Our Tree and Shrub Manager states that we are seeing signs of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar active in our area, not to be confused with bagworms or webworms. They build “tent” like nest in the crotches of the trees where they feed. These caterpillars are leaf chewers, and while they can defoliate a tree when the population is high, rarely is this feeding fatal and a healthy tree will push out new growth.
The Eastern Tent Caterpillars emerge and feed early-mid spring and then move on in their lifecycle, while the tents remain until they weather away.
They mainly feed on Maples, Cherries, Plums, and Apples. Virginia Green controls them by spraying susceptible trees with horticultural oil during Tree and Shrub applications. The oil smothers and kills the eggs. Cultural control is as simple as breaking open the nest, it provides access for the caterpillar’s natural predators.
If you would like a quote for our Tree and Shrub program, please contact our office.
One of the pesky overwintering pests is the scale insect. It usually overwinters as an egg or in the adult form. The winter months are a good time to control this pest, when the plants are dormant. They can be found on many types of plants like “Manhattan” euonymus, cherry trees, burning bushes, and privet.
How do I get rid of this sap sucking pest?
One of the best and safest ways to control it, is to use a Horticultural oil treatment. How does it work? A trained applicator treats the plant, especially at the areas where the scale overwinters. These areas may include the stems and leaves or needles. The Horticultural oil coats the overwintering stage of the insect, closing off its ability to breathe. In the end, the scale insect suffocates. Horticultural oil treatments usually control up to 90% of the pest during this time of year. Spring, summer, and fall usually clean up the rest.
If my applicator gets all the scale in a year, why do I need more applications after that? That is a great question. Scale insects are in extremely large numbers in the landscape and travel from area to area through the air, rain, on birds, and even from people. Your plants may be free from the scale insect for a little while, but it can be back quickly from even your neighbor’s plants or the local forest. If you know your neighbor had scale insect too, you can refer them to Virginia Green and earn a referral bonus.
In conclusion, Horticultural oil can help control your scale insects and put some money in your pocket by referring your neighbor to control his or her scale insects too!
Where have all the insects gone, long time passing? Where have all the insects gone long time ago? Where have all the insects gone, gone to hibernation everyone? Like the old Peter, Paul and Mary song about where all the flowers have gone, the insects have gone a similar, but yet different path. Young girls didn’t pick the insects, but the insects have gone to hibernation.
Insects have various ways to survive the winter.
Migration is one way insects escape the cold temperatures. The Monarch butterfly is one insect that moves from cooler climates to warmer ones, but others migrate northward from southern states. These insects are mostly crop pests.
Overwintering as immature larvae is another way some insects survive the cold weather. Hiding in heavy leaf litter or mulch is a way some larvae protect themselves through the winter, such as the wooly bear caterpillar. Others replace the water in their bodies with glycerol, an antifreeze-like substance. Some larvae, like grubs just burrow deeper into the soil to escape the cold.
Another way insects overwinter is as eggs. Not many insects lay eggs that can survive cold temperatures, but the praying mantis is one. This is a beneficial insect that lays its eggs in a tan spongy mass near the ends of branches, especially on shrubs.
Overwintering as pupae is yet another way insects survive the winter. Moths in the silkworm family survive this way. We often refer to the pupae as cocoons. You may find cocoons attached to stationary items in your garden or garage.
Hibernation is a way adult insect survive the cold weather. Lady bird beetles, stink bugs and boxelder bugs are well known to hibernate, sometimes in high numbers. They are often attracted to white houses and buildings, hanging out at window sills trying to get inside. Many large wasps seek shelter in eaves and attics of houses and barns. Others hide in cracks of trees, mulch and other shelters during the winter months. Honey bees form clusters in the hive and vibrate the wings to generate heat to stay warm, but they still need food and water inside the hive to survive.
So insects are able to survive winter, especially if the temperatures are stable. Shelters benefit the insects, as well as snow which blankets the ground and keeps the temperatures surprisingly constant. So the insects are still around in the winter, but not as active. They will be back out in the spring and summer to either pollinate those flowers or destroy them. That’s why Virginia Green Lawn Cares Tree and Shrub Program is there to help you have healthy plants next year.
Wow, the hot and humid days of summer are over and so are the insect pests. Not true. There can be pests on your landscape plants throughout the year. They may not be in the life stage that is actively feeding on your plants, but the pest may still be there.
Photo credit: University of Minnesota Extension.
What type of pests would I find in autumn in my landscape? There might be some pests still around from the summer months like aphids, lacebugs, scales, and mites. There also might be cooler weather pests such as boxelder bugs, adelgids, fall webworms, magnolia and tuliptree scales, and spruce spider mites.
Here at Virginia Green Lawn Care, we treat for all of these on plants, but the one that seems to be more attracted to your house than your plants is the boxelder bug. This native nuisance pest primarily feeds on boxelder trees. The adults are 3/8 inch long and black with reddish wing margins. They prefer to overwinter in sheltered places such as leaf litter, wood piles, garden sheds and your home. The color they are most attracted to is white; white siding, window frames and doors. They get inside your home outbuildings and hibernate inside by crawling through vents and small cracks.
When and where should I be monitoring for this nuisance pest? Check on trunks of boxelder trees that might be surrounding your home. A boxelder tree leaf looks similar to a poison ivy leaf with a red stem, but the leaves are typically not glossy. The tree looks similar to that of a maple except for the leaves. Also look on the south side of white buildings or south side white window frames that they may use for “sunning” in autumn.
Do they cause harm to your plants? Typically the answer is no. The only plant that may show some damage is the boxelder tree, but this is uncommon. The major problem occurs when the bugs invade buildings in the fall to overwinter. They do not bite or sting, but may stain fabrics when crushed.
How do I control these native nuisance? If the population is high around your property, the first thing is to remove any female boxelder trees surrounding your home. On buildings wash the bugs off with a soap spray. Test your house paint first for staining possibilities. You may have to repeat this a few times.
Do you have tress and shrubs? Give us a call today for a free Tree and Shrub Program estimate. We treat your landscape plants for pests year round.
Now that autumn is here, there are still some insect pests that are out there seeking to attack your landscape plants. Some are pests lingering from the summer and others come out in the cooler fall temperatures.
What are some of these pests? There are lace bugs, which attack azaleas, pieris japonicas, pyracanthas and cotoneasters. They have several generations per year, and they don’t die off till the first heavy frost. There are also scale insects that are still active, especially after the hot dry August. Two species of scale don’t become active until the fall months. Both of these typically attack magnolias. There are also spruce spider mites that attack various species of spruce.
How do we fight these sap sucking pests? We here at Virginia Green Lawn Care treat for the lace bugs as needed throughout the season. We use contact and systemic type insecticides to control this pest. As for the scale insects we use horticultural oil. Finally for the mites we use a miticide or horticultural oil. To control these pests and other ones throughout the year contact your lawn technician or our office for a free estimate. Let us help you control your tree and shrub pests and help keep your plants healthy.
It is mid to late summer, and I’m seeing thick webbing in some of my trees and shrubs. What is causing the thick webbing near the end of the branches? Is it bagworms, or tent caterpillars or some type of spider? No, it’s most likely fall webworms.
The first generation starts in May, which is usually small and goes unnoticed. They are normally on the south side of plants and form webbing over the terminal ends of branches. Look again from August through October for the second generation, which may be large and much more noticeable.
The adult fall webworm is a small moth with white wings that sometimes have black wings. The larvae or caterpillar are the ones do most of the plant damage. Mature caterpillars are about one inch long and may appear in two color forms: those with black heads and yellowish whit bodies and those with red heads and brown bodies. They are covered with long silky gray hairs.
The caterpillars produce a web of fine silk over the terminal ends of plants. They only feed inside the silken web, which they enlarge as they grow. The webs may become messy and not liked for esthetic reasons, but usually don’t affect plant growth. The dry webs may hang in plants into the winter months.
The fall webworm usually attacks trees. Some of its preferred hosts are sweet gum, willow, oak, linden, river birches, some maples, fruit trees and sometimes hollies. There are over 100 species of deciduous forest and shade trees that may be attacked by this native moth caterpillar.
There are a few ways to control these moth caterpillars. Pruning out webbed terminals when monitoring your plants. Hand or poke pruners are useful with this method. The ’10 year old’ method is another. Take a stick and use it to pull the webbing out and place in a soapy bucket of water for a few hours. Thus only partially gets the caterpillars out of the plants. Allow Virginia Green Lawn Care to diagnose and treat your plants that have the fall webworm without Premium Tree & Shrub Program, especially the hard to reach ones. The last way is just to let Mother Nature take its course. Whichever method you use, allow Virginia Green Lawn Care to help your diagnose your pest problems with our Premium Tree and Shrub Program.
Spider mites are often thought of as insects, but they are not. They have eight legs instead of six, thus they are more closely related to spiders than insects. There are typically three life stage to spider mite: eggs, immatures that look like adults but are smaller and adults. There several types of spider mites, but here we will only address boxwood twospotted spider mites.
The boxwood spider mite is about the size of a period and are yellow-tan. Their eggs overwinter on leaves and twigs. They prefer English boxwoods and sometimes American, but rarely Japanese ones.
The boxwood spider mite feeding causes a yellow stippling of leaves. In heavy infestations, entire leaves may turn mostly yellowish white, and leaves may prematurely drop.
In the winter, look at the bottom of leaves showing stippling from the previous season for yellow eggs. In spring and early summer, look on the leaf top and bottom of new growth for yellowish mites. One way to monitor is to place a whit sheet of paper under some branches and then beat on it a few times. Pull the paper out and allow any debris to fall off the paper due to gravity, then swipe your hand across the paper. If any smears appear, then you mostly likely have mites and the boxwoods should be treated. Their monitoring process is called “the beat test”.
The twospotted spider mites are bigger then the boxwood spider mites. They are bigger that a period or about 1/2 mm long. They are greenish yellow with a black spot on each side of the body in the growing season. The eggs are white to yellow. They are known to attack annual and perennial flowers, many deciduous shrubs and some trees. One of their favorite shrubs is the burning bush euonymus.
Spider mites suck the leaf juices, causing white-to-yellow stipples to appear. When there are large infestations, the stippling may turn the leaves white to yellow to grayish brown and die.
The twospotted spider mite likes the weather hot and humid. They often start on the inside of a plant that is dense from many years of shearing. Examine the plant for stippling and any signs of mites on the bottom of the leaves. Also use “the beat test” to determine if spider mites are present. Webbing may appear, but may not be as visible as real spider webs usually are.
How are spider mites controlled? We here at Virginia Green Lawn Care use a dormant oil in late fall and winter to control overwintering stages of this pest. During the rest of the year, we use a miticide and/or a summer oil to control the active stages. These sprays help to control the spider mites and are less harmful to beneficial such as lady beetles and pytoseiid mites.
If you have boxwoods, burning bush euonymus and other plants you suspect have mite problems, allow us here at Virginia Green Lawn Care to help you monitor and care for them.
The Bagworm often gets mixed up with the fall webworm. Their life cycles cross paths during the summer months. They not only differ in their appearance, but they differ in the type of silken structure that they produce. The bagworm caterpillar is dark brown and forms a cocoon-like bag that hangs from the host plant, while the fall webworm is yellowish or lighter brown covered with long silky gray hairs that builds a larger silken tent over the branches of the plant where they feed.
The eggs usually hatch in June, but this year some may have hatched out in May. They hatch out from last year’s old bags. The new born caterpillars will start to firm small bags on the outer foliage on plants in full sun. The new bags are covered with plant parts from the host plant that they are feeding on throughout their life. One generation occurs each year.
The bagworm moth can cause serious damage to many types of plants. It feeds on cedars, arborvitaes, junipers, Leyland Cypress, white pines and other conifers. They have been known to feed on sycamores, locusts, willows, oaks, maples and many more trees and shrubs.
The damage is most serious and obvious on foundation conifers, such as arborvitaes and junipers. They may defoliate branches or even entire plants. On very large deciduous trees and shrubs, defoliation is usually less evident.
How do we control these pests? In light infestations, they can be handpicked and destroyed. In light or heavy infestations, we at Virginia Green Lawn Care treat with an insecticide. Once treated the bags may remain on the plant and take years to disappear, but the caterpillar is dead.
How do I know if the old bag on my plants have eggs in them or not? Old bags usually look grayish or brown. Active bagworm bags have green plant material attach as camouflage on the outside. The larger bags are usually one to two inches are the ones that might have eggs in them. These bags tend to be higher up on the host plants. When they hatch out in late spring and you see little bags hanging on the outside branches of the host plants, then you know you have active bagworms. We at Virginia Green Lawn Care we be out to treat these pests sometime from Tree and Shrub Round 4 – 7. You can pull old bags off during the fall, winter and early spring months to help assure you that bagworms won’t defoliate your trees and shrubs.
The Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica Newman, is a widespread and destructive pest of turf and ornamental plants in the United States. It is also a pest of some fruit trees, gardens, and has a total host range of more than 300 plant species. Adult Japanese beetles feed on foliage, flowers, and fruits. Leaves are typically skeletonized or left with only tough network of veins. The larvae, commonly known as white grubs, primarily feed on roots of grasses often destroying lawns. White grubs can be found in mulch beds and do not cause any significant damage.
First detected in the United States in a nursery near Riverton, New Jersey in 1916, they have spread to many other states east of the Mississippi River. Favorable climate, availability of wide variety of host plants, and lack of important natural enemies have influenced the spread of thee Japanese beetle.
The adult is a broadly oval beetle and is a bright metallic green, with bronze or coppery-brown wing covers. Adults emerge from late June to early July. Mating begins soon after emergence as females release powerful pheromones that immediately attract a large number of males. In an attempt to mate, the attracted males form around the unmated female, forming clusters of beetles.
After mating, the female can lay up to 60 eggs over her life time. She burrows into the soil at a depth of 2-4 inches and prefers low moist soil conditions. These eggs hatch in 10-14 days and begin feeding of the roots of the lawn. White grubs can be found near the soil surface and have a distinct C-shaped appearance. They will continue to feed until the fall months and burrow down to overwinter. In the spring, as the soils warm, they will return to the surface and feed for another 4-6 weeks before pupating into the adult stage (Japanese beetle).
Both adults and larvae cause plant damage, but the host and nature of damage are usually different. Adults cause damage on foliage and flowers of a wide range of hosts and are most active on warm sunny days. The feeding on the upper leaf surface usually results in skeletonization. The grubs, which primarily feed on roots of grasses cause considerable damage to pasture, lawn and golf courses. Feeding damage on roots reduces the ability of grass to take up enough water to withstand stresses of hot and dry weather, and result in dead patches.
Japanese beetle traps are useful in reducing small, recently established, or isolated populations. However, their correct placement is important, as lures and traps placed adjacent to host plants attract more beetles and result in heavier damage. Virginia Green does not recommend the use of these traps to control beetles since it is considered ineffective.
Virginia Green controls provides various programs to help reduce the population of both Japanese beetles and the larval stage (White Grubs).
Aphids, or plant lice, are small, soft-bodied insects. There are hundreds of different species of aphids, some of which attack only one host plant while others attack numerous hosts. Most aphids are about 1/10 inch long (2.54 mm), and though green and black are the most common colors, they may be gray, brown, pink, red, yellow, or lavender.
Aphids feed in clusters and generally prefer new, succulent shoots or young leaves. Some species, known as wooly aphids, are covered with white, waxy filaments, which they produce from special glands.
Aphids have unusual and complex life cycles that allow them to build up tremendous populations in relatively short periods of time. Most species overwinter as fertilized eggs glued to stems or other parts of plants.
Aphids feed by sucking up plant juices through a food channel in their mouth. At the same time, they inject saliva into the host. High infestations may result in leaf curl, wilting, stunting of shoot growth, and delay in production of flowers and fruit, as well as a general decline in plant vigor. Some aphids are also important vectors of plant diseases, transmitting pathogens in the feeding process. A dozen or more generations are typical in Virginia.
A sticky glaze of honeydew may collect on lower leaves, outdoor furniture, cars, and other objects below aphid feeding sites. Honeydew coated objects soon become covered by one or more brown fungi known as sooty molds. Crusts of sooty mold are unsightly on man-made objects, and they can interfere with photosynthesis in leaves. Needles and twigs are sometimes completely covered with sooty mold.
If you are seeing this, or any other insect problems on your trees and shrubs, please call Virginia Green to get a free quote!
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