Vegetable production in Arkansas is relatively small when compared to other agronomic crops and when compared to vegetable production along the east and west coasts of the U.S. However, commercial production of several vegetable crops has recently increased in and around Arkansas. These increases include cowpea, watermelon, snap beans, sweet corn, spinach, greens, eggplant and others. In addition, tomato has long been one of the major vegetable crops in Arkansas and remains an important crop. Each of these production increases has been driven by market expansion. Local canners have now been combined into the largest privately held vegetable canner in the U.S. and locally headquartered discount stores have recently expanded to include the sales of food. As a result, the need for locally produced vegetables has greatly increased. The estimated 300,000 home gardens in Arkansas also represent a major source of vegetable production.
Insects are a major threat to vegetable production. Vegetable plants can be killed by insects; yield and quality reduced and even the presence of the insect in a commercial vegetable field can result in substantial loss for the vegetable processor. Thus, management of insects is a necessity in commercial vegetable production in Arkansas. And while not as necessary in the home garden, insect management often results in improved production.
Several publications have addressed insect identification, biology and management of vegetable insects and several are listed in the reference section. None, however, have dealt with vegetable insects of the south-central U.S. Although, insect species are often similar in different regions of the U.S., their biologies often differ and the approaches at their management also differ.
The objective of this website is to provide the vegetable producer of Arkansas and the surrounding area with a practical means of identifying and managing vegetable insects. It is directed primarily at the commercial producer but will hopefully be applicable to the home gardener. When using the information contained within this website to manage insects, the reader should be aware of the variability inherent in insects. Insect biology in north Arkansas will differ somewhat from the biology of the same insect species that occurs in south Arkansas. Management approaches must thus be adjusted. Also, many of the specific descriptions of insecticide usage have been avoided. While use of insecticides remains the backbone of commercial vegetable production, their use patterns are continually changing due to label changes and changes in the insect’s susceptibility. When a specific insecticide is mentioned, its label should be checked before use. Insecticide labels and updates are available on the web at CDMS.NET and in the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service publication MP144. Finally, home gardeners and commercial applicators have very different arrays of available insecticides. Users of these insecticides are responsible for following label recommendations.