Farmers facing pests after a mild winter

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Planting season is in full swing and the pesky bugs are out in full force.

Officials encourage farmers to be extra cautious this season.

"They're always a problem, but they will be more of a problem this year because we had such a mild winter," Jackson County Horticulture Agent Matt Lollar said.

Greenwood field pea farmer Lonnie Gilbert said stink bugs have been the biggest threat to his crops.

"They will basically just beat up the side of the legume of the pods and by them sticking and picking the outside of the pod, it will then cause the peas on the inside of the pod to become spotted," Gilbert said.

He said he tries to spray his insecticides as early as possible to keep pests away.

One insect expected to cause problems for farmers is the Cowpea Curculio. It feeds on crops like black eyed peas by injecting its eggs into the pea.

"The larva hatch out of the eggs and they fall to the ground and then that's where they become more of the adult insects," Lollar said.

Lollar said that with each new generation, Cowpea Curculio become even more resistant to insecticides.

"One important control measure is to make sure you have the weeds suppressed both in the field and then around the field," he said.

Lollar said you can also control these pests by trap cropping. That's planting a crop to attract pests away from your main crop.