Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Oct. 19, 2021

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Gardening with Allen: Products, water can banish pests


I found sticky juice on my car and looked up to see it was coming from my tree. The tree leaves did not look normal and I found little green bugs on the leaves. There were also lots of ants on the tree. What do you recommend?

During hot summer weather insects multiply rapidly and can do a lot of damage before you realize they are there. Aphids (often called plant lice) are small soft bodied sucking insects usually concentrated on new growth. They are usually green, but can also be pink or black. Aphids exude a sweet juice which drips on the ground. Ants are often associated with aphids because they use the juice for food.

Mites are tiny eight legged pests which suck juices almost entirely on the underside of leaves. They are especially bad on needle-leaf evergreens, Potentilla, Euonymus, roses and marigolds. Yellow and brown mottling on leaves or needles is the most common symptom. Hold a white piece of paper under affected growth and shake. You will see tiny specks which move.

With a nozzle on the end of the hose you can wash these two pests off onto the ground and they will not find their way back up onto the plants. However, soap or detergent will do a more thorough job of removing them. You can make your own mixture using dish wash detergent. You can also purchase insecticidal soap. You will need to follow with another application in about 2 weeks after the eggs hatch.

Neem Oil is a natural pesticide that is effective in controlling aphids, mites and many other pests. Chemical pesticides include Malathion, Carbaryl (Sevin), and Acephate.

The thrip is another tiny insect which lives inside flower buds. If you have flower buds which fail to open properly, shake a bud over white paper to reveal these long bodied insects. They are hard to reach with a spray, so a systemic insecticide such as acephate or spinosad is needed to control them.

Slugs and snails must be retreated regularly or they eat holes in leaves. They only feed at night or in high moisture conditions, so you seldom see any signs except holes and their slimy trails. Snail and slug bait lasts about 2 weeks and then must be re-applied. The most common slug baits contain Mesurol. However, baits with iron phosphate are safer for use around pets and wildlife.

Earwigs with their rear end pincers look ferocious, although I have handled them and never received any injury. They also feed at night. Two of their favorite foods are flowers and corn silks. The earwig is best controlled by cutworm and earwig bait.

Dead twigs and branches in woody plants may indicate borer damage. Borers eat the tissue under the bark. Cutting through the bark may reveal tiny tunnels. Cyfluthrin, and Spinosad are two systemic chemicals which can be used to get inside tissue and kill borers.

You will need to look at the list of ingredients on pesticide labels to find generic insecticide names.