Carrot Pest Management
Carrots aren’t just salad toppers—they’re also great for soups, baked goods, and snacking. A variety of carrots grow in Florida, with the majority of them harvested during the winter months. While carrots have no major insect pests in Florida, soil pests such as wireworms and mole crickets are a concern for the state’s growers.
These thick, dark caterpillars become moths as adults, and they can be a problem during seedling establishment. Cutworms generally attack young seedlings at night and may cut the stem off. Preparing soil before planting may help control cutworms.
Wireworms have slender, shiny hard bodies and can stay in the soil for one to five years. These sporadic pests are the larvae of click beetles and typically cause problems in organic soils rather than mineral soils. Wireworms can attack developing carrots directly or provide entry points for secondary rot-causing pathogens. Set up four to five bait stations (approximately six-inch-deep holes with untreated wheat and corn) four to five weeks before planting if wireworms are present in the soil.
Tawny Mole Cricket
The tawny mole cricket is one of the few pest mole crickets. Although mole crickets primarily feed on roots, they also feed on stems and leaves at night during warm, wet weather. Additionally, they create meandering tunnels in, around, and under developing root systems, damaging young seedlings. The most useful control measure is to apply soil insecticide before planting, but the parasitic nematode Steinernema scapterisci can also be an effective control agent.
Female adult leafminers are small flies with yellow abdomens. These insects insert their eggs in feeding punctures located on the plant’s upper leaf surfaces. When the eggs become larvae they feed between the upper and lower leaf surfaces, creating mines that become larger as the larvae grow. Healthy plants can typically tolerate leafminer damage, but heavy damage may cause leaf drop. Additionally, the exit holes in old mines could provide access for pathogens. Chemical control may be difficult because larvae are protected in the leaf during the feeding stage. The best option is to target small larvae.
Melon and Green Peach Aphids
Green peach aphids are the most reported aphid species in the state, but the melon aphid may also be found on carrots. These small soft-bodied insects pierce plant tissue with their needle-like mouthparts and suck out water and nutrients. Toxins in their saliva may cause foliage to curl and deform, and can also cause black sooty mold to grow because of the large amounts of honeydew left on plant surfaces. Aphids are biologically controlled by natural predators such as lady beetles and lacewings.
Adapted and excerpted from:
B. C. Larson and O. N. Nesheim, “Florida Crop/Pest Management Profiles: Carrots (CIR1234),” UF/IFAS Food Science and Human Nutrition Department (archived).
S. E. Webb, “Insect Management for Carrots (ENY-462),” UF/IFAS Entomology and Nematology Department (rev. 06/2013).