Common Summer Pests of the South

By Julie Bawden-Davis

The hot, often dry summer weather in the Southwest doesn't deter certain stalwart pests that dine on vegetable crops and flowers. The following pesky visitors are common at this time of year.*


Several species of the flea beetle exist in the southwest. This pest ranges from 1/16 to 1/4 inch long and boasts a variety of colors, including black, yellow and green. The creature's enlarged hind legs allow it to jump like a flea.1 The pest eats the foliage of a variety of crops, including beans, young corn and potatoes, as well as flowers, such as Mexican primrose and sunflowers. Flea beetle feeding gives plant leaves a tattered look, and excessive feeding can lead to plant death.

  • Designation: nuisance and harmful
  • Remedy: Keep the garden free of weeds, and prune dead and dying plant foliage to help prevent flea beetle establishment.


The white larva of this destructive pest is 1 1/4 inch long and feeds on sweet corn and popcorn plants. When young, the larva eats leaf surfaces, creating skeletonized areas on the foliage. It may also destroy the tip of the corn cob. As the larva matures, it begins boring into the corn stalks, causing breakage.2 The 1-inch-long, white adult moth does no damage to plants.

  • Designation: nuisance and harmful
  • Remedy: Control reoccurrence by removing all dead plant material after harvest, and then tilling the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.


This tiny pest, commonly referred to as the jumping plant louse, is often overlooked until damage has been done. The adult resembles a miniature cicada. It is 1/8 inch long, and dark gray and brown in color. The nymph is smaller. Both are able to jump from plant to plant to feed. When eating, the nymph injects a toxin, which causes plants to yellow and die.3 This psyllid attacks plants in the potato and tomato family, including eggplant and peppers.

  • Designation: nuisance and harmful
  • Remedy: If you think psyllids have invaded your garden, use yellow sticky traps to verify your suspicion. The yellow color lures the insects onto the sticky surface. These traps are available at home and garden centers.

*For a quick remedy for pests on non-food crops, treat with the wide-reaching Amdro Quick Kill Insect Killer for Lawn & Landscape Ready To Spray. Never use pesticides on edibles, unless the crop is specifically listed on the product label.

This ready-to-spray product kills more than 500 landscape pests, making it your go-to summer pest control for any region. Remedy time will vary, depending on the size of the garden or yard. Most control measures involve taking simple steps. Follow all product label recommendations to ensure the greatest chance of pest control.

Amdro Quick Kill is a registered trademark of Central Garden & Pet Company.


1. National Gardening Association Editors, "Flea Beetles,"

2. F.B. Peairs, "Stalk Borers in Colorado Field Corn," Colorado State University Extension, October 2014.

3. W.S. Cranshaw, "Potato or Tomato Psyllids," Colorado State University Extension, June 2013.