February 20, 2009

The Ways to Control Plant Pests on Your Garden

The tell-tale signs are there: C- shaped notches in leaves; stunted growth; and even yellow, wilting leaves - a black vine weevil infestation! This insect infects over 200 plants but the most common include rhododendrons, azaleas and yew. There are few garden pests that are as difficult to get rid of as this weevil but by targeting the young and vulnerable larvae and using a few cultural practices, gardeners can get good control of this nuisance.


The adult weevil is a dark, oval-shaped insect, ½" in length with a blunt snout and distinct antennae. In North America, all of the adults are females so every insect has the ability to cause and infestation. Feeding occurs at night; the adults do not fly but instead need to crawl up plants. The larvae are off-white in color with dark heads and can also do extensive damage as they feed on plant roots.

Life cycle

The adult weevils emerge from the soil in late May or early June through mid-July. These adults feed for 4-5 weeks in order to produce the 300+ eggs that are dropped into the ground under the plant. The eggs hatch within 2 weeks and the larvae then tunnel into the soil where they feed on plant roots. They then tunnel deeper into the soil to protect themselves from frost and pupate in the spring.

Control Methods

Understanding the lifecycle and feeding practices of the weevil is the key to keeping the pest under control. Since adult weevils feed on leaves during the night and look for dark, moist spots during the day to rest, trapping them in these areas can be quite effective.

Hand picking

With the aid of a flashlight, pick-off the adults in the evening as they come out to feed.


*Simply placing a white drop cloth under your plant in the evening or early morning and shaking the leaves will help to catch many of the adults.

*During the day, place a board under the plant. Check the board for hiding adults and scrape them off into a bucket of soapy water.

*Place a wrapper around the trunk of the plant
and coat it with a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot. The wrapper should be at least 6" wide.


The eggs and larvae of the black vine weevil require moisture to survive. If your plants are heavily mulched, pull back this mulch to allow the surface of the soil to dry out and do not water plants unless necessary.

Beneficial Nematodes

Rather than attacking the adults, beneficial nematodes go after the larvae in the soil and are a safe & natural method of controlling black vine weevil. A few things are critical in order to get good control:

Timing & Temperature - Beneficial nematodes require a soil temperature of at least 60 F to work. Gardeners often miss the critical period in the spring since the weevil larvae pupate fairly early, before the soil warms. The late summer and early fall is the best time to apply nematodes.

Moisture - The root zone around the plant must be moist since nematodes don't swim and require water to carry them through the soil. Water the area before and after application.

Name, description and damage symptoms Management


While you like butterfly plants like passiflora, aristolochia or asclepias
- no way you like what their babies-caterpillars do to them...

Most times, mechanical controls are effective. When young trees are
heavily infested, the use of insecticides may be warranted. If a biological
insecticide is used such as Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), be sure to spray
the entire foliage that is being affected. Caterpillars must eat a good
amount of the treated foliage to be sickened. Bt is most effective for
managing small, young larvae in the spring. If a contact insecticide is
used, treat the larvae that congregated in the early morning. This way,
you do not have to spray the entire tree, just the tents. In doing this,
be sure that your pesticide is penetrating the tent. Making tears into
the tents may be worthwhile before you spray. As the caterpillars mature,
it is important that the surrounding foliage is also treated; the caterpillars
disperse from the tent as food becomes scarce. As with all our chemical
recommendations, be sure to read and follow the label. Be sure to distinguish
label directions for fruiting, edible trees and ornamental trees.


Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts
that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts
and suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid
species that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult
to distinguish; however, identification to species is not necessary
to control them in most situations.

Aphids may be green, yellow, brown, red, or black depending on the
species and the plants they feed on. A few species appear waxy or woolly
due to the secretion of a waxy white or gray substance over their body
surface. All are small, pear-shaped insects with long legs and antennae.
Most species have a pair of tubelike structures called cornicles projecting
backwards out of the hind end of their bodies. The presence of cornicles
distinguishes aphids from all other insects.

Generally adult aphids are wingless, but most species also occur in
winged forms, especially when populations are high or during spring
and fall. The ability to produce winged individuals provides the pest
with a way to disperse to other plants when the quality of the food
source deteriorates.

Although they may be found singly, aphids often feed in dense groups
on leaves or stems. Unlike leafhoppers, plant bugs, and certain other
insects that might be confused with them, most aphids do not move rapidly
when disturbed.

Life Cycle. Aphids have many generations a year. Most aphids in California's
mild climate reproduce asexually throughout most or all of the year
with adult females giving birth to live offspring (often as many as
12 per day) without mating. Young aphids are called nymphs. They molt,
shedding their skins about four times before becoming adults. There
is no pupal stage. Some species mate and produce eggs in fall or winter,
which provides them a more hardy stage to survive harsh weather. In
some cases, these eggs are laid on an alternative host, usually a perennial
plant, for winter survival. When the weather is warm, many species of
aphids can develop from newborn nymph to reproducing adult in 7 to 8
days. Because each adult aphid can produce up to 80 offspring in a matter
of a week, aphid populations can increase with great speed.

Low to moderate numbers of leaf-feeding aphids are usually not damaging
in gardens or on trees. However, large populations cause curling, yellowing,
and distortion of leaves and stunting of shoots; they can also produce
large quantities of a sticky exudate known as honeydew, which often
turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus. Some aphid species
inject a toxin into plants, which further distorts growth. A few species
cause gall formations.

Check your plants regularly for aphids--at least twice weekly when
plants are growing rapidly. Many species of aphids cause the greatest
damage when temperatures are warm but not hot (65° to 80°F). Catch infestations
early. Once aphid numbers are high and they have begun to distort and
curl leaves, it is often hard to control them because the curled leaves
shelter aphids from insecticides or natural enemies.

Many aphid species prefer the undersides of leaves, so turn them over
to check them. On trees, clip off leaves from several areas of the tree
to check for aphids. Also check for evidence of natural enemies such
as lady beetles, lacewings, syrphid fly larvae, and the mummified skins
of parasitized aphids. Look for disease-killed aphids as well: they
may appear off-color, bloated, or flattened. Substantial numbers of
any of these natural control factors can mean that the aphid population
may be reduced rapidly without the need for treatment.

Biological Control. Many predators also feed on aphids. The most well
known are lady beetle adults and larvae, lacewing larvae, and syrphid
fly larvae. Naturally occurring predators work best, especially in a
small backyard situation. Commercially available lady beetles may give
some temporary control when properly handled, although most of them
will disperse away from your yard within a few days.

Aphids are very susceptible to fungal diseases when it is humid. Whole
colonies of aphids can be killed by these pathogens when conditions
are right.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long, slender mouth parts
that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts
and suck out plant fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid
species that occasionally feeds on it. Many aphid species are difficult
to distinguish; however, identification to species is not necessary
to control them in most situations.

Where aphid populations are localized on a few curled leaves or new
shoots, the best control may be to prune these areas out and dispose
of them. In large trees, some aphids thrive in the dense inner canopy;
pruning these areas out can make the habitat less suitable.

High levels of nitrogen fertilizer favor aphid reproduction. Never
use more nitrogen than necessary. Use less soluble forms of nitrogen
and apply it in small portions throughout the season rather than all
at once. Or better yet, use a urea-based, time-release formulation (most
organic fertilizers can be classified as time-release products as compared
to synthetically manufactured fertilizers).

Another way to reduce aphid populations on sturdy plants is to knock
them off with a strong spray of water. Most dislodged aphids will not
be able to return to the plant, and their honeydew will be washed off
as well. Using water sprays early in the day allows plants to dry off
rapidly in the sun and be less susceptible to fungal diseases.

Chemical Control. Insecticidal soap, neem oil, and narrow-range oil
(e.g., supreme or superior parafinic-type oil) provide temporary control
if applied to thoroughly cover infested foliage. To get thorough coverage,
spray these materials with a high volume of water and target the underside
of leaves as well as the top. Soaps, neem oil, and narrow range oil
only kill aphids present on the day they are sprayed, so applications
may need to be repeated.

Many other insecticides are available to control aphids in the home
garden and landscape, including foliar-applied formulations of malathion,
permethrin and acephate (nonfood crops only). While these materials
may kill higher numbers of aphids than soaps and oils, their use should
be limited because they also kill the natural enemies that provide long-term
control of aphids and other pests. Repeated applications of these materials
may also result in the development of resistance to the material by
the aphid.

Tomato hornworm with Braconid Cocoons

The larval stage of this insect is a 3 1/2 to 4 inch long pale green
caterpillar with 5 pairs of prolegs and a "horn" on the last
segment. The two most common hornworms are the tobacco hornworm (7 diagonal
white stripes and, most commonly, a red horn) and the tomato hornworm
("V" shaped markings with a horn that is often black). The
adult of the tobacco Hornworm is the Sphinx moth. The Five-spotted Hawk
Moth is the adult of the tomato hornworm. Both moths are stout-bodied,
grayish-colored insects with a wing spread of 4 to 5 inches.

The larva is the damaging stage and feeds on the leaves and stems of
the tomato plant leaving behind dark green or black droppings. Though
initially quite small with a body about the same size as its horn, these
insects pass through 4 or 5 larval stages to reach full size in about
a month. The coloration of this larva causes it to blend in with its
surroundings and is often difficult to see despite its large size. It
eventually will burrow into the soil to pupate. There are two generations
a year.

This insect is parasitized by a number of insects. One of the most common
is a small braconid wasp. Larva that hatch from wasp eggs laid on the
hornworm feed on the inside of the hornworm until the wasp is ready to
pupate. The cocoons appear as white projections protruding from the hornworms
body. If such projections are seen, leave the infected hornworms in the
garden. The wasps will kill the hornworms when they emerge from the cocoons

and will seek out other hornworms to parasitize.

Handpicking is an effective control in small gardens. Bt (Bacillus
thuringiensis) and other insecticides may also be used to control hornworms.

Snails and slugs

- move by gliding along on a muscular "foot." This muscle
constantly secretes mucus, which later dries to form the silvery "slime
trail" that signals the presence of either pest. Slugs and snails
are hermaphrodites, so all have the potential to lay eggs. Adult brown
garden snails lay about 80 spherical, pearly white eggs at a time into
a hole in the topsoil. They may lay eggs up to six times a year. It
takes about 2 years for snails to mature. Slugs reach maturity after
about 3 to 6 months, depending on species, and lay clear oval to round
eggs in batches of 3 to 40 under leaves, in soil cracks, and in other
protected areas.

Snails and slugs are most active at night and on cloudy or foggy days.
On sunny days they seek hiding places out of the heat and bright light;
often the only clues to their presence are their silvery trails and
plant damage. In mild-winter areas such as southern coastal locations,
young snails and slugs can be active throughout the year.

During cold weather, snails and slugs hibernate in the topsoil. During
hot, dry periods or when it is cold, snails seal themselves off with
a parchmentlike membrane and often attach themselves to tree trunks,
fences, or walls.

Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants as well as on decaying
plant matter. On plants they chew irregular holes with smooth edges
in leaves and flowers and can clip succulent plant parts. They can also
chew fruit and young plant bark. Because they prefer succulent foliage
or flowers, they are primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants,
but they are also serious pests of ripening fruits, such as strawberries,
artichokes, and tomatoes, that are close to the ground.

A good snail and slug management program relies on a combination of
methods. The first step is to eliminate, to the extent possible, all places
where snails or slugs can hide during the day. Boards, stones, debris,
weedy areas around tree trunks, leafy branches growing close to the ground,
and dense ground covers such as ivy are ideal sheltering spots. There
will be shelters that are not possible to eliminate—e.g., low ledges on
fences, the undersides of wooden decks, and water meter boxes. Make a
regular practice of trapping and removing snails and slugs in these areas.
Also, locate vegetable gardens or susceptible plants as far away as possible
from these areas. Reducing hiding places allows fewer snails and slugs
to survive. The survivors congregate in the remaining shelters, where
they can more easily be located and removed. Switching from sprinkler
irrigation to drip irrigation will reduce humidity and moist surfaces,
making the habitat less favorable for these pests. Choose snail-proof
plants for areas where snails and slugs are dense. Copper barriers can
be useful for protecting especially susceptible plants. Though baits can
be part of a management program for snails and slugs, by themselves they
don’t provide adequate control in gardens that contain plenty of shelter,
food, and moisture.

Handpicking can be very effective if done thoroughly on a regular basis.
Snails and slugs can be trapped under boards or flower pots positioned
throughout the garden and landscape. Several types of barriers will
keep snails and slugs out of planting beds. The easiest to maintain
are those made with copper flashing and screen. Copper barriers are
effective because it is thought that the copper reacts with the slime
that the snail or slug secretes, causing a flow of electricity. Vertical
copper screens can be erected around planting beds. The screen should
be 6 inches tall and buried several inches below the soil to prevent
slugs from crawling through the soil beneath the barrier. Snails and
slugs have many natural enemies, including ground beetles, pathogens,
snakes, toads, turtles, and birds, but most are rarely effective enough
to provide satisfactory control in the garden.

Snail and slug baits can be effective when used properly in conjunction
with a cultural program incorporating the other methods discussed above.
However, baits alone will not effectively control snails or slugs. Several
types of snail and slug bait products are available. Baits containing
the active ingredient metaldehyde are most common. Metaldehyde baits
are particularly poisonous to dogs and cats, and the pelleted form is
especially attractive to dogs. Metaldehyde snail baits should not be
used where children and pets cannot be kept away from them. Some metaldehyde
products are formulated with carbaryl, partly to increase the spectrum
of pests controlled to include soil and debris-dwelling insects, spiders,
and sowbugs. However, carbaryl is toxic to soil-inhabiting beneficials
like ground beetles and earthworms and should be avoided if snail and
slug management is all that is required. Metaldehyde baits containing
4% metaldehyde are significantly more effective than those products
containing only 2% metaldehyde; however, they are also more toxic to
dogs and wildlife. Most currently available 4% products are formulated
for use in enclosed bait stations to minimize their hazard.

Avoid getting metaldehyde bait on plants, especially vegetables. Baits
containing only metaldehyde are most reliable when temperatures are
warm or following a rain when snails and slugs are active. Metaldehyde
does not kill snails and slugs directly unless they eat a substantial
amount; rather, it stimulates their mucous-producing cells to overproduce
mucous in an attempt to detoxify the bait. The cells eventually fail
and the snail dies. When it is sunny or hot, they die from desiccation.
If baiting is followed by cool and wet weather, they may recover if
they ingest a sublethal dose. Do not water heavily for at least 3 or
4 days after bait placement; watering will reduce effectiveness and
snails may recover from metaldehyde poisoning if high moisture conditions
occur. Most metaldehyde baits break down rapidly when exposed to sunlight;
however, some paste or bullet formulations (such as Deadline) hold up
somewhat longer under conditions of sunlight and moisture.

A recently registered snail and slug bait, iron phosphate (available
under many trade names including Sluggo and Escar-Go), has the advantage
of being safe for use around domestic animals, children, birds, fish,
and other wildlife and is a good choice for a garden IPM program. Ingestion
of the iron phosphate bait, even in small amounts, will cause snails
and slugs to cease feeding, although it may take several days for the
snails to die. Iron phosphate bait can be scattered on lawns or on the
soil around any vegetables, ornamentals, or fruit trees to be protected.
Iron phosphate baits may be more effective against snails than slugs.

Spider Mite

Mites are common pests in landscapes and gardens and can be found feeding
on many fruit trees, vines, berries, vegetables, and ornamental plants.
Although related to insects, mites are not insects but members of the
arachnid class along with spiders and ticks. The spider mites, also
called webspinning mites, are the most common mite pests and among the
most ubiquitous of all pests in the garden and farm.

To the naked eye, spider mites look like tiny moving dots; however,
you can see them easily with a 10X hand lens. Adult females, the largest
forms, are less than 1/20 inch long. Spider mites live in colonies ,
mostly on the under-surfaces of leaves; a single colony may contain
hundreds of individuals. The names "spider mite" and "webspinning
mite" come from the silk webbing most species produce on infested
leaves. The presence of webbing is an easy way to distinguish them from
all other types of mites.

Adults have eight legs and an oval body, with two red eyespots near
the head end of the body. Females usually have a large, dark blotch
on each side of the body and numerous bristles covering the legs and
body. Immatures resemble adults, except the newly hatched larvae have
only six legs. Eggs are spherical and translucent, like tiny droplets,
becoming cream colored before hatching.

Mites cause damage by sucking cell contents from leaves. A small number
of mites is not usually reason for concern, but very high populations—levels
high enough to show visible damage to leaves—can be damaging to plants,
especially herbaceous ones. At first, the damage shows up as a stippling
of light dots on the leaves; sometimes the leaves take on a bronze color.
As feeding continues, the leaves turn yellow and drop off. Often leaves,
twigs, and fruit are covered with large amounts of webbing. Damage is
usually worse when compounded by water stress.

Spider mites have many natural enemies that often limit populations.
Adequate irrigation is important because water-stressed plants are most
likely to be damaged. Broad-spectrum insecticide treatments for other
pests frequently cause mite outbreaks, so avoid these when possible.
Sprays of water, insecticidal oils, or soaps can be used for management.
Always monitor before treatment.

Spider mites frequently become a problem after the application of insecticides.
Such outbreaks are commonly a result of the insecticide killing off
the natural enemies of the mites, but also occur when certain insecticides
stimulate mite reproduction. For example, spider mites exposed to carbaryl
(Sevin) in the laboratory have been shown to reproduce faster than untreated
populations. Carbaryl, some organophosphates, and some pyrethroids apparently
also favor spider mites by increasing the level of nitrogen in leaves.
Insecticides applied during hot weather usually appear to have the greatest
effect on mites, causing dramatic outbreaks within a few days.

If a treatment for mites is necessary, use selective materials, preferably
insecticidal soap or insecticidal oil. Petroleum-based horticultural
oils or neem oils are both acceptable. Do not use soaps or oils on water-stressed
plants or when temperatures exceed 90°F. These materials may be phytotoxic
to some plants, so check labels and/or test them out on a portion of
the foliage several days before applying a full treatment. Oils and
soaps must contact mites to kill them so excellent coverage, especially
on the undersides of leaves, is essential and repeat applications may
be required. Sulfur dust or spray can be used on some vegetables, but
will burn cucurbits. Do not use sulfur dust if temperatures exceed 90°F
and do not apply sulfur within 30 days of an oil spray. Sulfur dusts
are skin irritants and eye and respiratory hazards. Always wear appropriate
protective clothing.


Mealybugs are part of the insect families collectively known as scale
insects. They are soft-bodied, without the outer shell associated with
insects in the other scale insect families. Instead, mealybugs are usually
covered with a white waxy powder

Mealybugs have sucking mouthparts. Feeding weakens and stunts plants,
causes leaf distortion, yellowing, and even total leaf loss. In some
cases, plants can be killed. Mealybugs also produce large amounts of
honeydew (similar to that produced by whiteflies and aphids), which
can coat plants and surrounding surfaces with a sticky layer. A black
fungus commonly known as "sooty mold" grows on the honeydew.
The presence of honeydew and sooty fungus is one way to detect infestations
of these insects.

Life Cycle. The citrus mealybug female can produce about 600 eggs,
which are produced in cottony structures called ovisacs. Eggs may be
produced with or without males. The eggs hatch in less than 10 days
into small nymphs called crawlers. The crawlers move about the plants
and locate feeding sites. Once the insects settle, there is not much
movement. Under favorable conditions, there may be six generations per
year. In reality, generations overlap, so all developmental stages will
be present.


Many chemical insecticides list mealybugs.

Non-chemical Control:

- Rubbing Alcohol Spray: Mix 1 to 2 cups alcohol per quart of water.
Using undiluted alcohol as a spray is very risky for plants. Since alcohol
can damage plants always test your spray mix on a few leaves of plants
first. If the spray kills the pests and no leaf damage shows within
the next 2 or 3 days, go ahead and spray further, using exactly the
same ingredients and proportions you tested. If an infestation is well-established,
it will be necessary to make a series of applications, at 10 to 14 day
intervals, for mealybug control.

- Insecticidal soap spray according to the dilution on the label but
substitute alcohol for half of the water required.

- Horticultural Oil and Insecticidal Soap Sprays: Are effective non-chemical
controls for mealy bugs and other soft-bodied pests. Oil sprays suffocate
the insects and can aid in controlling scale crawlers and eggs, while
soap sprays cause the insects cell membranes to rupture effectively
causing it to dessicate.



Leaf Curl

Caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. One of the most common disease
problems for backyard gardeners. The distorted, reddened foliage that
it causes is easily seen in spring. When severe, the disease can reduce
fruit production substantially.

To prevent peach leaf curl, treat the trees every year after leaves
have fallen (late November). Copper-based fungicides, tribasic copper
sulfate, calcium polysulfides, metallic copper, or synthetic fungicides
can be used. However, to be effective, copper-containing compounds must
have at least 50% copper; those containing less do not adequately control
leaf curl despite advertising claims. If timed properly, a single fall/winter
spray will normally prevent losses.

In areas of high spring rainfall or when spring rainfall is abundant,
it may be advisable to apply a second copper spray or a lime sulfur
treatment in spring, preferably before buds begin to swell, but definitely
before budbreak (when green color is first visible). Fungicides containing
chlorothalonil also work well at this time.

white magnolia scale



Can be serious pests on all types of woody plants and shrubs. Scales
are so unusual looking that many people do not at first recognize them
as insects. Adult female scales and many immature forms do not move,
are hidden under a disklike or waxy covering, and lack a separate head
or other recognizable body parts. Scales have long piercing mouthparts
with which they suck juices out of plants. They may occur on twigs,
leaves, branches, or fruit. Severe infestations can cause overall decline
and even death of plants. Most scales have many natural enemies that
often effectively control them.

Woody plants heavily infested with armored scales often look water
stressed. Leaves may turn yellow and drop, twigs and limbs on trees
may die, and bark may crack and produce gum. Many armored scales attack
leaves or fruit as well, leaving blemishes and halos on fruit; the fruit
damage is often just aesthetic. Some armored scales can kill plants.

Scales are often well controlled by natural enemies, especially when
predator and parasite activities are not disrupted by ants or applications
of broad-spectrum insecticides such as carbaryl, malathion, or pyrethroids
applied to control other pests. If scale populations, especially armored
scale species, become abundant, you should take action. In the case
of soft scales, controlling ants may be sufficient to bring about gradual
control of scales as natural enemies become more abundant. If not, well-timed
sprays of oil applied either during the dormant season or when crawlers
are active in spring (or, in the case of black scale, in summer) should
provide good control.

Dormant-season applications of specially refined oils, often called
narrow-range, supreme, or superior type oils, are effective against
most scale pests of deciduous trees and landscape plants, especially
San Jose scale, walnut scale, and the lecanium scales, but not against
oystershell or olive scales because susceptible stages of these pests
are not present during winter. Avoid oils called dormant oil or dormant
oil emulsions, which are more likely to injure plants. Treatments can
be made any time during dormancy or, for sycamore scale and oak pit
scales, during the delayed dormant period, which is the time after the
buds swell but before they open. Be sure that the plants are not water
stressed to avoid injury. A good time to apply oils is right after a
period of rain or foggy weather.

An application of oil or soap alone is usually adequate. One study
(of sycamore scale) found that organophosphates (e.g., malathion) combined
with oil were no more effective than a properly timed, thorough application
of oil or soap alone.

Avoid using the organophosphates chlorpyrifos (Dursban) and diazinon
in landscapes and gardens because of problems from their runoff in urban
surface water and contamination of municipal wastewater.


Microscopic, eel-like roundworms. The most troublesome species in the
garden are those that live and feed within plant roots most of their
lives and those that live freely in the soil and feed on plant roots.

Root knot nematodes usually cause distinctive swellings, called galls,
on the roots of affected plants. Infestations of these nematodes are
fairly easy to recognize by digging up a few plants with symptoms, washing
or gently tapping the soil from the roots, and examining the roots for
galls. The nematodes feed and develop within the galls, which may grow
to as large as 1-inch in diameter on some plants but are usually much
smaller. The water- and nutrient-conducting abilities of the roots are
damaged by the formation of the galls. Galls may crack or split open,
especially on the roots of vegetable plants, allowing the entry of soilborne,
disease-causing microorganisms.


Management of nematodes is difficult. The most reliable practices are
preventive, including sanitation and choice of plant varieties. Existing
infestations can be reduced through fallowing, crop rotation, or soil
solarization. However, these methods reduce nematodes primarily in the
top foot or so of the soil, so are effective only for about a year.
They are suitable primarily for annual plants or to help young woody
plants establish. Once an area or crop is infested, try to minimize
damage by adjusting planting and harvesting dates and irrigation or
by the use of soil amendments.

Nematodes are usually introduced into new areas with infested soil
or plants. Prevent nematodes from entering your garden by using only
nematode-free plants purchased from reliable nurseries. To prevent the
spread of nematodes, avoid moving plants and soil from infested parts
of the garden. Do not allow irrigation water from around infested plants
to run off, as this spreads nematodes. Nematodes may be present in soil
attached to tools and equipment used elsewhere, so clean tools thoroughly
before using them in your garden.


Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects that are frequently abundant
in vegetable and ornamental plantings. They excrete sticky honeydew
and cause yellowing or death of leaves.

Whiteflies usually occur in groups on the undersides of leaves. They
derive their name from the mealy, white wax covering the adult’s wings
and body. Adults are tiny insects with yellowish bodies and whitish

Whiteflies suck phloem sap. Large populations can cause leaves to turn
yellow, appear dry, or fall off plants. Like aphids, whiteflies excrete
honeydew, so leaves may be sticky or covered with black sooty mold.
The honeydew attracts ants, which interfere with the activities of natural
enemies that may control whiteflies and other pests.

Management of heavy whitefly infestations is very difficult. Whiteflies
are not well controlled with any available insecticides. The best strategy
is to prevent problems from developing in your garden to the extent possible.
In many situations, natural enemies will provide adequate control of whiteflies;
outbreaks may occur if natural enemies that provide biological control
of whiteflies are disrupted by insecticide applications, dusty conditions,
or interference by ants. Avoid or remove plants that repeatedly host high
populations of whiteflies. In gardens, whitefly populations in the early
stages of population development can be held down by a vigilant program
of removing infested leaves, vacuuming adults, or hosing down (syringing)
with water sprays. Aluminum foil or reflective mulches can repel whiteflies
from vegetable gardens and sticky traps can be used to monitor or, at
high levels, reduce whitefly numbers. If you choose to use insecticides,
insecticidal soaps or oils such as neem oil may reduce but not eliminate

Hand-removal of leaves heavily infested with the nonmobile nymphal
and pupal stages may reduce populations to levels that natural enemies
can contain. Water sprays (syringing) may also be useful in dislodging

A small, hand-held, battery-operated vacuum cleaner has also been recommended
for vacuuming adults off leaves. Vacuum in the early morning or other
times when it is cool and whiteflies are sluggish. Kill vacuumed insects
by placing the vacuum bag in a plastic bag and freezing it overnight.
Contents may be disposed of the next day.

Insecticides have only a limited effect on whiteflies. Most kill only
those whiteflies that come in direct contact with them. For particularly
troublesome situations, try insecticidal soap or an insecticidal oil
such as neem oil or narrow-range oil. Because these products only kill
whitefly nymphs that are directly sprayed, plants must be thoroughly
covered with the spray solution. Be sure to cover undersides of all
infested leaves; usually these are the lowest leaves and the most difficult
to reach. Use soaps when plants are not drought-stressed and when temperatures
are under 80°F to prevent possible damage to plants. Avoid using other
pesticides to control whiteflies; not only do most of them kill natural
enemies, whiteflies quickly build up resistance to them, and most are
not very effective in garden situations.


Thrips are tiny, slender insects with fringed wings. They feed by puncturing
their host plant or animal prey and sucking up exuding contents. Certain
thrips species are beneficial predators that feed only on other insects
and mites. Beneficial species include black hunter thrips and the sixspotted
thrips. Pest species are plant feeders that scar leaf, flower, or fruit
surfaces or distort plant parts. Other species of thrips simply feed
on fungal spores and pollen.

Feeding by thrips causes tiny scars on leaves and fruit, called stippling,
and can stunt growth. Damaged leaves may become papery and distorted.
Infested terminals may discolor, become rolled , and drop leaves prematurely.
Petals may exhibit "color break," which is pale or dark discoloring
of petal tissue that was killed by thrips feeding before buds opened.

See more
info on trips

Healthy woody plants usually tolerate thrips damage; however, high
infestations on certain herbaceous ornamentals and developing fruits
or vegetables may justify control. If control is necessary, use an integrated
program of control strategies that combines the use of good cultural
practices and conservation of natural enemies with the use of least
toxic insecticides, such as narrow range oils. Greenhouse thrips biology
differs some from that of most other pest thrips.

Although thrips damage to leaves is unsightly, thrips activity does
not usually warrant the use of insecticide sprays. For instance, while
thrips damage on citrus or avocado fruit may look unpleasant, it does
not harm trees or affect the internal fruit quality. Also, by the time
damage is noticed on ripening fruit, the thrips that caused the injury
are usually gone. While viruses vectored by thrips may cause plant loss,
insecticide sprays are not recommended to prevent viruses because thrips
are not killed fast enough to prevent the transfer of the virus to new
plants. Furthermore, most thrips are difficult to control effectively
with insecticides because they are protected within plant parts that
surround them as they feed. If insecticides are used, they will only
be partially effective and must be combined with appropriate cultural
practices and conservation of natural enemies.

Narrow-range oil, neem oil, and other low-toxicity insecticides such
as insecticidal soaps or pyrethrins can be somewhat effective for temporary
reduction of thrips populations if applied when thrips and damage first
appear. These materials have the benefit of allowing at least a portion
of the natural enemy populations to survive because they don't leave
toxic residues. Sprays must be applied to thoroughly cover susceptible
plant tissue, such as new leaf growth and buds. On plants with a history
of severe, unacceptable damage, begin treatment early when thrips or
their damage is first observed. Repeat applications (usually 5 to 10
days apart, depending on temperature) are usually required because these
insecticides only kill newly hatched thrips and recently emerged adults.
With most thrips species, eggs are protected within plant tissue and
prepupae and pupae are in the soil and will not be killed. No pesticide
treatment will restore the appearance of injured tissue; plants will
remain damaged until leaves drop or injury is pruned off.

For ornamental nonfood plants, several applications of a systemic insecticide
such as the organophosphate acephate (Orthene) can provide temporary
control of thrips, but this product can be highly toxic to natural enemies.
Another systemic insecticide, imidacloprid (Bayer Advanced Garden, Marathon,
and Merit), is also available.

Leaf Miner

Any insect which lays its eggs in the spongy layer between the upper
and lower surfaces of leaves is known as a leaf miner. Larvae develop
between the leaf surfaces and tunnel or 'mine' out the spongy middle
layer as they grow, giving leaves a spotty and brownish appearance.
The four stages of its development are: egg, larva (leaf miner), pupa,
and adult (a small fly).

Although the mines may be considered to be unsightly, this pest can
be tolerated as it has little real impact on the health and vigour of
a holly. Leaves with mines may turn yellow and drop in early summer but
this is the natural shedding of older leaves and not due to the pest.

Pinch the leaves of small trees to kill the leaf miner.

Insecticides are unlikely to be effective as the thick glossy surface
of holly leaves means that sprays run off the foliage and do not penetrate
to where the grubs are feeding. On small specimen plants it is feasible
to remove mined leaves but not if this would result in significant defoliation.

When the leaves are fully formed in late April or early May, this is
your first opportunity to use insecticides. Managing leaf miners at
this time can significantly reduce the chance of a problem later in
the season. In June, if populations are severe, time your insecticide
application to coincide with the second period of adult flight. Once
you’ve noticed that the larvae have left the leaf, start to look for
adults emerging two to three weeks later. Apply insecticides when most
of the adults have emerged. Using insecticides to manage late season
generations is generally not worth it. If late season problems are severe,
consider an insecticide application next spring.

More information:Pests in Landscape

No comments: