Common Pests of the South

By Kelly Roberson

If you live in the South, then you are no stranger to insect and animal pests. However, it can be difficult to identify the culprit, and how to get rid of them once you do. Here are the usual suspects, and some tips on how to vanquish them from your lawn and garden.*


A danger to plants, animals and people, fire ants are particularly invasive in areas with warm climates, such as Florida and Texas. They deliver painful bites that sting, transmitting venom that can be deadly. Fire ants create mounds and can kill trees and non-nuisance wildlife, while carpenter ants, if left untreated, can tunnel into wood-framed homes and create structural problems.


Tomato hornworms: A caterpillar with a signature “horn" on its head, the tomato hornworm makes quick work of plants, particularly vegetables in the Solanaceous family, including tomatoes. Tomato hornworms are long—about four inches—and transform into moths. Because tomato hornworms eat both leaves and fruit, they can decimate crops.

  • Designation: nuisance and harmful
  • Remedy: Pick hornworms off plants by hand, and then drown them in a bucket of soapy water; keep your garden healthy and weed-free; and encourage beneficial insects, such as parasitic wasps, by including plants suitable for the region and maintaining a healthy landscape.

Hornworms, if left unchecked, can quickly decimate tomato plants.


Hard to catch and voracious, grasshoppers make quick meals of plants and flowers.

  • Designation: nuisance and harmful
  • Remedy: Use Sevin products as directed. Cover lawns and the leaves of vegetables, fruit, ornamental shrubs and flowers with Sevin Dust, and use Sevin Ready-to-Spray for spot treatment. Apply row covers to protect plants until they are healthy, and encourage an opportune growing environment with mulch, proper moisture and by controlling weeds.

* Remedy time and difficulty will vary by the size of the garden or yard; most involve taking simple steps. Follow all product label recommendations to ensure the greatest chance of solving the problem.