As we get deep into a hot dry summer, we just wanted to alert you to a few common insect issues we see in the garden and a few to look out for that are more serious and the authorities need to be aware if if you spot them around you home or walking in nature.
These insects are commonly found in the summer feeding on ornamental and edible plants.
We want to help you identify the problem and offer a solution. Let us say upfront, there are many, many beneficial insects that are good for our ecosystem and environment. It is important to identify bad insects and make a decision how important it is control them, while weighing the potential the damage it may cause to unintended targets. It is always best to show us photos or bring in samples in plastic bags if you are not sure or need some additional help.
This common cause of petunias not flowering or looking their best. Most people think their petunia has dried out or stopped flowering and time to be replaced. But actually it is often a caterpillar called a budworm that is eating the flowers.
They also eat the foliage and make the plants look like they have no flowers and very few leaves. The problem gets worse as the season progresses. The best way to treat these is to spray with Eight after dusk and after the bees have gone in for the night in an effort to reduce damage to them. Ideally you could pick off any remaining flowers before spraying, this will be even more beneficial to our bee population. The other solution is to plant annuals that do not get affected by this insect such as Verbena, Lantana, Scaveola and Sunpatiens.
The most common Beetle by name is Japanese Beetles, but there are too many types to even list. Beatles damage can be found on many different plants including roses & hardy hibiscus. Beetles typically eat the leaves of plants leaving skeletonized look. Beetles are commonly seen during the day on the leaves and flowers. They are easily treated with Captain Jack’s Dead Brew or Eight. Again it’s ideal to spray after dusk and or avoid spraying directly on the flowers in an attempt minimize damage to pollinators.
Unlike beetles they often hide under leaves and rocks and often only feed at night. I have damage from earwigs on my Zinnias, which is common, but I have not seen the earwigs on my plant. I did however notice some under one of my nearby pots when I moved it. I cut the flowers on my plant and put them in a vase, then sprayed my plants with Eight or Captain Jack’s after dusk. It seems to have done the trick.
Slugs & Snails
Slugs can be very damaging to hostas. During stretches of wet weather, which we have had little of. Slugs come out at night and eat the foliage of hostas. Sprinkling a granular slug killer such as Slug Magic around plants can prevent damage before it looks unsightly. Slug Magic is considered organic and made of Iron Phosphate. We recommend doing this preventively on any plants that you have seen damage on in the past or when you first see signs. Damage is less likely to be seen during dry weather.
All of the above insects are chewing insects. Spider are sucking insects, actually considered an arachnid or in the spider family. They are very tiny insects almost too small to see with the naked eye. They attack many type of evergreens, perennials, citrus plants, houseplants and more. They are very common and can be damaging.
I worry less about them long term on perennials, but they can damage evergreens, citrus and certain houseplants enough to kill them or severely injure them. Follow the links to see photos of spider mite damage. I usually describe the damage as if someone took a yellow pencil and tapped the leaf hundreds of times. When damage is more severed the entire leaf looks like it is yellow. I usually do not recommend getting leaves of plants wet while watering, but anything prone to spider mites and not prone to fungal diseases it actually helps to wet the foliage.
Spider mites do not like cold water and you can significantly reduce populations if you wet the foliage when you are watering your plants. This is more practical for outdoor plants of course. Neem and other Horticultural oils are also affective for controlling spider mites. It is important to make contact with the insect and know that you have to often coat the undersides of leaves and needles. Sometimes we recommend leaning potted plants on their side to accomplish this or spray from bottom to top if that is not possible.
The above information is to help you ID and treat for these common problems. It is of course very important to read the labels of insecticides and use caution to protect yourself and the natural world around you. Please consult us if you have further questions.
After attending a recent industry conference we decided to relay some information we learned of of some extremely serious pests that our government authorities and industry officials are concerned about. Please take a minute to read about each of these. It is recommend to learn how to identify these insects if you see them and contacts authorities if needed. We are trying to limit their spread in our state.