Insect pests need to be monitored during summer months

West Texas summers are always tough, but this year it is especially hot and dry – tempting even the most dedicated gardener to hibernate inside the air conditioning and forget about the yard for a while. But one thing to keep on top of through the summer is scouting for insect pests. Drought can decrease some insect populations but there are still always plenty to go around even in dry years. Watch out for things like June bugs and chinch bugs in the lawn, spider mites and squash bugs in the vegetable garden, and lace bugs on lantana.

Spider mites are small and hard to see, and can seem to suddenly devastate tomatoes and other garden crops. Scout regularly to catch them before they get out of control. Take a magnifying glass to inspect underneath the leaves, and shake the plant over a white sheet of paper to check for tiny specks that move around. Spider mites are arachnids, not insects, so they are harder to control. But products like neem oil or insecticidal soap can help – and releasing beneficials such as predatory mites, lady bugs and green lacewings can help as well.