crop than is bean, and Ontario and Quebec lead in the production of these crops. The legumes are cultivated for their seeds or seed pods. The below-ground seed attacking maggots, Delia spp., can be important pests under cool weather conditions. The key pest of bean in many areas is Mexican bean beetle, Epilachna varivestris Mulsant. Pea is quite susceptible to infestation by pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum Shinji. Cowpea is plagued by cowpea seed beetles (weevils), Callosobruchus spp., and cowpea curculio, Chalcodermus aenus Beheman, and southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (Linnaeus). Locally, a number of other pests can be important, particularly thrips, leafminers, leafhoppers, and flea beetles.

Beet and Related Crops (Family Amaranthaceae, Formerly Chenopodiaceae) (Beet, Beetroot, Chard, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Quinoa)

Beet apparently originated in the Mediterranean region, and spinach in Iran. Beet and its relatives are biennial crops, requiring more than 1 year but less than 2 to complete their natural life cycle. They are grown as annuals when cultivated as vegetables. Though originally grown entirely for its foliage, cultivars of beets with edible below-ground portions (the edible root is mostly thickened stem material) became popular in the Europe beginning about 1800. Beet, once popular in North America, has declined greatly in popularity. Chard has never been an important crop, and remains relatively obscure. Spinach is not very popular, but commercial production is stable. Most commercial cultivation of beets in the United States occurs in the Great Lakes area, but spinach production is more western in distribution, from Arkansas and Texas to California. In Canada, these crops are grown primarily in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. In home gardens, these crops thrive nearly everywhere. The principal pests are green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer) and beet and spinach leaf miner, Pegomya spp. In the west, beet leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus (Baker), can be very damaging.

Cabbage and Related Crops (Family Brassicae, Formerly Cruciferae) (Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese Cabbage, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Radish, Rutabaga, Turnip)

Brassicaceous or cruciferous vegetables, often called cole crops, are generally grown for their leaves. These are cool-season crops, and tolerate light freezes and even brief heavy freezes, but prolonged deep freezes are fatal. Though naturally biennials, they are grown as annuals. Cabbage and its many forms originated along the shores of Europe; mustard and radish are from Asia. Some are popular foods in North America, others are of regional significance. Perhaps the most interesting vegetable in this group is broccoli, which has become popular only since the 1950s. Cauliflower is a moderately important crop that is increasing in popularity. Cabbage and turnip, once popular in the United States, have declined in importance, though cabbage remains a significant crop. Rutabaga is an important dietary element in Canada, but not in the United States. Collards, and to a lesser degree kale, are popular vegetables in the southeastern states. In the United States, commercial production of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts is concentrated in California. California and Florida are the primary producers of radish. Cabbage is produced widely. In Canada, Ontario, and Quebec are the important producers of these crops. In home gardens, these crops are produced throughout North America. The principal pests of cabbage and its closest relatives include the root maggots, Delia spp.; cabbage aphid, Brevicoryne brassicae (Linnaeus); diamondback moth, Plutella xylostella (Linnaeus); cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner); and imported cabbageworm, Pieris rapae (Linnaeus). Mustard and radish tend to be plagued more by green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer).

Carrot and Related Crops (Family Apiaceae, Formerly Umbelliferae) (Carrot, Celery, Celeriac, Chervil, Cilantro, Fennel, Parsley, Parsnip)

The apiaceous (umbelliferous) vegetables are biennial, but are grown as annuals. They require cool weather to develop properly. Most survive heavy frost but are killed by prolonged freezing weather. The major crops of this group, carrot and celery, originated in the Mediterranean region. Carrot and parsnip are grown for their root, celery, celeriac and fennel for the swollen stem bases, and parsley and cilantro for their foliage. These crops are grown widely in the United States, in both northern and southern locales, but California dominates commercial production. In Canada, commercial production occurs predominately in Quebec and Ontario. Carrot and celery have long been popular vegetables. Parsnip once was an important crop because it could be stored well during the winter months, and could even be left in the soil during freezing weather. While Canadians and Europeans retain a fondness for this crop, Americans rarely consume it. Parsley retains its utility in the American diet, but cilantro is rapidly growing in popularity as Mexican and Asian recipes gain broader acceptance. Fennel is similarly growing in popularity, but is yet a minor crop awaiting discovery by the American palate. Chervil is rarely grown in North America, and different types are grown for their root and foliage. In some areas, carrot weevil, Listronotus oregonensis (LeConte), and carrot rust fly, Psila rosae (Fabricius), are important pests, and leafhoppers sometimes transmit aster yellows disease. American serpentine leafminer, Liriomyza trifolii (Burgess), is often the most serious threat to commercially grown celery.

Lettuce and Related Crops (Family Compositae) (Artichoke, Celtuce, Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Lettuce, Radicchio)

Lettuce is an immensely popular vegetable. Among vegetables grown in the United States, it surpasses all other vegetables except for potato in area of land devoted to production and in crop value. Canada lacks the warm-weather production areas found in the United States, so it is not as important a commercial crop there. It is popular among Canadian consumers and much lettuce is imported from the United States. California and Arizona dominate commercial production in the United States; Quebec is the major producer in Canada. Lettuce apparently originated in Europe or Asia, and has been grown for over 2000 years. Lettuce is grown everywhere in North America for home consumption, and despite the apparent concentration of lettuce production in few states or provinces, specialty lettuces are grown around many large metropolitan areas for local consumption. Lettuce and most related crops are grown for their leaves, though in the case of celtuce the stem is eaten. Lettuce and related crops are cool-season annuals. Although killed by heavy frost, these crops are also susceptible to disruption by excessive heat. Hot weather causes lettuce to flower and become bitter tasting. Several insects are important pests of lettuce. Aster leafhopper, Macrosteles quadrilineatus Forbes, is an important vector of aster yellows in some production areas. Several species of aphids may be damaging, though green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer), generally is most important. Numerous caterpillars such as corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie), and cabbage looper, Trichoplusia ni (Hübner), threaten the lettuce crop.

Artichoke, more correctly known as globe artichoke, is a thistle-like plant grown for the edible blossom bud. It is one of only a few vegetable plants grown in North America as a perennial, with new growth arising from the roots annually. Like some other perennials, it can be grown with some success as an annual crop by planting roots, but this is not a common practice. Although artichoke can be grown over a broad geographic area it is not cold-hardy. Commercial production is limited to the California coast, where the cool, moist climate favors its growth. It is not a popular vegetable, and considered by many to be a luxury vegetable. The origin of artichoke appears to be the Western Mediterranean region of Europe. A similar plant grown for the leaf stalks is cardoon; this plant is not grown commercially in North America. The key pest of artichoke is artichoke plume moth, Platyptilia carduidactyla (Riley), though aphids such as artichoke aphid, Capitophorus elaeagni (del Guercio); and bean aphid, Aphis fabae Scopoli, can be quite damaging at times.

Okra (Family Malvaceae)

Okra is thought to be native to Africa and is an important crop in tropical countries. It is also an important element of southern cooking because it is one of the few vegetables that remains productive throughout the long summer of the southeast. It is an annual plant and is killed by light frost. Okra is grown for the seed pod which, like snap bean, is harvested before it matures. It is unusually tall for a vegetable crop, often attaining a height of 2 m. It is a relatively minor vegetable crop from a national perspective and so production statistics are infrequent. Commercial production in the United States occurs in the southeast from South Carolina to Texas. The pods are subject to attack by several pests, with the most damaging being red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta Buren; southern green stink bug, Nezara viridula (Linnaeus); and leaffooted bugs, Leptoglossus spp.

Onion and Related Plants (Family Amaryllidaceae, Formerly Alliaceae) (Chive, Garlic, Leek, Onion, Shallot)

Onion and its relatives are biennial or perennial plants, but cultivated as annuals. These have long been important crops, with use of onion documented for nearly 5000 years. Their origin is thought to be Asia. Onion is grown principally for the below-ground leaf bases, where a bulb is formed, but tops are also edible. They are tolerant of cool weather, but also thrive under hot conditions. Onion is cultivated widely in North America, though commercial production of the sweet varieties tends to be concentrated in southern areas, whereas the pungent varieties are cultivated at more northern latitudes. In the United States, leading producers are California, Washington, Texas, Colorado, New York, and Georgia. California also leads the nation in garlic production. Ontario and Quebec produce most of the onions grown in Canada. The key pests of onion are onion thrips, Thrips tabaci Lindeman, and onion maggot, Delia antiqua (Meigen).

Rhubarb (Family Polygonaceae)

Rhubarb is one of the few perennial vegetable plants that is cultivated as a perennial. Its origin is Northern Asia, and its use can be traced back about 5000 years. Rhubarb thrives where summers are cool. The stalks or leaf petioles are used as food, though this vegetable is infrequently consumed. Most commercial production occurs in northern states such as Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, but it remains principally a home garden crop. There are few important pests of rhubarb, with rhubarb curculio, Lixus concavus Say, perhaps the most serious pest.

Squash and Related Crops (Family Cucurbitaceae) (Cucumber, Pumpkin, Squash, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, and Other Melons)

The cucurbit crops are important vegetables, though they vary in economic importance. They are annual plants, and are warmth-loving crops. All are cultivated for their fruit. Light frost will kill cucurbits, and even cool weather will permanently disrupt growth. Squash and pumpkin originated in Central and South America; cucumber, melons, and watermelon are from Africa or perhaps Asia. The summer squashes and cucumbers are stable in production or increasing slightly in importance, though squash is considered to be a minor vegetable crop and statistics are scant. The winter squashes are of decreasing significance in diet and commerce. Pumpkin is grown mainly as an ornamental plant, though some is processed for food. All types of melons are increasing in popularity and economic significance. Cucumbers are produced in many states, but Georgia and Florida lead in fresh market production and Florida in cucumbers for pickles. Texas, Florida, and Georgia are the leading producers of watermelon, but commercial production is widespread. Cantaloupe and other melon production is centered in California and Arizona. Cucurbit crops have some serious insect pests. Home garden plants are plagued by squash vine borer, Melittia cucurbitae (Harris); squash bug, Anasa tristis (De Geer); and in the southeastern states by pickleworm, Diaphania nitidalis (Stoll). Commercial crops are affected by whitefly and aphid plant virus vectors; Diabrotica spp. and Acalymma sp. cucumber beetles in the north central states; and pickleworm in the southeast.

Sweet Corn (Family Poaceae, Formerly Graminae)

Corn, which is usually known as maize outside of the United States, apparently was domesticated in Mexico, and perhaps has descended from a similar grain, teosinte. Corn originally was cultured because it was productive, a good source of carbohydrates and other nutrients, and the grain stored well. Sweet corn is a recent innovation that was first developed in the mid-1700s, and lacks the storage characteristics of the older types, or grain corn. Corn is grown for the seed, which are clustered in a structure called the ear. Sweet corn is a popular vegetable, though canned sweet corn is less popular than it once was due to the availability of frozen corn. The more recent availability of fresh corn that does not quickly lose its sweetness (supersweet cultivars) has increased demand for whole-year by fresh or frozen. Sweet corn is cultured widely in North America. In the United States, Florida, California, New York, and Georgia lead in fresh sweet corn production, whereas Minnesota and Wisconsin lead in processed sweet corn. In Canada, the provinces producing most of the sweet corn are Ontario and Quebec. There are many insects that feed on grasses, and many of them have moved from feeding on wild grasses to feeding on corn. Thus, native species such as corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie); fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith); and Diabrotica rootworms are the most serious pests. However, some introduced insects have also become frequent pests, including European corn borer, Ostrinia nubilalis (Hübner); Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman; and corn leaf aphid, Rhopalosiphum maidis (Fitch).

Sweet Potato (Family Convolvulaceae)

Sweet potato is an immensely important crop in some parts of the world, but not in North America, where acreage and consumption are declining. Sweet potato probably originated in Mexico and is well adapted to tropical growing conditions. Some moist-fleshed varieties of sweet potato are called yams, but yams are a separate species normally found in Polynesia, and infrequently seen in North America. A perennial crop, sweet potato is normally grown as an annual. It is cultivated for its tuber. Sweet potato cannot tolerate prolonged cool weather and perishes if exposed to light frost. Most of the domestically produced sweet potatoes are grown in North Carolina and Louisiana. Sweetpotato weevil, Cylas formicarius (Fabricius), is the most damaging pest of this crop, but anything that damages the tubers, including wireworms and flea beetle and cucumber beetle larvae, is economically threatening.

Tomato, Potato, and Related Plants (Family Solanaceae) (Eggplant, Pepper, Potato, Tomatillo, Tomato)

The solanaceous crops are among the most popular vegetable crops in North America. Potato ranks as the most valuable vegetable crop grown in the United States. In Canada, potato and tomato are first and second in importance, but warm-season crops such as pepper do not thrive in Canada. Among home gardeners, tomato is the most popular crop. Potato is grown for its tuber, and the other crops for their fruit. The origins of the solanaceous crops are diverse; eggplant originated in India, potato and tomato in Peru, tomatillo and pepper in Mexico or Guatemala. Tomato, tomatillo, pepper, and eggplant are warm-season perennials that are cultivated as annuals. Potato is a cool-season perennial cultured as an annual. Potato in most of North America is at risk from Colorado potato beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Say), but several aphids also are commonly damaging, particularly green peach aphid, Myzus persicae (Sulzer). In the west, beet leafhopper, Circulifer tenellus (Baker), can be damaging. Tomato is affected by silverleaf whitefly, Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring; corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea (Boddie); thrips-transmitted plant diseases, and many other pests. Home garden production, but not commercial production, is at risk from tobacco and tomato hornworms, Manduca spp. In southern production areas, pepper weevil, Anthonomus eugenii Cano, is the key pest of pepper.

Insects and insect relatives

With over 90,000 insect species inhabiting the United States and Canada, it might seem to be an impossible task to identify one specimen among so many possibilities. However, a surprisingly small number of insects injure plants, and even fewer damage vegetable crop plants. About 300 species are documented to be pests, though a few more are capable of damage, or feed on vegetables only rarely.

Insects are members of the group of animals collectively classified as Insecta. Insecta is a major class of animals, much like other major groups such as Reptilia (reptiles), Mammalia (mammals), Aves (birds), Pices (fish), and Gastropoda (snails and slugs). Insecta is subdivided into major groups called orders, and further subdivided into smaller groups of like organisms called families. Occasionally, further subdivisions are noted, such as subfamilies, but the most important designations, other than the order and family of insects, are the genus and species names. The genus and species designation (sometimes along with the original describer or species author) is also called the scientific name, and is used to provide universal recognition. Common names often vary among different regions of the world, and insects even acquire different names depending on the crop attacked, but scientific names are universally accepted and are changed rarely.

Frequency of Pests Among the Major Insect Orders

The occurrence of vegetable pests among the orders of insects is more or less proportional to the total number of species in each order. The approximate number of species in each major order inhabiting the United States and Canada, and the number of species within the corresponding order that are considered in this book are presented in Table 1.5.

Table 1.5

The order Hymenoptera, and to a lesser degree the order Diptera, contain many beneficial species (parasitoids and pollinators), accounting for their underrepresentation as vegetable pests.

Noninsect Vegetable Pests

There are several other groups of invertebrate animals that act like insects, sometimes inflicting chewing injury to plant foliage, fruit, and roots. Some even resemble insects in general appearance. Therefore, they are included in this treatment of insect pests. Best known among these other invertebrates are the snails, slugs, mites, millipedes, sowbugs, and pillbugs.

Order Blattodea—Cockroaches and Termites

Traditionally, the cockroaches are placed in the order Blattodea (or a similar name) whereas the termites are placed in the order Isoptera. However, it is now believed that they had common ancestors, even though they look quite different. Indeed, they have some common features. We think of termites as social insects that feed on wood. Some cockroaches also display elements of social behavior and can digest cellulose quite efficiently, thanks to microorganisms in their digestive system. So they are quite similar functionally, despite looking quite different. It is useful to think of cockroaches as primitive termites, or termites as a highly evolved group of cockroachs.

In North America, there are about 10 species that we would consider to be pest termites of vegetables, and 5 that would be considered pest species of cockroaches. They are basically tropical insects, so they are more commonly found in warmer regions. Cockroaches and termites are not nomally considered to be vegetable pests, but it would be more correct to consider them not to be major vegetable pests. In the tropics, termites do quite a lot of damage to crops, so we should not be entirely surprised to occasionally see damage to our crops by termites. Likewise, some cockroaches are known to nibble on leaves of plants, especially damaging seedlings.

Order Coleoptera—Beetles, White Grubs, and Wireworms

Coleoptera is the largest order of insects, containing about 40% of the known species in the class Insecta. The most distinctive feature is the structure of the wings. The front pair of wings, called elytra, are normally thickened and hard, providing protection for the thinner, membranous hind pair of wings. The hind wings are longer than the front wings, and fold beneath the forewings when the insect is not in flight. Beetles have chewing mouthparts, with well-developed mandibles. The immatures undergo complete metamorphosis, displaying egg, larval, and pupal stages before attaining adulthood. Their behavior and ecology are diverse. Larvae are soft bodied, and usually bear three pairs of legs on the thorax, and no prolegs on the abdomen. Larvae often develop in protected habitats such as within stems and soil, but some are found feeding on foliage. About 24,000 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Carabidae—Ground Beetles

Although the pest species are somber brown or black in color, carabids are sometimes brightly colored and metallic. They tend to be slightly flattened and long legged, with the elytra marked with long grooves and ridges. They vary widely in size. The antennae are thread-like. Nearly all carabids are beneficial, with both the larval and adult stages feeding on other insects. Larvae generally inhabit the soil. They have a thin, elongate body with a large head. About 2300 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Chrysomelidae—Leaf Beetles

This is a large and diverse family. Many are brightly colored. They range in length from 1.5 to 13 mm. The body tends to be oval and strongly convex. The antennae and legs are moderately long to short. The antennae are thread-like or slightly expanded apically, but never clubbed. About 1500 species of chrysomelids occur in the United States and Canada. As an aid to identification, two of the easily recognizable subfamilies are treated separately in the following.

Subfamily Alticinae—Flea Beetles

Flea beetles are a distinctive group of leaf beetles. They derive their name from the impressive leaping behavior of adults, which is made possible by muscular, greatly enlarged hind femora. These dark-colored beetles are small, usually less than 5 mm in length, sometimes considerably smaller. They may be metallic, or even brightly colored on occasion. They tend to leave small round holes in leaves when they feed, sometimes consuming only one surface of the leaf and leaving the other intact. Most larvae live below-ground, feeding on the roots of plants.

Subfamily Bruchinae—Pea and Bean Seed Beetles

Adult bruchids have a short, broad downturned snout bearing mouthparts at the tip. These beetles are small, measuring no more than 6.5 mm in length, and generally less than 5 mm. Their body tapers toward the head. The antennae are slightly expanded at the tips, or serrate. The elytra extend only about two-thirds the length of the abdomen, exposing the terminal segments. The larvae live within the seeds of legumes. They possess legs only during the first instar; thereafter they are legless, plump, and humpbacked. There are over 130 species of bruchids known from the United States and Canada.

Subfamily Cassidinae—Tortoise Beetles

Tortoise beetles are distinguished by the flaring of the pronotum and elytra, which largely cover the head and legs when viewed from above. This protected, armored, or turtle-like appearance is the basis for the common name of this group of leaf beetles. Many species are brightly colored, often orange or gold. Some species can be confused with lady beetles, family Coccinellidae. However, in lady beetles the head is clearly visible. Also, in lady beetles there are three tarsal segments on each leg, whereas tortoise beetles appear to have four tarsal segments. Larvae are surface feeders, found on leaves alongside adults. They bear numerous branched spines, and often carry debris or fecal material on their backs.

Other Subfamilies—Leaf Beetles

A few other subfamilies of Chrysomelidae contain pests, but they are not so readily distinguished as are the aforementioned subfamilies. For example, subfamily Criocerinae contains the asparagus-feeding species, Galucerinae contains the corn rootworms and cucumber beetles, and Chrysomelinae contains Colorado potato beetle. As with the other chrysomelids, the adults feed on above-ground plant tissue; larval-feeding behavior is variable. The adults are often brightly colored and moderate in size, often measuring 4–12 mm in length. The antennae are usually moderately long in length.

Family Coccinellidae—Lady Beetles

This family is best known for its beneficial, predatory members. However, a small number are plant feeders. Most lady beetle species are brightly colored and spotted, but their general pattern is misleading; not only are some important predators spotless, but the spot pattern varies greatly even within a species, reducing its diagnostic value. The legs are short or moderately long, and bear only three tarsal segments. The antennae are clubbed. The body is strongly convex, almost hemispherical in shape. There are about 400 species known from the United States and Canada. The plant feeding species have larvae which bear large branched spines.

Families Curculios, Weevils, and Brentidae—Weevils

The members of this family are distinguished by their elongated snout, which bears mouthparts at the tip. The elbowed, clubbed antennae are attached at about the midpoint of the snout. The body form varies among species, but is usually elongate-oval. These beetles tend to be moderate in size, ranging from 3 to 12 mm, but sometimes considerably larger. They usually are dark in color, with the elytra attaining the tip of the abdomen. This latter character is useful for distinguishing curculionids from bruchids. The plump larvae lack legs, and normally are found burrowing within plant tissue. Over 2600 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Elateridae—Click Beetles and Wireworms

Click beetles are elongate, parallel-sided, and usually relatively flattened in appearance. The pronotum is relatively large, and as wide as the thorax. They bear a structural mechanism that allows them to flex rapidly, producing a clicking noise. The head is usually hidden below the pronotum. The antennae are usually serrate, but not clubbed. The elytra bear ridges and grooves. These beetles usually are obscurely colored, often brown and black. The beetles are usually moderate or large in size, measuring 12–30 mm in length. Although the adults are phytophagous, it is the larval stage, known as wireworms, that is most destructive. The larvae are slender (hence the name wireworm), round in cross section, hard-bodied, and shiny. They feed on the roots of plants. About 900 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Meloidae—Blister Beetles

These elongate, narrow-bodied beetles are unusual in that their elytra are soft and flexible. The pronotum is narrower than the head and the thorax. The tips of the elytra tend to diverge. The legs and antennae are long and thread-like. Blister beetles are moderate to large in size, measuring 12–25 mm in length. The adults feed on foliage and blossoms but the larvae live below-ground where they feed on insects; the common species feed on the egg pods of grasshoppers. About 310 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Nitidulidae—Sap beetles

These beetles tend to be small to moderate in size, less than 12 mm in length. They are oval in shape, and often distinguished by short elytra which expose the terminal abdominal segments. Also, the antennae are distinctly clubbed. Both larvae and adults feed on decaying fruit. About 185 species occur in the United States and Canada.

Family Scarabaeidae—Scarab beetles and white grubs

The most distinctive feature of scarab beetles is the shape of the antennae. The three terminal segments are expanded into plate-like or finger-like structures that can be closed to form a club. Many species have long, spiny legs. Scarab beetles vary widely in size, from 2 to over 100 mm. The May and June beetles are oval and strongly convex. Others, however, are more flattened, with a wide prothorax and an abdomen that tapers acutely toward the posterior end. Most species are drab in color, usually brown or black. Some, however, such as Japanese beetle, are brightly colored and metallic. The adults feed on above-ground foliage, blossoms, and fruit. Larvae are plump and C-shaped in general form, usually living below-ground on roots of plants. About 1400 species of scarabs live in the United States and Canada.

Family Tenebrionidae—Darkling beetles and false wireworms

Darkling beetles typically inhabit arid environments, particularly the western regions of North America. Adults tend to be long-legged with a hump-backed appearance. They generally are black in color. Their antennal structure is variable. Darkling beetles are easily confused with carabid beetles, but can be distinguished by their tarsal structure. Darkling beetles vary from 2 to 35 mm in length. About 1000 species occur in the United States and Canada. Although adults feed on plants, larvae are more destructive due to their tendency to attack seedlings. The larvae are called false wireworms because they are narrow and elongate in form, resembling wireworms in general appearance.

Order Diptera—Flies and maggots

The flies are notable in possessing only a single pair of wings. The wings are membranous. The second pair is reduced to a pair of small knobbed structures, called halteres, that function to provide balance. Flies tend to be small and fragile. The mouthparts are variable, but usually function to sponge up liquids or are needle-like and are used to pierce and suck up liquids. The antennae are variable. They undergo complete metamorphosis, displaying egg, larval, and pupal stages in addition to the adult, or fly, form. The larvae generally are worm-like and legless, and are called maggots. Maggots are usually quite featureless, but the anterior end is equipped with hook-like structures that are used to tear host tissue. Pupation occurs within the old larval exoskeleton (outer covering of the maggot) and is called a puparium to distinguish it from the pupa found in most other insects, and which lacks the larval covering. About 17,000 species of flies are known from the United States and Canada.

Agromyzidae—Leaf mining flies

These small black or grayish flies usually measure less than 2 mm in length, and are often marked with yellow. The wings lack color. Leafminers are best known for the winding mines or tunnels created by larvae as they feed between the upper and lower surfaces of leaf tissue. The typical mine is narrow, grows wider as the larva increases in size, but some species cause irregular, blotchy mines. About 190 species of Agromyzidae are known from the United States and Canada.

Drosophilidae—Pomace flies

These small fruit flies are also known as vinegar flies because they are attracted to fermenting fruit and vegetables. They are small in size, rarely exceeding 3 mm in length. The wings are colorless, broad, and have few veins. The antenna bears a hair (brista) that is generally plumose. About 120 species of Drosophilidae are known from the United States and Canada.

Ulidiidae—Picture-winged flies

These medium-sized flies attain a length of up to 12 mm. They have wings that are marked with broad bands of color. The fly’s body is often shiny or metallic in appearance. Larvae are found in fruits and roots, or on decaying tissue. Many species are not capable of injuring healthy plants, but are incorrectly implicated as being damaging because they are found in rotten tissue. About 125 species occur in the United States and Canada.

Psilidae—Rust flies

These small- to medium-sized flies measure 3–8 mm in length. They tend to be rather slender, and bear long antennae. Their wings are not colored. The only pest species is carrot rust fly, Psila rosae (Fabricius), which is covered with a dense coat of hairs, and larvae burrow in roots. Only 34 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Syrphidae—Flower flies

The adults of many species in this common family of flies are brightly colored, often black and yellow, and are sometimes mistaken for bees. Most species measure 10–20 mm in length, and their wings are not marked. The larvae of some species are predatory, and are often found feeding within colonies of aphids. A few species, however, feed on the below-ground portions of plants. The number of syrphid species inhabiting the United States and Canada is about 875.

Tephritidae—Fruit flies

These medium-sized flies often attain a length of 10–12 mm. Their wings are spotted or banded. Their larvae usually develop within fruit, and some species are severe fruit pests, especially in tropical areas. A few species mine leaves. About 280 species occur in the United States and Canada.

Order Hemiptera—Bugs

The suborders of Hemiptera include Heteroptera (water bugs, coreids, lygaeids, stink bugs, etc.), Cicadomorpha (cicadas, spittlebugs, leafhoppers, etc.), and Sternorrhyncha (white flies, aphids, scales, mealybugs, psyllids, etc.). Other taxa are possible.

The Hemiptera are distinguished from other group of four-winged insects by the presence of long piercing-sucking mouthparts in the form of a beak that originates at the front of the head. In addition, the basal portion of the front pair of wings (the corium) is thickened and usually without veins, whereas the apical portion is thin, membranous, and normally bears veins. The hind wings are entirely membranous and also bear veins. The wings normally are held flat over the back when the insects are at rest, not angled or roof-like. Insects in the order Hemiptera can be confused with insects in the order Cicadomorpha and Sternorrhyncha which also possess tubular piercing-sucking mouthparts. In these taxa, however, the mouthparts originate at the back of the head rather than the front of the head, and the entire front wing is membranous. Many Hemiptera have scent glands that produce strong odors. Some species possess short wings, or are wingless. Not all Hemiptera feed on plants; many are predatory, feeding on other insects. Metamorphosis in Hemiptera is incomplete, with the adult stage preceded by the egg and nymphal stage, but the pupal stage lacking. The immatures, or nymphs, greatly resemble the adults in form, though lacking fully developed wings. Their food and habitat is the same as in the adult stage.

Family Coreidae—Leaffooted and squash bugs

These bugs tend to be fairly large, usually 10–30 mm, and dark colored. If disturbed they tend to produce a foul-smelling odor. The antennae and mouthparts each bear four segments. The legs are long, and are flattened in some species. The membranous portion of the forewings bear six or more veins. They tend to be dull colored, usually brown or black. Only a few of the approximately 120 species occurring in the United States and Canada are destructive to vegetables.

Family Cydnidae—Burrower bugs

Burrower bugs are oval, resembling stink bugs in general body form, though they lack the elongate lateral lobes of the pronotum usually present in true stink bugs, family Pentatomidae. The scutellum of burrower bugs is enlarged, though not as large as found in the negro bugs, family Thyrecoridae. Perhaps the most distinctive feature is the numerous spines on the tibiae, which likely aid in burrowing through the soil, its major habitat. There are about 35 species in North America. Most are small, less than 8 mm in length, and blackish in color. They are nocturnal, and uncommonly observed except at lights. Only one species, Pangaeus bilineatus (Say), is known as a pest.

Family Lygaeidae—Seed bugs

Lygaeid bugs resemble coreids, but usually are small, often 4–12 mm in length. Sometimes they are colorful. As suggested by the common name, most species are seed feeders, though some suck plant sap or are predatory. The species damaging vegetables are less than 5 mm in length. The antennae and mouthparts (beak) each bear four segments. The membranous portion of the front wing bears only 4–5 veins, a character that is useful for distinguishing them from the Coreidae. In some species, the femora of the front legs are enlarged. About 300 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Miridae—Plant bugs

These common bugs tend to be narrow-bodied and elongate. They are moderate in size, measuring 4–10 mm in length. They are soft-bodied relative to most other bugs. The antennae and mouthparts (beak) each consist of four segments. The veins at the tips of the forewings are few in number, forming semicircular loops originating and ending in the thickened basal portion of the wing (the corium), rather than divergent or parallel veins terminating at the wing margin. Also, the apical portion of the corium is triangular, and separated from the rest of the corium by a groove. Mirids are normally plant feeders, but some feed opportunistically on insects.

Family Pentatomidae—Stink bugs

The stink bugs derive their name from disagreeable odors which are produced when the bugs are handled. They are also known as shield bugs, a reflection of their overall shape, and a more distinguishing character than their odor. These bugs are moderate to large in size, usually 6–23 mm in length. Stink bugs possess a triangular structure behind the prothorax and at the base of the wings known as a scutellum; it reaches to the midpoint of the abdomen or beyond. The number of mouthpart (beak) segments is 4, and the number of antennal segments is 5. Stink bugs may be plant feeders, especially seed feeders, or predators. The predatory species tend to have a thick beak, and the phytophagous species have a thin beak. There are about 250 species in the United States and Canada.

Family Thyreocoridae—Ebony bugs

These small oval bugs resemble stink bugs, and are often confused with beetles. They measure only 3–6 mm in length and possess a greatly enlarged scutellum that covers most of the abdominal segments and wings, superficially resembling the elytra found on beetles. They usually are black in color. The antennae consist of five segments. Only about 30 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Tingidae—Lacebugs

Lacebugs are probably the most distinctive of the Hemiptera. The adults possess ornate, lacy wings consisting of many small cells. In some species, the pronotum is expanded and similarly ornate. The immatures are spiny. These are small insects, usually 3–5 mm in length. The antennae and mouthparts (beak) each consist of four segments. Most species feed on trees, and about 160 species are known from the United States and Canada.

The suborders Cicadomorpha and Sternorrhyncha consists of a diverse assemblage of insects that are difficult to characterize because superficially they are so different in general appearance. They are closely related to Hemiptera, and treated by some as members of that order. The mouthparts of these taxa are the piercing-sucking type, but instead of arising at the front of the head arise in basally, at the back of the head. Sometimes the mouthparts appear to originate between the base of the front pair of legs. Normally there are four wings of relatively uniform texture throughout, though in some the front wings are slightly thickened. When at rest, the wings are usually held angled or roof-like over the body, not flat over the back as is typically found in Hemiptera. The antennae may be short or bristlelike, or long and thread-like. Metamorphosis is incomplete, with the egg, nymphal, and adult stages present. Nearly 7000 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Aleyrodidae—Whiteflies

Whiteflies are small but distinctive insects. They rarely exceed 2–3 mm in length, and usually are entirely white in color. Veins are not apparent on the wings because they are covered with white scales. The antennae are usually fairly long, thread-like, and consist of seven segments. Whiteflies are tropical species, and most abundant in warm climates and in greenhouses. Because they reproduce rapidly and attain very high densities, and can transmit plant viruses, they can be quite damaging to vegetable crops. The nymphal stage is flattened, often not really resembling an insect, and certainly not resembling the adult. The nymph often produces waxy filamentous secretions; it generally is sedentary. About 100 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Aphididae—Aphids

Aphids are small to moderate in size, normally measuring 2–3.5 mm in length. They undergo complex life cycles, often alternating between winged and wingless generations and between perennial and annual host plants. Aphids usually occur in colonies, sometimes attaining very high densities. Most bear a pair of tubular structures called cornicles near the tip of the abdomen. They secrete from the anus sugary secretions that cause stickiness and discoloration on foliage. The thread-like antennae are moderate in length, and consist of three to six segments. Some species produce waxy secretions that obscure their general appearance, causing them to resemble tufts of cotton or other inanimate objects. Occasionally they live below-ground on roots, though generally they feed on leaves and young stem tissue. They are important as direct pests of vegetable crops due to the plant sap they ingest, but they also transmit plant viruses very effectively, which greatly exacerbates their economic impact. Nearly 1400 species are known from the United States and Canada.

Family Cicadellidae—Leafhoppers and Family Delphacidae—Planthoppers

These small- to medium-sized insects rarely exceed 12 mm in length and are narrow-bodied in shape. They generally have a sharp or bluntly pointed head, The wings are normally fully formed, extending the length of the abdomen, but occasionally they are short-winged. The front wings are slightly thickened. The antennae are thread-like, originating between the eyes in Cicadellidae and beneath the eyes in Delphacidae. These insects produce sound, but it is barely audible to humans. The leafhoppers and planthoppers are second only to aphids as important plant disease vectors. Leafhoppers are extremely diverse in North America, with over 2500 species known from the United States and Canada. Planthoppers, on the other hand, are few in number, with only about 145 species known from the same geographic area.


Mealybugs are oval, flattened insects that secrete waxy filamentous material over their body, sometimes making their identity difficult to determine. Many species also produce filaments around the periphery of the body, including particularly long filaments in the anal region that resemble tails. About 280 species are known from the United States and Canada, but are usually known as pests of weedy plants and ornamentals in greenhouses. Only pink hibiscus mealybug, Maconnellicoccus hirsutus (Green), is known to cause serious injury to vegetable crops in the field.


Psyllids are small insects, measuring 2–5 mm in length. They resemble aphids superficially, and cicadas upon close examination. In adults the antennae are long, consisting of 9–11 segments. The hind legs are stout and capable of producing long jumps. Their leaping ability is an important diagnostic character. The body of nymphs is flattened, with a short fringe of filaments along the periphery. This stage is sedentary. In the United States and Canada, about 260 species are known to occur. Few species are important to crops.

Order Hymenoptera—Ants, bees, sawflies, and wasps

The order Hymenoptera is diverse in appearance and biology. Hymenopterans bear two pairs of membranous wings. Most have chewing mouthparts. Often a significant constriction occurs between the thorax and the abdomen, producing a thread-like waist. A distinct ovipositor is present in many females. The order Hymenoptera contains many social insects such as ants and bees, which live in colonies, and also many solitary species. Some hymenopterans such as cicada killer wasps attain a large size, sometimes over 100 mm. In contrast, hymenopterans such as egg and thrips parasitoids are among the smallest insects, measuring about 0.2 mm in length. Most members of this order are not plant pests, rather serving to pollinate plants, scavenge detritus, recycle nutrients, or parasitize other insects. Note that although only a single species of ant is treated as a plant pest in this book, many other species are indirectly detrimental because they tend

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