Every year as the days get longer and hotter our plants become vacationing spots for numerous itsy-bitsy visitors. These unwanted critters feast on landscaping plant matter and stay for extended periods of time. If you are wanting to shorten their vacation time then you’ve come to the right place. As we have officially started summer, the itsy-bitsy critters have emerged to begin feeding. We have compiled some of the best tips for identifying and preventing these unwanted visitors.
The key to managing insects is proper identification. Once properly identified it is simple to narrow down the best pest management procedure to introduce into your landscape or garden. Here we have compiled some of the best ways to identify insects.
Japanese Beetles- These beetles have a metallic green color with bronze wings. They entered America in 1916 and have been a major problem since arriving. The best way to identify Japanese Beetles is to look for small white tuffs of hair found around the base of the body. These beetles are hungry visitors who love to munch on roses, fruit trees, ornamental trees, and shrubs. Adult visitors can fly between plants and eat plant leaves from the top and work their way down. They are also know to eat rose buds from the inside out.
Flea Beetles- There are many forms of flea beetles ranging in the colors of black, bronze, brown, hints of blue or grayish coloring. The best way to identify a flea beetle is to look for a small insect that jumps quickly, it also resembles a flea or small beetle (hence the name). Adult flea beetles feed on leaves and stems of plants. They create irregular patterns in the leaves that they munch on. Many flea beetles love vegetable crops and occasionally they will enjoy Hydrangeas, Weigelas, or ITEA Little Henry.
Aphids- These visitors can be found on many landscape plants and trees including Ash, Birch, Elm, Hydrangea, Linden, Maple, Oak, Pine, Tulip tree, Viburnum, and Walnut. They typically can be found on the underside of leaves in colonies. These visitors leave behind a sugary sap when staying on your plants, this sap is called “honeydew.” This sap is not sweet for plant owners as it can cause more serious problems like sooty mold.
Recommended Prevention Methods
Introducing New Plants
A common way to get rid of unwanted visitors is to draw them away from your plants. One way to draw insects away is to add a row cover or a crop that will attract the insect more than your plant. Radish is a great plant that can be used to attract flea beetles. Another way to get attention of insects away from plants is to manipulate the habitat by adding resistant plant varieties next to those suitable. This makes the area less attractable to insects and motivates them to find a new home. This is a great tactic for Japanses beetles.
Another method is to use a pesticide management program. A pesticide management program includes routinely treating plants for common insects. Aphids can be treated by contact insecticides, which work by directly spraying droplets onto insects. Treatment for adult Japanese beetles can include any of the following chemicals: bifenthrin, carbaryl, cyfluthrin, deltamethrin, or permethrin. There are many pesticides labeled for use to control flea beetles. Some examples of active ingredients to look for in garden pesticides include: pyrethrins/pyrethrum (must be used with caution as it can be harmful to natural bee populations), carbaryl, malathion, spinosad, permethrin, and lambda cyhalo. Make sure when using chemicals to wear the proper protective clothing and to maintain necessary spraying equipment.
A newer method of getting rid of insects is to send in some predators. This works by natural selection as the unwanted critters get eaten up. For example the Microctonus vittatae is a native braconid wasp which kills adult flea beetles. Natural predator of aphids include ladybugs, green lacewing larvae and syrphid fly larvae. A major benefit of natural predators is the reduction of chemicals and pesticides used within a landscape.
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