IDENTIFYING THE CULPRIT
Over the past couple of weeks, I have lost count of how many people have come into the garden center with samples of leaves that “aren’t right” and have holes. Customers come to us for professional advice as to what is going on with the plant. If you are not sure what type of insect is attacking your plants, just bring us a sample and let one of our many experts recommend a remedy to help stop the damage. I can’t stress enough the importance of proper insect identification and the proper suggested product for control.
There are three main types of bad bugs: chewing, rasping, and sucking insects. Without identifying the culprit a gardener could buy the wrong product and not solve the problem and, at the same time, cause more damage to the plant. Invest a little time to find out what’s eating your plant and what—if anything—to do about it. Just don’t go and randomly start spraying everything.
Leaf damage being done by assorted chewing insects is what I am seeing the most of with examples being brought to me by customers. A chewing insect is any insect that has teeth. Most winged chewing insects, such as beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, feed only on leaf tissue, working from the leaf edge toward the center and eventually to the leaf stem.
Rasping insects are mites, snails, slugs, and thrips. They will scrape off the surface of the leaves. They suck up the fluids from the top layer until all the green tissue has been consumed, leaving only the skeleton behind.
Sucking insects are the most common. This category includes aphids and whiteflies. Sucking insects have small mouthparts and they pierce the leaves and stems to suck out the plant fluids. Large populations of aphids or whiteflies can cause leaf curling, yellowing, or distorted leaves. Most sucking insects also produce large quantities of a sticky substance known as honeydew. This substance often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus.
WE’RE HERE FOR ALL YOUR INSECT QUESTIONS
Like I stated earlier, we are warming up and with the warming temperatures come assorted insects. Just because you see no evidence of insect damage on your plant today does not mean you will not have damage tomorrow or next week. The best remedy is with observation and inspection.
We have insect control products in our garden pharmacy. Some of the products are considered organic and eco-friendly. Please ask for assistance if you are unsure as to what is causing problems on your plants.