WITH WARMER DAYS COMES THE CROP OF BUGGY PESTS
Here we are the end of May after Memorial Day weekend and the “unofficial” start of summer. And, hotter days. Unfortunately, it is also the beginning of bugs on our plants and flowers. It is frustrating to watch plants we’ve struggled so hard to get going get attacked by insects or suffer from fungal diseases. This past couple of weeks I have lost count of how many customers have come in with plant samples showing symptoms of insect or disease damage. The big question is ‘how do we tell what’s eating our plants?” Customers come to us to get professional advice as to what is going on with the plant.
Basically, there are 3 main types of bad bugs – CHEWING, RASPING, AND SUCKING. Each type of insect causes different damages to the plant. If you are not sure what is causing your plant problems then it is always best to bring us a sample and let us try to diagnose the cause and then make the right chemical recommendation.
If you decide to spray, there are a couple of things to pay attention to. First and most important is to READ THE LABEL of the product you are about to use. Believe it or not, this is a Virginia state law. If you don’t understand something, ask! NEVER MIX THE SPRAY STRONGER THAN THE LABEL INDICATES. More is not better, and you may damage the plants you are trying to save. Be thorough, paying special attention to spraying the undersides of the leaves as well. Spray from the upwind side of the area to avoid having the spray blow back onto you. Use a decent sprayer and keep it clean.
Remember, general insecticides will kill the insect but can’t kill any insect eggs that may be present. So, when you spray, you will eliminate the bugs that are there but the next generation of them will be hatching within a few days. What this means is that when you spray once you are committed to another spraying a few days later. This way you will kill the second generation before they have a chance to mature enough to lay more eggs. In general, one spraying is usually not enough.
When you have an insect or other problem with a plant, the best way to get the correct solution is to bring a sample of the insect or damage to The Great Big Greenhouse. Have the sample(s) in a sealed plastic bag. These samples will avoid guesswork. We have many knowledgeable and talented associates here at The Great Big Greenhouse and this sample will give us to best shot in making sure we diagnose the problem correctly.
I can’t stress enough the importance of proper insect identification and the proper suggested product for control.
8 thoughts on “GARDEN TIME with DOUG – Are You Being Bugged Yet?”
Please, please recommend to customers that they try organic methods first. Poisonous chemical sprays should be a last resort. General insecticides kill more than “bad bugs”–killing butterflies, ladybugs, and other desirable or harmless insects and the animals that eat them. Chemicals also drift to other locations in the wind and can be washed into creeks, ponds and rivers. I know that chemical sprays are part of your profit, but isn’t a reputation for honesty and doing the least environmental harm even better?
Yes, I have personal experience, as I am old enough to remember when the answer to every plant problem was to spray it. If that didn’t work, another spray was recommended. Repeated sprayings killed nearly everything in our yard; even birds stopped visiting. It took nearly TWO YEARS of organic gardening with ZERO spraying for wildlife to return to our yard. That was almost 60 years ago. I still garden organically and have few insect or disease problems. I do lose an occasional plant, but that is much better than losing all insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and microscopic soil life.
There are many trained Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists in this area who can answer questions about insects, diseases and remedies. Please take advantage of them as well as resources available at Green Spring Gardens Park, Meadowlark Gardens and park nature centers. THANK YOU!
You say to bring the samaples of damaged plants to The Great Big Green House.
Where is it?
We are located in North Chesterfield at the corner of Huguenot and Robious Roads. If we are convenient then we would love to see you. Doug
I have Harlequin bugs, destroy my cleomi. How do I get rid of these?
Since beetles are a chewing insect you could try one of the dusting type insecticides such as Sevin or Captain Jack’s. Since it seems that you see the beetle you can use a liquid insecticide such as Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. Most insecticides are contact killing so you will have to actually hit the insect with the spray. Good luck. You will be successful. Doug
I am not sure where you live. But, our garden center is in North Chesterfield at the corner of Huguenot and Robious Roads. If we are convenient for you then we would love to have you stop by and let us see if we can help. Take care, Doug
I fully support Barbara Farron’s very intelligent comment, part of which I have reproduced below:
“[R]ecommend to customers that they try organic methods first. Poisonous chemical sprays should be a last resort. General insecticides kill more than “bad bugs”–killing butterflies, ladybugs, and other desirable or harmless insects and the animals that eat them. Chemicals also drift to other locations in the wind and can be washed into creeks, ponds and rivers.”
I am also old enough to remember when there used to be more fireflies, butterflies, bees, and birds. (We had too few bees in my neighborhood last year to even successfully pollinate my small vegetable garden!) Remember – when the bees go, they’re taking all of us with them …..
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and this quote from Barbara Farron. I can’t agree more when it comes to eliminating chemical sprays when possible. Slowly, the general public is becoming more aware of needing to apply more organic practices with their gardening.
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