The Good Guy Bugs:
LadybugsLadybugs should be protected and treasured. They overwinter under dry leaves in the garden. Don't disturb them too early in the spring - they need their rest!
Ladybugs are red beetles with variable numbers of black spots on their backs. The most common ladybug in our area is the seven-spotted ladybug. They eat aphids and should be welcomed in our gardens. Ladybug larvae look like dark blue armadillos with orange spots and eat just as many aphids as their parents. Don't kill them!
Using Ladybugs to control Aphids
Aphids as usual, have been causing a disturbance in the garden and yards again this summer. Did you know that you can use ladybugs to combat these tiny pests? Ladybugs basically just love to eat aphids and they are the main food source, so they are super effective in controlling them and of course, you won't have to use any chemicals.
There is a trick when you use ladybugs that not everyone knows so we are trying to spread the word. Ladybugs come to us dormant in cold packs. We then refrigerate at greengate to keep them in a dormant state. You may see a couple crawling around the bag, but most will be dormant. This is totally normal and they are very far from being dead. By the time you get home you will notice that they are waking up! Perhaps quite vehemently. It's okay. Let them get going in the bag, but as soon as you get home to prepare a spot for them. This is usually in your garden where the aphids are. Water the area you have chosen to release them. Let water stand in puddles and in drops on the leaves. This is an important step as when they wake up they are both hungry and thirsty. If there is no water there for them readily available then they will take off to find some and you don't want that. You want them to drink right where their food source is. Once they have quenched their thirst, they are going to set out looking for a meal. Both grubs and adults are on the menu. Release them at the base of the plant by just gently shaking them out of the bag medium and all. You can also let them loose in the branches and leaves as long as there is water there for them. Once they have been released sit back and relax. Mother Nature is now in charge. It won't take much time for a package of ladybugs to completely clear your plants. You should see a major reduction in just a couple of days as ladybugs are effective predators.
Leave some debris around your garden to help maintain as many ladybugs in your garden as possible. They will stick around if there is food, water and shelter. An area with lots of debris like bark, leaves, and piles of grass are excellent places for the ladybug to live in over winter, so as long as you provide these needs they should pretty much feel right at home.
Spiders:Spiders are insect eaters and should not be destroyed. They do no harm to plants. They prefer warm, dry places. Spiders are not insects - they have eight legs, not six.
Spiders are 'good guys' and should be welcomed. If they are a nuisance in certain areas, they can be discouraged with periodic sprays of cold water.
Honeybees are well-known black and yellow, furry flying insects. They are beneficial because they pollinate many of our flowering plants by distributing pollen while feeding on nectar. Without them, we would have less fruit. They generally don't bother people unless disturbed.
Honeybees are very useful and should be left to do their jobs. If they are a concern, plants they are attracted to should not be planted near 'people places'.
Mason bees do not produce honey. They also do not like to travel more than a few hundred feet from their nests. This makes them perfect for backyard bee enthusiasts. In the wild they build a nest inside tunnels left behind by tree boring insects. Mason bees cannot dig the tunnels themselves, but most look for an abandoned one. To help you help this super important polinator, we sell Mason bee "condos"..... (learn more)
Ground Beetles:Ground beetles do no harm and should not be disturbed just because they are not 'pretty'!
Ground beetles are large black beetles with long antennae that eat decaying plant material. They are one of the 'garbage men' of the plant world and are very useful in eliminating decaying plants left on the soil.
Dragonflies:Dragonflies are attractive and eat lots of mosquitoes - what more could you ask for?
Dragonflies are large winged insects that eat small insects, mostly mosquitoes. They are great to have in the garden.
The Bad Bugs:
Birch Leaf Miner:Birch Leaf Miner larvae tunnel or mine the inside of birch tree leaves, creating brown patches in the leaf tissue. When pulled apart, tiny larvae can be seen between the leaf layers. They do not seriously harm the trees, unless numbers are very large.￼
Birch Leaf Miner can be prevented for the summer season with a systemic insecticide be placed in the soil at the drip line of the tree as the tree is leafing out. It will move up to the leaves and kill insects that between the leaf layers. Do not apply to young or newly planted trees. It does not need to be done every year. Birch Leaf Miner cannot be controlled by contact insecticides.
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Lilac Leaf Miner:Lilac leaf miner is similar to birch leaf miner, causing black patches in lilac leaves. Little damage is done to the shrub, but leaves become unsightly.￼
Lilac leaf miner can be controlled by painting each branch of the shrub between the leaf layers, during that summer. It should be applied to a different area of the bark each year, and should not be done every year. Lilac leaf miner cannot be controlled by contact insecticides.
Poplar Leaf Miner:Poplar leaf miners tunnel or mine the inside of leaves, creating irregular shaped black patches in the leaves. The larvae can be seen between the leaf layers. They do little damage.
Poplar leaf miners do little harm other than to appearance. There is no chemical control, as the ends of roots are impossible to find (for soil drench) and the bark too thick for painting. They can do considerable damage but do not endanger the tree.
Cottonwood Leaf Beetles:Cottonwood Leaf Beetles are small yellow beetles with black heads and seven elongated spots that look like stripes. The larvae are tan with two rows of black spots and black heads. They skeletonize leaves of poplar trees, so only the large veins are left.
Cottonwood Leaf Beetles can be controlled with a contact insecticide sprayed on the tree when the insects are present. They can do considerable damage but do not endanger the tree.
Leafhoppers:Leafhoppers are similar to white aphids, and are common on hops and Virginia Creeper. They suck the sap from the leaves, leaving them mottled with white spots. By late summer the leaves become brown and crisp.￼
Leafhoppers can be controlled with contact insecticides sprayed on the insects. The insects are often on the undersides of vine leaves, and many vines are against walls and fences, preventing the chemical from reaching them. If a garden hose can be aimed into the foliage it can dislodge many of them.
Box Elder Bugs:Box Elder bugs do little harm and can be safely ignored. A strong stream of water from a garden hose can discourage them.
Box Elder bugs are black beetles with a red V on their backs. They are usually seen on sunny fences or walls of buildings. They are attracted to box elder (Manitoba maple) trees. The small red insects are juvenile.
Ash Plant Bugs:Ash plant bugs may be sprayed with a contact insecticide if seen early enough to prevent damage but are not usually noticed until it is obvious. Damage done is not serious.
Ash plant bugs are dark beetles with a yellowish-white triangular marking in their backs. They pierce the leaf tissue and suck liquid from the cells of the leaf, leaving yellow stippling on the upper side and brown spots of excrement on the underside.
Stink Bugs:Stink bugs can be controlled with contact insecticides if in large numbers. Use one that is appropriate for the plants affected.
Stink bugs vary in color and what they feed on. Some feed on birch, willow, ash and oak foliage. Others are sucking insects that feed on tomatoes. They all have sturdy bodies with angular shoulders and obvious antennae.
Lace Bugs:Lace bugs can be controlled with contact insecticides if in large numbers. Use one that is appropriate for the plants affected.￼
Lace bugs are squarish insects with lacy material between the body and wings. The larvae pierce the leaf and suck fluids from it, causing light flecks on the upper side of the leaf. The dark, sticky excrement on the underside of the leaf can be enough to stop the leaves from manufacturing food.
June Bugs:Do not plant potatoes in an area infected by June bugs. There is no chemical control for potatoes, but lawns can be treated with soil or liquid insecticides appropriate for lawns.
June bugs are black beetles that feed on the foliage of deciduous trees, flowers, weeds and vegetables. The damage they do is minimal compared to that of their larva. White grubs (the larval stage) spend up to three years in the soil, eating the roots of lawns and root vegetables, particularly potatoes.
Spittlebug:Spittlebugs can be controlled with contact insecticides appropriate to the plants affected. Damage is unsightly and occasionally enough to harm the plant.
Spittlebug nymphs cover themselves with a frothy mass of spittle and air bubbles. The female also covers her eggs with froth. Adults resemble brown leafhoppers and are not covered with spittle. Both nymphs and adults pierce foliage and twigs to feed on sap.
Rose Curculio:Rose Curculio dusts and sprays are available to control Rose Curculios as they occur.
Is a red beetle with a long snout. The adults feed on flower buds. It punctures them and the holes are obvious as the flowers open. They also feed on the tips of new rose shoots, causing them to die. The larvae feed on the reproductive parts of the flowers.
Aphids:Aphids can be controlled with contact insecticides but they will kill only those insects they touch. The insects are often inside a rolled up leaf and contact is unpredictable. There are many generations, so it is impossible to eliminate them all. A frequent, hard spray of water will keep them somewhat under control.
Aphids are small green or black insects with bodies like small balloons. They can be found on the stems, flower buds or new leaves and can attack almost any plant by sucking sap from the tissue. Leaves often curl over and are stunted, and a sticky residue called honeydew can be a nuisance. Ants are often seen in these areas as they like the sweet honeydew.
Wooly Elm Aphids:Wooly Elm Aphids are difficult to kill with chemicals as the aphids are curled up inside the leaves and are not reached by contact insecticides. Dusts may be used in the soil of saskatoons if aphids are present, but be sure they are safe for food plants.
Wooly elm aphids secrete a powdery white waxy substance and honeydew that makes the leaves very sticky. Leaves curl and become very unsightly but little damage is done to the tree. Later in the summer they migrate to saskatoon, their alternate host. They live in the roots and can damage young seedlings.
Aphids on Cranberry Bushes:Aphids on Cranberry can be hosed off with a strong spray of water. Contact sprays suitable for fruiting plants can be used.
Aphids on Cranberry Bushes are small green or black insects with bodies like small balloons. They leave a purplish lumpy look to cranberry leaves. The insects underneath the leaves do relatively little damage.
Aphids on Honeysuckle Shrubs:Aphids on Honeysuckle Shrubs cannot be controlled with chemical sprays, as the spray cannot contact the insects inside the folded leaves. Pruning the tips whenever aphids are seen, and removing them from the garden, is the only control.
Aphids on Honeysuckle Shrubs (not climbers) are a particular type that live on the tops of the leaves, causing tips to fold up lengthwise and curl over like a shepherd's crook (witch's broom).
Aphids on Willows and Poplars:Aphids on young trees should be sprayed with a contact insecticide when they are present. It may have to be repeated if more are seen later. Mature trees will not be harmed by the loss of twigs on the ends of the branches.
Aphids on willows and poplars are large, black insects that cluster along the branch tips. They suck sap from the new wood that is easy to penetrate, and will cause small branch ends to die but do no major harm to mature trees.
Aphid Skins:Aphid skins need no control unless live aphids are also present.
Aphid Skins can look like small, elongated, white insects at a glance, but they are the skins that are left behind as the insects outgrow them. They do, of course, indicate that aphids are or have been present, but nothing need be done unless actively feeding insects are seen.
Thrips:Thrips can be controlled with contact insecticides when insects are present.
Thrips are minute black insects which particularly attack green Ash trees and others of the same family. They are long and narrow and leave speckles on the leaves, which die prematurely.
Willow Sawfly Larvae:Willow Sawfly Larvae can be picked off or controlled by contact insecticides when present if in large numbers.
Willow Sawfly Larvae are grayish caterpillars with many black spots, that feed on leaves. There are two generations per year.
Stink Bugs:Stink bugs can be controlled with contact insecticides if in large numbers. Use one that is appropriate for the plants affected.
Stink bugs vary in color and what they feed on. Some feed on birch, willow, ash and oak foliage. Others are sucking insects that feed on tomatoes. They all have sturdy bodies with angular shoulders and obvious antennae.
Nematus Sawfly Larvae:Nematus Sawfly Larvae can be controlled by contact insecticides if present in large numbers.
Nematus Sawfly Larvae on poplar trees are black with yellow spots. The young larvae eat the tissue between the veins of leaves close to the ends of branches. Older larvae eat all but the largest mid-vein.
Pear Slugs:Pear Slugs can be controlled with contact insecticides if numbers are excessive.
Pear Slugs are small, dark, slimy larvae of a Sawfly. They feed on leaf tissue, leaving dry areas between the veins. They are common on Purple Leaf Plum and Cotoneaster. They are most active in the fall, so plant growth is not affected.
Spiny Elm Caterpillars:Caterpillars that are exposed can be killed with contact insecticides, but those rolled inside leaves will not be affected if the spray cannot come in contact with them.
Spiny Elm Caterpillars are dark blue with orange spots and black bristles. They eat leaves of Elm, Willow, and Aspen and can defoliate smaller trees. They are the larvae of the mourning cloak butterfly.
Spring and Fall Cankerworms:Cankerworms that are exposed can be killed with contact insecticides, but those rolled inside leaves will not be affected if the spray cannot come in contact with them. A biological insecticide controls them when they are young and feeding.
Spring and Fall Cankerworms are small caterpillars, usually yellowish-green, that chew small holes in new Manitoba Maple, Elm, Birch and fruit tree leaves. As feeding continues, the holes gradually enlarge until only leaf veins are intact. Trees produce another set of leaves a few weeks later, but severe infestations can weaken a tree. The caterpillars drop on silken threads to move to new areas. They move with a looping motion. Mature larvae of Spring Cankerworms overwinter in the soil and pupate in the very early spring, emerging soon to begin feeding. Fall Cankerworm eggs overwinter on trees and hatch in late May to begin feeding.
Ugly Nest Caterpillars:Ugly Nest Caterpillars that are exposed can be killed with contact insecticides, but those rolled inside leaves will not be affected if the spray cannot come in contact with them.
Ugly Nest Caterpillars on Chokecherry, Pincherry and related trees. The adult is a reddish-orange moth and the larva is a tan caterpillar with a black head. They live in silk-covered tents which are very unsightly.
Red-cheeked Looper:Red-cheeked loopers can be controlled by a contact insecticide when they are present, if damage is enough to warrant it.
Red-cheeked Looper is a slender, dull red caterpillar that chews holes in the leaves of Birch, Willow and Dogwood. It does not do enough damage to cause concern. The adult is a gray moth.
Hydria Undulata:Hydria Undulata can be controlled by a contact insecticide when it is present, if damage is enough to warrant it.
Hydria Undulata is a light purple caterpillar with a brown head. It defoliates willow and poplar, but causes little damage. The adult is a small grayish-yellow moth.
Lithophane Amanda:Lithophane Amanda can be controlled by a contact insecticide when it is present, if damage is enough to warrant it.
Lithophane Amanda is a pale green caterpillar with a bluish-green head, covered with tiny white spots and a lengthwise yellow stripe. It feeds on birch and Willow leaves, but does minimal damage. The adult is dull, gray-brown moth.
Wooly Bear Caterpillars:Wooly Bear Caterpillars can be controlled by a contact insecticide when it is present, if damage is enough to warrant it.
Wooly Bear Caterpillars are black with a wide yellow band in the centre. The adult is a tan tussock moth. The larvae eat leaves of Willow, Manitoba Maple, Birch and Aspen, but cause little damage.
Giant Silkworm Caterpillars:Giant Silkworms can be controlled by a contact insecticide when they are present, if damage is enough to warrant it.
Giant Silkworms are large, pale green and each segment has six bristled pink tubercules. The head is blue-green and there is a pale yellow line along the side of the body. They defoliate Birch, Bur Oak and Willow.
Poplar Bud Gall Mite:Poplar Bud Gall mite cannot be controlled with a chemical. Pruning off the growths is the only control.
Poplar Bud Gall mite creates cauliflower-like galls (swellings) in new leaf clusters. They are caused by minute mites which trigger gall growth in the tree. A gall is the tree's way of protecting itself from an invader. Ends of branches beyond galls may die because the gall can constrict a branch and water cannot move along the branch.
Willow Pinecone Gall:Willow Pinecone Gall cannot be controlled with a chemical. Pruning off the growths is the only control.
Willow Pinecone Gall is cause by a midge. Swellings on the ends of native willows look like pine cones. A gall is the tree's way of protecting itself from an invader. Ends of branches beyond galls may die because the gall can constrict a branch and water cannot move along the branch.
Rose Gall:Rose Gall cannot be controlled with a chemical. Prune the canes down to well below the gall and remove from the garden.
Rose Gall affects shrub roses, most commonly Hansa. It is caused by a specific wasp that secretes a chemical which causes the stem to enlarge. A gall is the tree's way of protecting itself from an invader. Ends of branches beyond galls may die because the gall can constrict a branch and water cannot move along the branch.
Chokecherry Midge:Chokecherry Midge cannot be controlled with a chemical, as the insect is inside the fruit and any chemical affecting it would be eaten by those that eat the fruit (animals and birds as well as people).
Chokecherry Midge causes fruit that is hollow inside, as the larva of the midge live in the fruits as they are developing. It can also affect saskatoons.
Willow Redgall:Willow redgall does no harm to trees other than appearance. They are unsightly but cause no damage. There is no chemical control.
Willow redgall cause fleshy, round, red swellings in the leaves of willow trees. They are caused by a sawfly which inserts the eggs into the fleshy layers of the leaves.
Eriophyid:Eriophyid mite galls are unsightly but cause no damage. There is no chemical control.
Eriophyid mites cause numerous small yellow galls on the leaves of mountain ash.
Parathecabius:Parathecabius Galls cause the leaves to be deformed but there is no danger to the tree. There is no chemical control.
Parathecabius Galls are caused by an aphid. The swellings look like strings of beads at the edges of the leaves of balsam poplar.
Box Elder (Manitoba Maple) Leafgall:Box Elder (Manitoba Maple) Leafgall causes the leaves to be deformed but there is no danger to the tree. There is no chemical control.
Box elder (Manitoba Maple) Leafgall is caused by a midge (a tiny, slender fly) that rolls the leaves and causes elongated swellings on the edges.
Psyllid Galls:Psyllid Galls on roses cause the leaves to be deformed but there is no danger to the plants. There is no chemical control.
Psyllid Galls on rose leaves are hairy swellings that are a curiosity but do no damage.
Oystershell Scale:Oystershell Scale cannot be controlled with chemicals. Cutting off affected branches can be effective if infestation is light, but if they are on many branches or return after several prunings, removing the tree or shrub may be the only effective control.
Oystershell Scale resembles tiny oystershells in clusters, about 3mm long. It is typically on dogwoods. Scale is a hard covering over the eggs of an insect which protects the eggs until they hatch. Crawlers emerge, and move to leaves for a short time in the summer. They spend the rest of their lives immobile on twigs.
Lecanium Scales:Lecanium Scale cannot be controlled with chemicals. Cutting off affected branches can be effective if infestation is light, but if they are on many branches or return after several prunings, removing the tree or shrub may be the only effective control.
Lecanium Scales appear to be hardened dark brown shells 3-6mm diameter. It is common on roses. Scale is a hard covering over the eggs of an insect which protects the eggs until they hatch. Crawlers emerge, and move to leaves for a short time in the summer. They spend the rest of their lives immobile on twigs.
Scurfy Scale:Scurfy Scale cannot be controlled with chemicals. Cutting off affected branches can be effective if infestation is light, but if they are on many branches or return after several prunings, removing the tree or shrub may be the only effective control.
Scurfy Scale is a grayish-white oval pointed at one end. It is usually in dense clusters, and is common on elms. Scale is a hard covering over the eggs of an insect which protects the eggs until they hatch. Crawlers emerge, and move to leaves for a short time in the summer. They spend the rest of their lives immobile on twigs.
Cottony Scale:Cottony Scale cannot be controlled with chemicals. Cutting off affected branches can be effective if infestation is light, but if they are on many branches or return after several prunings, removing the tree or shrub may be the only effective control.
Cottony Scale produces white, waxy secretions which cover their bodies. It is common on maple trees but can infect many others.
Bronze Birch Borer:Bronze Birch Borer cannot be controlled by a chemical. Pruning the top back to healthy growth is the only control.
Bronze Birch Borer is a slender, long beetle, olive green to black, that lays eggs in weakened or dying wood. The creamy white larvae excavate tunnels beneath the bark, producing a series of bumps. The adults chew D-shaped holes through the bark. Upper branches of trees die as the tops are affected the most. This insect is not commonly the cause of tree top death in our area. Lack of water in the fall is a much more common reason for the top of the tree not leafing out in the spring.
Western Ash Bark Beetles:There is no chemical control for Western Ash Bark Beetle. Infected branches should be removed as soon as seen and sealed in a plastic bag before discarding.
Western Ash Bark beetles affect green ash and related trees, but not mountain ash, which are a different family. Trees under stress are most likely to be affected. Leaves on an affected tree branch will wilt suddenly and later die. A ring of small holes like a bracelet around the branch indicates beetle infection.
Poplar Borers:There is no chemical control for Poplar Borer. Affected branches should be removed. Areas where sap is flowing can be cleaned out and left open to heal.
Poplar Borers are long, slender grey beetles stippled with small brown dots. They have very long antennae. They feed on poplar foliage, and then cut crescent-shaped notches in the bark where they deposit eggs. The larvae are creamy white grubs that bore into the heart of the tree, ejecting sawdust as it occurs. Trees infested with poplar borers exude large amounts of brown sap. This does not kill the tree but it weakens it so it can break during windstorms. Woodpeckers are attracted to the tree in search of insects, and ants are attracted to the sap.
Bugs on Evergreens:
Spruce Gall 'Aphids':
Spruce Gall 'Aphids', often called wooly aphids, are actually adelgids. They cause galls (swellings) on the tips of spruce tree branches that resemble small green pineapples at first, then become hard and brown.￼
Yellow-headed Spruce Sawfly Larvae:Yellow-headed Spruce Sawfly Larvae can be controlled with a contact insecticide only when they are present. It may have to be repeated if more are seen later.
Yellow-headed Spruce Sawfly Larvae are small green caterpillars with orange heads that feed on young spruce needles in June. Branch tips with missing needles are unsightly and new needles will not replace those that are lost.
Web Spinning Sawfly:Web Spinning Sawfly webs and dead needles can be removed by a hard stream of a garden hose. By the time the damage is noticed the insects are usually gone. They cannot be controlled by a chemical unless it can be sprayed on the larvae.
Web-spinning Sawfly larva is a striped green caterpillar with a black or brown head that feeds on blue spruce needles during the summer. The masses of frass and debris they produce in the center of the tree are unsightly.
Nesting Pine Sawfly:Nesting Pine Sawfly webs and dead needles can be removed by a hard stream of a garden hose. By the time the damage is noticed the insects are usually gone. They cannot be controlled by a chemical unless it can be sprayed on the larvae.
Nesting Pine Sawfly feed in groups on white pine needles and leave masses of frass, silk and dead needles at the ends of branches.
Larch Sawfly:Larch Sawfly larvae cannot be controlled by a chemical because it cannot come in contact with them inside the branches.
Larch Sawfly larvae are greyish green with black heads. The adult is a black sawfly with an orange band around the abdomen and orange marking on the legs. She inserts eggs into the elongating shoots of larch trees in early June, causing them to curl downwards. The developing larvae eat the needles.
Pine Pitch Moth:Pine Pitch Moth galls should be pruned back to the next branch below the gall. The branch beyond the gall will die because water cannot get past the gall, and will usually break off in a strong wind.
Pine Pitch Moth is found most often in association with western gall rust (see diseases). The larvae are greyish green with dark spots and reddish brown heads. Resin flow occurs from active galls as the larvae tunnel in below the bark, producing resin masses. The tunnelling often causes breakage of branches.
White Spotted Sawyer:White Spotted Sawyer attacks only dead or dying trees and does no damage to living trees. No control is necessary.
White Spotted Sawyer is a slender black beetle with very long antennae. It attacks dead and dying spruce, pine, douglas fir and larch. It feeds on bark and foliage, then lays eggs in cracks in the bark. The greyish-white larvae enter the sapwood of the tree and tunnel further into the tree for two years. Chips and frass are expelled through holes in the bark.
White Pine Weevil:White Pine Weevil cannot be controlled by a chemical. If the leader is pruned back to just above a healthy branch, it can be bent up and tied to a stick to form a new leader.
White Pine Weevil is a large white larva that lives within the leader of spruce trees and chews the soft tissue inside it. The leader curls over and the needles die by late summer. Small exit holes can be seen where adult weevils have emerged.
Spider Mites:Spider Mites are not insects, but members of the spider family. Frequent hosing the tree with a hard spray of a garden hose can keep them under control. If chemical control is desired, use a mite killer, not an insecticide.
Spider Mites are not insects but members of the spider family. They have eight legs, not six! They are small, either white or red, and form fine webs between the needles or between small branches. They can infest junipers and spruce.
Aphids:Aphids can be controlled with a contact insecticide sprayed well into the tree. Check the trees regularly for more aphids and spray as needed to eliminate them.
Aphids can attack Pyramidal Junipers. They are rather large, black aphids, on the bark on the interior of the plant, so often unnoticed until needles become brown. They should be eliminated, as they can do considerable damage.
Pine Needle Scale:Pine Needle Scale cannot be controlled by insecticides. The chemical cannot reach the insect underneath the scale. The tree can survive for may years with scale but there is a danger of it spreading to neighbouring trees. A badly infected tree may have to be removed.
Pine Needle Scale is an insect that is covered with an elongated white covering. It attacks pine trees particularly. Eventually the tree becomes less healthy as needles discolor and drop.
Bugs on Flowers, Vegetables and Lawns:
Slugs:Keep the soil free of any mulch and dead plant material, and water in the morning, to allow the soil to dry before nightfall, as they cannot move easily over dry soil. They cannot move across sand or diatomaceous earth, so a band of either will keep them away from particular plants. If slug bait is used, be sure it is covered well to prevent dogs and cats from eating it. Do not use near edible plants.
Slugs are slimy grey creatures that chew holes in the leaves of many plants. They need cool temperatures and moisture to survive, so are much more common in rainy weather and places that stay too wet because of poor drainage.
Ants:Ants do not eat or kill plants, although their tunneling may disturb roots. Their mounds make grass unattractive and hard to mow. They are neither harmful nor beneficial to peonies.
Every summer we have a flood of people looking to control ants in their yards. Ants don't do any real damage to plants above ground, it's the roots where the issue lies.
They burrow into in lawns and in gardens to set up nests and this is where damage is caused. They make lawns and beds unsightly well. The main issue with ants is their prolific abundance and their methodical nature to collect food from whatever source they can. They leave a chemical trail to the food source, so once a single ant has found a meal, basically, all the ants know where to go by following that signal. It can be into your garage, shed and even your home. Once a colony is set up they are hard to control based on pure numbers.
There are ways to deal with ants: traps, sprays, diatomaceous earth, topical chemicals such as Pyrethrin and drowning out the nest with water and a root feeder. All of these methods will help control the ants but to move them out takes a lot of work and some are not the most environmentally sound choices.
According to our well know Horticulturalist John Ostrowdun, Nematodes are by far the most effective control for ants.
Nematodes are a biological control that you apply with water to any ground that contains ants. Nematodes are microscopic worms that move through the soil structure that attack baby ant larvae. They are completely natural and will not harm any other plant or animal in your yard. They are biologically the anti-ant. Once Ant Nematodes are introduced into the soil structure then they do their thing attacking the larvae which leave that colony no choice but to move shop and set up somewhere else. Effectively, you are making your yard unholy ground for them and they'll quickly move along.
You apply nematodes through a sprayer and once applied all you need do is continue to water your yard for a few days following. Nematodes travel via water inside the soil structure. Adding water over the next few days ensures they are able to move freely enough to do their job.
Tip: Use a dedicated nematode mixing applicator. Any sprayer that has been in contact with a chemical source can destroy the Nematodes. Always read the instructions.
- Attacks and kills young ant larvae in nests and repels adult ants from building new nests.
- Nematodes are naturally-occurring microscopic organisms present in soils, completely harmless to non-target species.
- Apply when ant activity is visible on top of lawn or garden borders; typically March through October.
- Packaged in 100% bio-degradable potato and rice-based plastic.
- Covers 1,000 sq. ft.
- NEW NON-REFRIGERATED: Do not store in sunlight.
Chemical control is available but some can be harmful to plants and some cannot be used near food plants. Read the label carefully before use.
Root Maggots:Floating row covers (spun fabric covering plants) can prevent the flies from laying eggs in the soil and eliminate damage if no affected vegetables have been grown in the area for at least a year. Soil dusts are also available.
Root Maggots chew tunnels in onions, turnips, radishes, cabbage, etc. They are the larvae of grayish flies. Damaged plants are less healthy and tunnels in the roots of edible plants make them unsuitable for food. Small plants may wilt and die.
Raspberry Currant Worms:Dusts and sprays suitable for use on fruit can eliminate them on contact.
Raspberry Currant Worms are small green caterpillars with black heads and many black spots. They eat the foliage very quickly, often stripping the plant.
Tomato Hornworms:Tomato Hornworms do no particular harm, and can be safely ignored in a garden. Watch for the moths that come later!
Tomato Hornworms are huge green caterpillars with 'horns' on their rear ends and many small feet. They become beautiful sphynx moths.
Delphinium Caterpillars:Delphinium Caterpillars are small green caterpillars that eat new growth on young delphinium plants. They are the same color as the leaves and not always easy to see.
If you allow the plants to grow to a height of about 18 inches, then cut them back to about 6", the insects will not infect new growth, as there is only one generation. The plants will take a little longer to bloom but will be free of the caterpillars. Alternatively, insecticide dust can be applied to new growth every few days from the time rosettes of leaves have formed until they reach a height of about 18'.
Cutworms:Use physical barriers such as milk cartons or tin cans around susceptible plants. Dusts are available to put in soil, but not do not use near edible plants.
Cutworms are large caterpillars which curl up in ball when disturbed. They live in the soil and emerge at night. They chew plants off at ground level, and some can also climb plants. Adults are white moths.
Sod Webworm:An insecticide in a liquid or powder form appropriate for lawns will control sod webworms.
Sod Webworm is a short, thick gray caterpillar with a burgundy colored head. It lives beneath the soil and chews off roots of lawns. Irregular brown patches in the lawn signal possible damage. If you try to pull up the grass by the roots and it comes up easily, with few roots, sod webworm may be the culprit. Small light-colored moths flying close to the ground when the lawn is being mowed also indicate their presence.
Flea Beetles:Insecticides suitable for food crops may be used to control them.
Flea Beetles are small black beetles that jump like fleas when disturbed. They chew tiny round holes in leaves of vegetables. If a large proportion of the leaf surface is gone, it can weaken small plants. Larvae feed on plant roots.
Larder Beetles:Larder Beetles can be controlled by keeping possible food sources in sealed plastic or metal containers. Sprays for controlling household insects can be sprayed around baseboards.
Larder Beetles are fuzzy dark brown and have a pale yellow band, with dark spots on it, across their backs. They feed on materials containing protein, such as dead insects, but they also eat cereals, dry pet food and rice as well.
Tuber Flea Beetles:Tuber Flea Beetles overwinter in garden residue on the soil. Keeping the area free of hiding places will reduce their numbers. Do not plant potatoes in the same area for several years.
Tuber flea beetles resemble flea beetles and cause similar damage. They feed on potato tubers, causing shallow tunnels that make the potatoes inedible.
Colorado Potato Beetles:Dusts and sprays are available that are safe on edible plants. They can also be picked off plants by hand.
Colorado Potato Beetles and their larvae eat the leaves of potato plants. The beetles are hard-shelled with yellow and black stripes running lengthwise. Orange/yellow eggs are laid underside of leaves. The larvae are red, armadillo-like creatures that eat voraciously.
Strawberry Root Weevils:Dusts or sprays suitable for use on food can be used for control.
Strawberry Root Weevils look like slender black beetles with long snouts. The larvae cause the most problems, feeding on roots and crowns, causing stunted leaves.
Leaf Cutter Bees:Leaf Cutter Bees cause no harm unless the plants are being raised for show. There is no chemical control.
Leaf Cutter Bees cut perfect circles from rose leaves to use in their nests. They cause no harm and can be safely ignored.
Carpenter Ants:Carpenter Ants cause no damage to healthy trees. They create nests in the wood of decaying trees.
Carpenter Ants excavate their nests in wood, usually stumps, fallen logs or diseased trees. They enter through cracks or scars, and do not destroy healthy wood, so damage usually consists of weakening already decaying trees.
Caddis Flies:Caddis Flies cause no harm to plants or people but they are a real nuisance. There is no registered insecticide for either the flies or for use near the river. Using yellow outdoor light bulbs stops them from swarming near homes, as they are not attracted to yellow lights.
Caddis flies are a nuisance in the summer in areas bordering the Bow River. Larvae live under water, and the emerging adults swarm at dusk for about two weeks. They cause no harm to people or plants, and are a food source for fish and birds.
If an insect is indeed the culprit, identifying the type of insect ensures that the best treatment, chemical or other, is used.
If you think an insect may be causing a problem on your house plants, ask for help. Be sure you identify the insect before you use any chemical sprays. It may not be an insect at all: fungal infections are often mistaken as insect damage. Insecticides are ineffective in controlling fungal related problems. Cultural errors, watering too often or not enough, or too much or not enough light, could be the reason your plants are not doing well. These problems can only be corrected by changing cultural practices. If an insect is indeed the culprit, identifying the type of insect ensures that the best treatment, chemical or other, is used. If you are not sure, bring in a sample, a leaf with an insect on it, or the whole plant if it is small, and we will assist you in identifying and treating your pest problems.
Integrated Pest Management:
Identifying the pest is the important first step.
Integrated pest management is all about using the safest method you can to control or eliminate a pest. This can include recognizing that what you see is not harmful to the plant and can be safely ignored. It might mean using a stream of water to dislodge insects, picking beetles off plants, or using spun polyester fabric to keep insects off vegetables so they aren't eaten by them, instead of us. In some cases, if a pesticide will prevent serious harm to the plant, it will help us decide the safest product to use to solve the problem, while doing as little damage as possible to the plant, us, and the environment around us.
Identifying the pest is the important first step. There are good books available, we have knowledgeable staff that can help you, and photographs of all of the most common pests are now on our website and can be found in this section. It is also important to recognize that all holes in leaves are not caused by insects, and that plants can survive very well with holes in their leaves. As long as there is enough leaf surface for photosynthesis, part of a leaf is just fine. If there are holes in leaves, that doesn't necessarily mean that an insect is there at that time. It may have eaten its fill and have gone by the time you notice the damage. There is no point in spraying a hole! Some holes are caused by a short-lived fungus. Spraying the tree with an insecticide, when a fungus which is no longer a problem caused the holes, is not going to help.
Insects such as ladybugs are wonderful aphid eaters and should be treasured. Remember, though, that you can't use insecticides in your garden and then expect the ladybugs to be happy there! Do you know what ladybug larvae look like? If you see little dark blue armadillos with orange spots on them, welcome them. They eat more aphids than their parents do.
Keeping plants healthy makes them less susceptible to pest problems. Most fungus lives best in wet, cool weather. Our nights are very cool and fungus will thrive on moist, cool leaves. Watering in the morning, when the weather will hopefully become warmer and drier, will make it much less likely that a fungus will grow. Some insects are drawn to plants that are under stress. Giving them the best growing conditions you can will cut down on damage. Some varieties of a plant are resistant to common insects or diseases, and are worth considering.
If you decide that a chemical pesticide is appropriate, it is very important to READ THE LABEL! The manufacturer has gone to a great deal of effort to find the most useful and safe concentration to use, and to identify plants that it can be used for. Making the mixture stronger won't work better, it likely won't be as effective, and the plant may suffer from too strong a concentration. The label will tell you what plants it can be used on, what insects it controls, when and how often to use it and what the concentration should be. Do it!
Ask us for help if you are concerned about a pest problem. We'll help you sort it out. Happy gardening!