Archive for March, 2013

Southern Army Worms – Spodoptera eridania

Southern Army Worms – Spodoptera eridania
By George Giltner, Master Gardener

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] A Blog brought to you by the LSU AgCenter, Beauregard Parish, LA

1 armyworm

Southern Army Worm

These caterpillars are famous for their voracious appetites for veggies, fruit, field and ornamental crops.  Common garden vegetables attacked include sweet potatoes, cabbage, beets, carrots, collards, cowpeas, okra, peppers, tomatoes, watermelons, and peanuts.  However their favorite plants are pigweed, Amaranthus spp., and pokeweed, Phytolacca americana.  They may start in an area with these weeds, then venture into surrounding crops in the garden.

The southern army worm caterpillars can be identified with their smooth, light brown to reddish brown heads and a maximum length around 3.5 cm.  The larvae are green or blackish green with a white dorsal stripe and yellow lateral stripes which are broken by a dark spot on the first abdominal segment.  The smooth caterpillars are found on the underside of leaves.  Their most active period is at night.  The larvae cycle  time is two to three weeks.  Then the larvae pupate in the soil for two weeks.

The adult moths are about 3.5 cm in wing span.  The forewings are gray and brown with irregular back and dark brown markings.  The wing pattern is highly variable, but the hind wings are whitish.  The green to tan eggs are laid in clusters, then covered with scales from the female moth.  They hatch in 5 days.

2 army worm

Damage to Sweet Potato leaves

Natural predators are wasp parasitoids including Braconidae, Ichneumonidae, and Eulophidae.  Predatory stinkbugs also prey on armyworms. Broad range insecticides may damage these natural predator populations. Caterpillars are also susceptible to the fungus, Beauveria bassiana.

Southern armyworms are best controlled early with foliar insecticides.  Botanical insecticides are not very effective.  “DiPel DF” and “Deliver” are two Bt products to try.  Use at higher rates.  Combinations of diatomaceous earth and pyethrins, “Diatect V”, are effective.  Spinosads like “Entrust” work but do not make applications less than 7 days apart or apply more than 4 times per crop.  Additional treatments for control can be found at

Our experience with sweet potatoes is to begin control early or suffer extensive crop damage.

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Mr. Jimmy’s Honey Harvest

LSUAC4C72-80px[1] Brought to you by the LSU AgCenter in Beaurgard Parish, LA

Yesterday I removed the upper super (per my mentor Richard Hebert) and moved the inner cover, containing a one way device inserted in inner cover hole, just above the second brood chamber and replaced the upper super and top cover.  This is suppose to allow bees under top and upper super to go into the upper brood chamber and not be able to get back into the inner cover space between it and the top.  I went back today and eureka it worked, all but about a dozen bees and at least a dozen or more of hive beetles were under top lid.  So this is recommendation for this device.  I killed all the beetles in the upper super, smoked it good to remove all bees and took it to my shop to sling.  The enclosed photos show the slinging process from removing capping from upper super frames to putting the honey in jars.DSCF1042

Set up for honey extraction.

First I set up things with newspaper on floor and decapped the frames and slung the honey from 6 frames, the two on either end did not have any honey in them, only the six in the middle.  Opened the valve in the extruder and allow honey to flow through a filter into a five gallon bucket, then opened valve in 5 gallon bucket and filled bear jars and others.  I figure I got about 3/4 gallon of wonder tasting honey.  Got lots of sample to try.  This hive was started in April 25 th of 2012.  The hive now has a top, inner cover, and two large brood boxes with base.  Will let it go now till early spring and start feeding again,  I may go in to see if beetle population has increased.  Again this is my good friend Richard Hebert Hive and his recommendations.  Its always good to have an expert beekeeper to keep us novice fumblers on the straight and narrow.  All my equipment came from Mann.


Mr. Jimmy uncapping his frame before placing in extractor.


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Hurricane Preparedness in Beauregard Parish

Hurricane Preparedness in Beauregard Parish

By Keith Hawkins, County Agent

             Even though we have several months before hurricane season, Beauregard Parish residents should still prepare for a hurricane event well before another Rita-clone arrives here. The LSU Agcenter has Disaster Information Resources to help citizens prepare for a hurricane before it arrives and after it leaves.

Most of this information is for homeowners, both rural and town. Here is a listing of handouts and booklets available at no charge:

  1. Replacing Important Papers,
  2. Navigating Post-Disaster Mortgage Issues,
  3. Cleaning Flood-Damaged Homes,
  4. Filing Insurance Claims,
  5. Good News about Your Homeowner’s Insurance Policy,
  6. Mold Removal Guidelines for Your Flooded Home,
  7. Storm Recovery Guide for Homeowners (a booklet), and
  8. After the Storm, A Guide to Help Children Cope with the Psychological Effects of a Hurricane (a booklet)
  9. Dealing with Storm-Damaged Trees in the Landscape, and
  10. Operating a Chainsaw Safely.

Another part of addressing hurricane issues in rural parts of the Parish is how to care for livestock animals. The LSU AgCenter has specific information to help livestock owners:

  1. Water Requirements and Safety for Cattle Following a Disaster,
  2. Feeding Cattle Following a Disaster,
  3. Disaster Readiness for Horse Owners, and
  4. Disaster Readiness for Goat and Sheep Producers.

All of the documents in listed in this article are stocked ready for handing out to Beauregard Parish citizens at the AgCenter office in DeRidder at 203 West Third Street, across the street from the Beauregard Parish School Board. More information is also accessible online at  Feel free to call our office at 463-7006 or email Keith Hawkins, County Agent, at

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Strange Tree Felling Strategy

Strange Tree Felling Strategy

By Keith Hawkins SW LA Area Extension Forester

     In my work for the LSU AgCenter as an Extension Forester, I cover several parishes in southwest Louisiana, including Jefferson Davis Parish. At a meeting a while back, I visited with Allen Hogan,  County Agent in Jeff Davis at that time, to ask about any tree and forestry issues. He had none at that time, but shared with me a strange question from a citizen.

This citizen was interested in “spiking” or killing a tree by chemical means. Allen shared with him how to do it.  During the course of their visit, Allen asked why he wanted to kill it. This gentleman wanted to kill it so that he could fell it.  This reason begs the question, “why not just cut the live tree down?”  Allen went to explain that felling a live tree is safer than felling a dead tree because tops and branches of a dead tree might break off during the sawing. The broken parts of the tree could cause blunt or penetrating traumas.

Allen advised this person correctly because the AgCenter, like other agencies, share a concern for public safety.  Dr. Niels de Hoop, an Extension Forestry Specialist, wrote a flyer entitled, “Operating a Chainsaw Safely” as part of a “Disaster Information Sources” series of publications after the evil twin sisters of Katrina and Rita. Still, this flyer has valuable information for regular chainsaw use.

One section of this flyer is devoted to “Personal Protective Equipment”, and describes the various items a sawyer should have to stay protected from chainsaw injuries. I can personally attest to the benefit of chaps, which protect the legs from violent lacerations. As a forestry student during a thinning exercise, the chaps effectively kept the saw off my left leg. I also have a negative example. I was merely cutting a few saplings with chaps and could not be troubled with the inconvenience of putting on a pair of chaps. As I was cutting, the saw got on my right thigh. Fortunately, I only had a flesh wound and holey jeans. Still, that incident was a wakeup call to always use chaps, even for those seemingly trivial tasks with a chainsaw.

Another item is a hard hat which Allen’ citizen would have definitely needed if he had tried to fell a snag, or a dead tree, would be a hardhat. Dead or live tree, a hard hat is vital. Other important safety equipment includes safety goggles, ear protection, gloves, and high top boots.

Other topics in this flyer address how to safely deal with kickback, fuel handling, and cutting.  This flyer is available from offices of the LSU AgCenter at no charge. This flyer is also available online at Enter “chainsaw safety” in the site’s search engine to find and then print this page. One use of this flyer is to make copies and use those copies to hand out at safety meetings for personnel who occasionally or regularly use chainsaws.

If you have questions about forestry or trees, feel free to contact Keith Hawkins at 337-463-7006 or email at  Finally, feel free to visit this website: for other articles relating to forestry and natural resources.

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2013 SW LA Forestry Forum Topics Included Deer Food Plots, Southern Pine Beetle & Eucalyptus Trees.

2013 SW LA Forestry Forum Topics Included Deer Food Plots, Southern Pine Beetle & Eucalyptus Trees.

Keith Hawkins, SW Area Forester

     The SW LA Forestry Association (SWLAFA) held its Annual Meeting in conjunction with the LSU AgCenter’s Forestry Forum on March 9th at the Exhibition Hall of the Beauregard Parish Fairgrounds. Mr. Richard Meaux, President, greeted attendees and awarded a retirement plaque to Mr. Steve McCorquodale for his 17 years of service as a Board Member of the SWLAFA.


Mr. Buck Vandersteen showing new Louisiana forestry license plate at SW Forestry Forum.

     Mr. Buck Vandersteen, Louisiana Forestry Association, showed an example of a “Prestige” license plate recognizing Louisiana forestry. The proceeds of the license plate support the operations of the LA Office of Forestry. Vandersteen also described the legislative and legal issues affecting forest landowners at both the state and Federal levels.

     The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) of the USDA sent Mr. Corby Moore, District Conservationist, to describe the various Federal programs that support sound forest management.

Dr. Don Reed, a Wildlife Biologist with the LSU AgCenter, spoke at length about the installation of effective deer food plots. Some of the food plot crops included: legumes, preferred grasses, corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. Part of the presentation included the timing of planting for optimal deer browse. Reed also described the need for a small exclusion fence to monitor the effectiveness of a food plot. More details about deer food plots are available from LSU AgCenter Publication #2843, Food Plot Planting for White-Tailed Deer in Louisiana by Dr. Reed.


This slide provides some management insights of SPB.

     Because Southern Pine Beetle (SPB) has been inactive for several years, forest landowners heard from Dr. Tim Showalter, Forest Entomologist with the LSU AgCenter, apprised with the most current information about SPB. Showalter said it is too soon to know how SPB populations might behave because it is too early for the results of aerial surveys and SPB trapping. He did report that Mississippi had 1000 SPB spots during the 2012 season. Showalter provided the audience the necessary information about SPB biology and effects. This presentation also supplied treatment recommendations for mitigating SPB infestations.

     Beauregard Parish is home to hundreds of acres of commercial eucalyptus trees, and Dr. Mike Blazier, Forestry Specialist with the AgCenter, updated the audience about this kind of forest management. Blazier said that growing eucalyptus resembles agriculture more than forestry because the intensive weed control during the first four years of the plantation. Blazier conducted herbicide trials in SW Louisiana and SE Texas where these trees will support the papermill of MeadWestvaco in Evadale, TX.  The rotation for eucalyptus entails 8 years after which the trees will be clearcut, and the sprouts will become the second rotation for another 8 years. After eight years, the tree heights will approach 70 feet.

The number of forest landowners, foresters and loggers was 64. These folks represented over 17,000 acres of forests. Respondents to an evaluation estimate that this event was worth an average of $580 of economic benefit per person.  One attendee wrote, “[This is] my 1st annual meeting. I thoroughly enjoyed the social, great talks and learned more & enjoyed the food.”

For more information about the AgCenter’s forestry programs, contact Keith Hawkins, County Agent, 337-463-7006. Also, you may also obtain regular forestry and wildlife updates by sending your request by email to

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By Emily Shirley, Advanced Master Gardener

     Some of the most popular warm season vegetables we plant include tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash, melons, beans and cucumbers. In this part of the country, we know that our average last frost date is around March 15th, so we should only plant outdoors after this date is past. It’s may even be better to wait an extra two weeks for the soil to warm up more. In my experience, plants that are planted two weeks afterward tend to be just as large, or larger, than those planted immediately after the last frost date. Keep in mind that just because it’s the last frost date it doesn’t mean that a frost can’t happen!  Remember, they call it an “average” last frost date.  As a gardener you must always keep an eye on the weather.

Cool season vegetables can be planted outdoors before the last frost date. We can grow most cool season plants at any time as long as the ground is not frozen – which rarely happens in this area, especially the last couple of years!  We began planting Snap peas in January and mid-February.  It was such a treat to have a couple of weeks of wonderful spring-like weather this winter (January, 2013) that gave us an opportunity to get our beds ready for early planting.   Kale, spinach, and chard could have been planted out in mid-February and can be successively planted until the days get too warm. The key is to start a new crop every two weeks to have a steady supply.  Lettuce is a tender plant and shouldn’t be planted too early.  A month to six weeks before the last frost date usually works well in this area. Carrots can be planted in the garden about a month before the last frost while onions and their family should be given about 2 months if grown from seed.

Keep in mind that as gardeners the weather is the ultimate decision maker. The weather can make or break a garden.  When it “breaks” the garden because we planted too early, we often have to do it all over again. (There is always the possibility of covering the plants if there is a late frost, but I don’t like to do that, so I wait.) The weather determines when we start our plants and how they grow. Pay close attention to the forecast and make adjustments according to what the forecasters say but also keep in mind what is normal may not always be normal.  I remember a couple of years when we had very warm springs and gardeners were able to start tomato plants almost a month early!  I still lean toward waiting on planting out my warm season vegetables because I’m always afraid of a late frost.  What are you planting this year?  What is your plan?  Oh, you haven’t made your plans yet?  Then you are one of those people that doesn’t have to feel guilty about the February/early March weather.  You can sit inside and say “It is a good thing I can’t work outside today because I’m working on my 2013 Garden Plan”.

While you are working on those plans there are a few things to remember.  When starting from seeds always check the seed packet if you are purchasing seed and check the number of weeks on the package.  We know our average last frost date in this area is about March 15th, so you would count back from that date to determine when to start your seed.  To be on the safe side, some people add a couple of weeks to that.  (If you are working with seed that you saved or that someone gave you, you may have to do a little more researching on the particular plant and variety since you will not have a seed packet to refer to.

Be cautious about buying early transplants from stores.  I know – they are out there and they look so fresh and healthy and you just want to get yours before anyone else, or before they are picked over and maybe even not cared for by garden center.  Just remember they are tempting you (and taking your money now), and they will also bring in more batches later when it is closer to the correct time to transplant (and take your money again).  Tomatoes and peppers do not need to be planted outdoors before the safe frost date.  Planting too early can lead to fungal diseases that will last throughout the season.  Covering and un-covering plants for weeks is way too much trouble for me.

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Hebert Hive – operating hive since April 2012 by Jimmy Earl Cooley

AgCenter letterhead

February 8th, 2013    Friday

Ref:  Hebert Hive – operating hive since April 2012

Shirley Hive – Now empty of bees but completely furnished as Hebert Hive

Five Frame Hive – Queen Raising

Queen Rearing Kit – ready to install in five frame hive

I opened the Hebert hive for inspection and to change the entrance to larger for the hive as I have noticed the bees collecting around the winter opening (small) now that they have begun to gather pollen.   I removed the top cover and the inner cover and the bees were very gentle and almost all were inside the hive and none in or under the inner or outer cover.  No beetles noted whatsoever.  See photos attached.  Smoked very little and started by removing the frame from the super that we replaced with new one when Richard Hebert last inspected the hive.   This frame is again completely clear of any activity and looks like the day we put it in the hive.  Removed the second thru the seventh frame in top super and inspected and saw various patterns or honey, brood, and pollen (I think).  There were just about as many bees as there were in January and all looked well to my inexperience eyes.  All the bees and activity was centered around the 4,5,6,7 frame or deep inside the super.  I did not remove all the frames in the super so did not look at lower brood box as all seemed well as far as I could see down to brood box.  I did notice several patches of comb, with larva and bees, about the size of golf ball and smaller.  Bees were completely covering these pieces and seemed attached to the top of the brood box frames and over to the associated inner side of the frame plastic.   There are several photos with this mass inside the box and others with the comb material removed and placed on a board for photographing.  What is this?  Queens or larva being born or what?  Should it be something to be concerned with?

In general all looked good and bees were fairly gentle – at 11am – but became more adjusted the further I went into the hive, and began to fly around my head but still no problem.  I lifted the brood box enough to rotate the entrance strip so a larger opening is now open for the spring and summer.  They seemed to enjoy this and immediately started using it to go in and out.  Think the small entrance for the winter was not limiting their activity into and out of the Hive.  Noted many bees with yellow pollen pouches going into the hive.  Would like to sit down with Richard and go over photos so I can understand what is going on and should I be doing something before we introduce the new queen in April 10. Out of necessity we will have to kill the existing queen when the new queen is placed in the hive.  Can we save her for another hive of someone else’s that has lost their queen?


I have a complete second hive (Shirley Hive) set up near the first (Hebert Hive) which had a brood box, queen separator, and super – all complete with frames, inner cover, outer lid, and entrance board.  It has a screen bottom but the Hebert Hive has a solid wood bottom and it is doing well but has a screen board for the Hebert Hive but not installed yet, should I do this or not since they seem to be doing so well.  I have two queens coming in April and plan is to remove the old queen from the Hebert hive and install one of the new queens in this hive.  At the same time remove (some number of frames with honey, brood, pollen or whatever) from the Hebert Hive and place these in the Shirley Hive and move the empty frames from the Shirley Hive into the Hebert Hive and install the second new queen into the Shirley Hive then and move hive to a different location, some distance away.

I now have a queen kit complete with frame that contains plastic cups for eggs, larva, and so forth.  I have a five frame medium hive now that I could use to try to grow queens.  When should I start this?  Soon I think.  Idea is to take some number of frames from the Hebert Hive and put into the 5 frame with the special queen frame with the plastic cups.  The bees will recognize there is no queen and start queen cells in the plastic cups and presto new queens will be made, or I think that is supposed to be what happens.  The queen kit is set up so when the queen emerges from the plastic cup she is captured in a plastic tube so she can be transferred easily.  So big question is.

When do I take frames from Hebert Hive and move to five frame hive with queen kit?  Now that the bees have begun to forage it appears it should be soon.

Frames will be removed from the Hebert Hive and placed in the Shirley Hive as soon as the new queens arrive, April 10.  Old queen removed from the Hebert Hive and other new queen placed in Hebert Hive.

So if Hebert hive has 20 frames, (10 in super and 10 in brood box) how many frames will go to Shirley Hive and how many frames will go to 5 frame queen rearing hive?

I think perhaps 5 to Shirley and 5 to new frame hive.    What to include:   honey frame, brood frame, pollen frame, nectar frame, drone frame.  OK or not?


Frames covered with happy bees.

Understand that the new queens will have to leave hive and meet drones in air or is this necessary with the new queens???    These bees are curious creatures but I’m having fun and looking to getting a lot of honey in September and some new queens soon to share with club members or others or even start more hives myself.  Guess the big question is how many frames and what kind to leave in the Hebert Hive so the new queen can get started and they can build up enough food sources before winter so they can survive.  Also should the queen hive (5 frames) be moved far away from the other two hives???

Jimmy Earl Cooley   March 8, 2013

 Best Regards,

Jimmy Earl 

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