Bugs of summer
By: Garden Gate staff
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Four-lined plant bug Poecilocapsus lineatus
FAVORITE PLANTS Four-lined plant bugs feed on more than 250 species of plants. Some of their favorites, besides herbs and vegetables, include Shasta daisy, spike blazing star, dogwood, forsythia and viburnum.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE? Both adults and nymphs have piercing-sucking mouthparts they use to remove chlorophyll from leaves. Look for the tiny white, dark or translucent depressed areas on foliage in early to midsummer. Large numbers of four-lined plant bugs don’t usually kill plants but they can cause a lot of foliage damage.
WHAT’S THE PLAN? Four-lined plant bugs move too quickly to hand pick, so use insecticidal soap for edibles because it’s organic. For ornamental plants, the pesticides Sevin® (carbaryl) or Orthene® (acephate) can take care of large infestations. Apply it as soon as you see any damage.
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Black vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus (Fabricius)
FAVORITE PLANTS Adults and larvae feed on more than 100 different types of plants. Astilbe, coral bells and yew are just a few of their favorites.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE? Notches along leaf edges means an adult weevil has been by in late spring and summer, but the damage tends to be cosmetic. Larvae nibbling on roots, stems and crowns cause the most trouble — entire root systems can be severely “pruned” and stems girdled just below the soil’s surface, causing plants to die.
WHAT’S THE PLAN? Lay down a 3-by-4-ft. piece of burlap at the plant’s base for adults to hide in. Shake it out over a bucket of soapy water in the morning. Look for the beneficial nematode Heterorhabditis spp., sold under the brand name NemaSeek™, to get rid of larvae. Apply it about a month after you notice notched edges on leaves so grubs will have time to hatch and enter the soil.
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Apple flea beetle Altica foliaceae (LeConte)
FAVORITE PLANTS Roses, sedum and gaura are some of this flea beetle’s favorite snacks. And not only do they eat evening primrose, but these insects lay their eggs on the foliage, as well.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE? Adults create 1/8-in. diameter holes all over the foliage in spring and summer. Heavy infestations can cause serious defoliation, weakening plants. The larvae chew smaller holes on the leaves and buds of the plants where they hatch.
WHAT’S THE PLAN? Adults overwinter in leaf litter, so clean up fall debris. Spray the pesticide Sevin® if you find damage. For an organic spray get spinosad, a soil-dwelling bacteria that kills insects after it’s eaten.
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Oriental beetle Exomala orientalis (Waterhouse)
FAVORITE PLANTS “C”-shaped grubs feed mainly on the roots of turfgrass, berries and ornamental plants from spring to summer. Adults show up in early summer and are fond of roses, garden phlox, petunias and many other plants.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE? Dead spots in the lawn or dead plants mean grubs have eaten the roots. Ragged foliage and petals indicate adult activity, but they won’t do much damage during their short 2-week life span. There’s just one generation a year.
WHAT’S THE PLAN? Restrict watering during summer if you can. That’s when the eggs are laid and they need moisture to develop. A systemic pesticide, such as Bayer Advanced™ Complete Insect Killer for Soil and Turf (imidacloprid), applied from late spring to summer, works for both lawns and flower or shrub borders.