This plant pest attacks a broad variety of plants, including annual and perennial flowers, many deciduous shrubs and some trees such as maple redbud and tuliptree. The twospotted spider mite is not an insect, but rather a mite, which is similar to a spider. These mites are about the size of a period on a page. Their bodies are oval with eight legs. They are greenish yellow with a black spot on each side of the body in the growing season. Eggs are white to yellow. Adult females overwinter in bark cracks or mulch. There are several generations per year.
Spider mites suck leaf juices, causing white-to-yellow stopped to appear. Stipples are where the spider mites sucked the chlorophyll, which cause the green color from the leaves. When large spider mite populations feed, the stipples run together, which cause the leaves to turn white to yellow to grayish brown and die. Some plants are susceptible to toxins from the spider mites, and low populations may cause leaves to die.
How would you know if your plants have twospotted spider mites? Look for early signs of stippling with the beginning of hot humid summer weather. Examine the underside of damaged leaves or use the “beat” method to determine if you have mites. The “beat” method consists of taking a white piece if paper and placing it among the plants leaves and branches and beat on the plant. Remove the paper, shake or lightly blow off the debris, then smear your hand across the paper. If you see green to blackish streaks across the paper, it is likely you have mites. If you think you have spider mites on your plants, then it is time to call Virginia Green Lawn Care for a free premium tree & shrub analysis and estimate.
In dry, hot, sunny locations, the twospotted spider mite may produce one generation a week. The spider mites can cause a lot of plant damage in a very short time during the summer, so it is important call a professional for help. Since the spider mite is not an insect, it important to treat them with an miticide to control their numbers. Call Virginia Green Lawn Care today for a free estimate to help you control the spider mites and protect your plants.
Have you noticed your arborvitaes turning brown? Do you see pine cone like objects hanging on the branches and they appear to be moving? After closer observation, do you notice a dark brown to black caterpillar sticking its head out? What is this caterpillar?
This is no ordinary caterpillar. It is a native bagworm moth larvae. Adult male moths are about 3/4 inches long and black. They are made with females in their bags, which look like cones hanging from the host plants. The mature female larvae in their bags are one to two inches in length. The silken bags that the larvaes create are covered with plant parts from the host plant. They construct and add to them throughout their life. Silken bags of live larvae have green material on the outside of them. There is one generation per year.
The bagworm has been known to attack many types of plants when food sources are limited. Some of the more common plants damaged by bagworms are cedar, arborvitae, juniper, leyland cypress, white pine, sycamore, honeylocust, willow, oak, and maple. In high populations they have even been found on roses and perennial flowers. Only the growing larvae feed on host plants.
The damage is most serious and obvious on foundation conifers, such as arborvitae and juniper. The bagworms can completely defoliate branches of the host plant. On large trees and shrubs, exfoliation is less evident. Most people don’t notice the damage until a large branch area has browned out. By that time, it may not be too late to control the bagworms, but may be too late for the branch area to recover. How can you monitor for the bagworms?
In early June, begin looking for new bags on the host plants, especially where there is the presence of old large brown bags. First, look on the outer foliage in the full sun for bags. In the fall and winter, you can manually pull these old bags off and throw them away. Each old bag may contain up to 1,000 overwintering eggs. If there are too many bags or they are too high up in the plant to reach, call us at Virginia Green Lawn Care to put these plants on our Tree and Shrub Program. We can help you protect your valuable trees and shrubs from these devastating pest.
You are worried about your boxwoods, because there appears to be something mining the inside of the leaves. You could try calling the seven dwarfs to help you control them. They are most likely boxwood leafminers, which can be a major pest of the boxwoods. The leafminers don’t have picks and shovels to mine the leaves of boxwoods, but they do eat away the inside of the leaves.
This pest is a small fly that was imported into this country many years ago. The adult is a orange-yellow mosquito-like fly. They swarm about boxwoods in mid to late April for about two weeks. They mate and lay their eggs into leaves.
The yellow maggots or larvae hatch and feed inside the leaves. They cause blisterlike blotch mines that appear on the bottom side of infested leaves. Heavily mined leaves turn yellow and prematurely drop. During the spring and summer, look at the underside of the previous year’s leaves to easily to detect an infestation. Mines of the current season do not become obvious until fall. Most damage is done in the fall and late winter. That is what we are seeing now.
If you think that you might have adult flies hovering over your boxwoods, you could try a contact spray. This type of spray is a hit or miss application. We use a systemic injection to control the larvae from within the plant. If you would like a free estimate for protection of your trees and shrubs, call our office at 804-285-6200 in Richmond, 757-258-1788 in Williamsburg, 434-975-0100 in Charlottesville or 540-903-2593 in Fredericksburg.
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.
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