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Indoor plant pests and diseases can strike at any time, replacing the glory of new unfurling leaves with yellowing ones. While a plague of pests and fungus can make short work of your indoor plant collection, there's no need to panic. Not sure what you're looking for or what to do next? Read on for Craig's tips for treating common pests and fungus.
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Bedding plants and perennials provide beauty and tranquility to homeowners and landscapers. They also encourage biodiversity by attracting butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. Unfortunately, many other insects, mites and other invertebrates ie.
It is important to differentiate between the actual insect pest causing damage to your plants, and the pollinators, predators and parasites that are helping maintain a healthy, balanced landscape.
In order to manage the activity and damage caused by these pests, you must understand "pest management" and learn how to properly identify each insect. Each plant has a number of key pests that may attack the flowers, foliage, stems or roots. Some of these insects will only attack a certain kind of plant, while others are considered generalists and will feed on a variety of plants. This fact sheet will attempt to help you identify the common "generalists" and will suggest methods of keeping them under control.
We now use the term "integrated pest management" because we know from experience that there is no magic bullet to rid the garden of unwanted pests. We can merely attempt to keep pests at tolerable levels and minimize their damage—this is management.
When using integrated pest management, remember these four important principles:. Insects will always be present in a landscape; the key is to understand which insects are a threat, and which are merely pollinating or preying on other insects. Complete reliance on pesticides, whether organic or not, can be harmful to beneficial insects and can actually make a problem worse by killing off the natural enemies.
In order to manage pests and their damage, integrate your approach and use cultural and mechanical control i. It is imperative to properly identify the pest s in question before attempting control. Various insects feed on different parts of the plant; where and how they feed will affect which control measures you use. Generally, pests have either chewing or sucking mouthparts.
Pests with chewing mouthparts eat portions of the plant. Some insects may defoliate the plant by eating all the leaves, while others only eat portions of leaves, resulting in skeletonized foliage the leaf tissues between the veins are eaten , notched foliage only the edge of the leaf is eaten , shot-holed foliage tiny holes are nibbled into the leaves or shredded foliage most of the leaf is eaten except for the major veins.
Other chewing pests feed inside leaves leaf miners or bore into stems and roots borers. Pests with sucking mouthparts feed by sucking nutrients from the plant. This type of feeding usually causes the plant to discolor or twist and curl. The plant may discolor from tiny yellow speckles spider mites , larger darkened spots plant bugs or coatings of black sooty mold growing on honeydew deposits from aphids and whiteflies.
Curling of foliage or twisting of young stems is how many plants react to insect saliva introduced while feeding as well as to direct injury. Locating the actual insect pest makes diagnosis easier. Many pests remain on the plant at all times, and a close inspection is all that is necessary.
Others run or fly when disturbed, so cautious, slow inspection may be necessary. Approach the plant low to the ground and try to observe the plant's upper and lower leaf surfaces without casting a shadow. Many pests come out at night, so you will have to look for them with a flashlight. If you are unable to properly identify the insect, try taking a photo, capturing a specimen or collecting examples of the damage. Then, take the evidence to your county's Ohio State University Extension office.
Attempt to keep the insect intact by placing it in a small jar or zip-lock bag. A specimen may be kept in the freezer until you have it identified. Snails and their "shell-less" cousins, the slugs, are common residents in the garden. Most of these feed on decaying plant matter or fungi, but many can chew the foliage of living plants, leaving ragged holes in leaves. They may also feed on ripening fruit or succulent plant material close to the ground.
Snails and slugs are usually active at night or on foggy or cloudy days. Use a flashlight at night to detect these pests, or look for the slime trails on damaged plant foliage in the early morning. These pests require high humidity or moisture and usually reach pest status during wet years or during the rainy periods of spring and fall.
Control is best achieved by making the garden less suitable for snails and slugs. Eliminate debris, weeds, large stones or other places they can hide, and keep mulch levels below 3 inches in depth. If vigilant, hand removal can be effective. Copper barriers are also effective when buried around ornamental beds.
Be sure you are starting with a slug-free flower bed before placing the barrier. The larvae of fireflies, ground beetles and parasitic flies also feed on snails and slugs but are rarely in high enough numbers to be effective. Because slugs and snails are attracted to yeasty odors, beer traps can be placed at ground level, forcing the pests to fall in and drown.
These traps need to be replaced on a regular basis. Several baits are available, which can be quite effective when used in conjunction with other control methods. These baits often contain pesticides and can be toxic to dogs and cats, while others are toxic to earthworms. Always read and follow the pesticide label. Isopods commonly called pillbugs are not insects but are relatives of the crab and shrimp. They have a head with obvious antennae, and a trunk region with 11 pairs of legs.
They tend to hide during the day and emerge at night to eat irregular holes in leaves of young plants. These pests are easily detected at night with a flashlight or by pulling back mulch around the plants.
Under normal conditions, these general feeders rarely cause much damage to living plants since they prefer to feed on decaying plant matter. During rainy weather or where gardens are mulched too heavily and watered constantly, isopods can build up large populations and cause visible damage. The best control for isopods is to remove excess mulch, use irrigation sparingly and eliminate any stones, grass clippings, leaf piles or other hiding places.
This will reduce the habitat and the food necessary for large populations. Some of the general insecticides also have sowbugs or pillbugs on the labels; these can be used during wet seasons when cultural controls are not effective. Millipedes are often confused with their fast-running predatory cousins, centipedes. Millipedes have heads with antennae and elongate trunks with 20 or more segments, each having two pairs of legs per visible segment.
These slow-moving animals are usually scavengers but occasionally feed on living plants, causing damage similar to isopods.
These creatures are usually abundant in compost piles and heavily mulched ornamental plantings. Centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment, run rapidly and are beneficial predators. Control of millipedes can be accomplished using the same techniques discussed under isopods. The most common spider mite attacking bedding plants and perennials is the two-spotted spider mite. This is a common pest in greenhouses and is often transplanted into the garden with bedding plants.
This mite, however, can overwinter as an adult female hiding in protected areas. You will need a 10x hand lens to see these pests. They make tiny cuts into plant cells and suck out the contents. This results in tiny yellow or white speckles on the upper leaf surface. Spider mites also produce fine webbing, which may coat the plant when populations are extremely high.
This is often easy to observe in the morning dew. The two-spotted spider mite is a sun- and heat-loving pest that can complete a cycle from egg to adult in less than two weeks. Therefore, populations tend to be a real problem in the heat of the summer. Because spider mites are not insects, most insecticides are not effective for control.
Beware of standard insecticides that claim "mite suppression" on the label. Look for true miticides or pesticides that claim "mite control. Since the mites are very tiny and prefer dry, sunny weather, attempt to grow mite-susceptible plants in the shade. A regular washing with a firm jet of water syringing can help keep populations down. Several of the insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils are also registered for mite control and can be effective if thoroughly applied to the upper and lower leaf surfaces.
Use caution with soaps and oils on flowers, as the soft flower tissues can be damaged. Most soap and miticide applications will have to be repeated two to three times in order to kill resistant eggs and resting stages of this pest.
Two-spotted spider mites are notorious for developing resistance to miticides. Switch chemicals if the miticide doesn't work. The European earwig is a common inhabitant of home gardens. The adults and nymphs have elongate bodies ending in a pair of forceps like pinchers. Though these insects look dangerous, they are harmless and can be considered beneficial when they prey on other insects.
Some of the larger males may be able to pinch soft skin when picked up, but most protect themselves by releasing a foul odor. Unfortunately, European earwigs are omnivores that eat both plant and animal matter.
When populations are low, most would never notice the occasional notch or hole in plant foliage and flowers. When mild winters are combined with above-normal rainfall, earwig populations explode and the adults and nymphs can be packed by the hundreds in flowers and in every other crack and crevice of the garden.
In most years, earwigs should be ignored or appreciated for their predatory behavior. When earwigs reach intolerable populations, they can be fairly easily controlled with standard insecticides. Nonchemical control can also include the construction of trap boards.
Earwigs like to hide in these spaces, and the boards can be collected regularly and dunked in soapy water to kill the pests. Other cultural controls use the same types of habitat modifications i.
The tarnished plant bug and the four-lined plant bug are common sucking pests that attack a variety of bedding and perennial plants.
The daisy and mint families are especially susceptible to attack.
Become a better gardener! Discover our new Almanac Garden Planner features forWhat are those little green bugs on your plants? Here are our best tips on how to identify and control aphids in the garden. Aphids seem to find their way into every garden. They are small, soft-bodied insects that feed by sucking the nutrient-rich liquids out of plants.
Small populations of aphids are pretty harmless to the plants, but when their eggs on the aphids, then eating them from the inside out.
Track your order through my orders. Aphids might be small, but they can cause a lot of damage to plants and crops. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of flower buds, stems and leaves. There are over species of aphid in the UK. They come in a range of different colours - although the most common are green greenfly or brown-black blackfly. If you have an aphid infestation, you may also notice the following:. Some aphids feed on just one or two plant species. Others will eat several different types of plant. Most plants are susceptible to aphid damage - including fruit and vegetables, ornamentals, and houseplants. There are several ways to minimise or control aphid infestation.
Mummified aphid bodies indicate that they have been parasitized. The parasitic wasp center has emerged from the circular hole in the top left mummy. Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other tender plant parts and suck out fluids. Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it. Many aphid species are difficult to distinguish from one another; however, management of most aphid species is similar.
These tiny, soft-bodied insects will attack many plants, leaving them weakened and prone to disease. As a gardener you have the power to fight back, so read on or watch our video to discover five ways for controlling aphids without resorting to pesticides.
Many common garden and greenhouse pests are so small that they appear to be nothing more than tiny white dots. But these bugs can cause serious damage to your plants. If you have noticed white insects on any plants in your garden or home, it is vital that you work out what they are and how to get rid of them! Most likely, these tiny white bugs are one of three things: whiteflies, spider mites or mealybugs. Continue reading this article to find out more about three of the most common white bugs that are found on plants, how to tell them apart and what to do about each of them.
The dreaded oleander aphids have arrived here and are trying to wreak havoc in my gardens. Are there any new ideas on how to deal with them? Jan LeVesque is not alone in her exasperation at the hands—rather, mouth parts—of plant sucking aphids. Anyone who raises milkweed in an effort to attract Monarchs is familiar with the soft-bodied, squishy orange insects that seemingly take over anything in the Asclepias family. Jan, like many before and after her, posted the above query on the Monarch Watch DPLEX list , an old school listserv that goes to hundreds of citizen and professional scientists and butterfly fans who follow the Monarch migration. And as usual, the community had plenty of ideas.
Almost every plant has one or more aphid species that occasionally feed on it. are various species of parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside aphids.
Even our indoor plants are perking back up again, bolstered by the lengthened hours of sunshine. Weather and temperatures can be unpredictable. Diseases can creep into your garden. And of course, what would springtime be without the sudden appearance of tiny little holes in your plant leaves?RELATED VIDEO: Houseplant Pests: Get Rid of Them Organically!
Yes, this is a thing. While chatting with a houseplant hoarding collecting friend of mine, Johanna, about how people will do anything to get rid of houseplant pests, she mentioned she had ladybugs indoors for pest control and had just found a nymph, which showed they were breeding. Naturally, I was intrigued. At first, it was a bit disconcerting. But after a day or two, she reports they settled down and got to work.
Various stages of soft scales attended by ants. Scale insects are a large and diverse group about 8, described species in the superfamily Coccoidea of the order Hemiptera, closely related to aphids and whiteflies, but they look quite different from your typical insect the mealybugs are part of this superfamily, too, but are not included in this article.
Contact your local county Extension office through our County Office List. Print this fact sheet. Brown soft scale Coccus hesperidum is the most important scale insect that occurs on indoor grown plants in Colorado. When feeding it excretes a large amount of sticky honeydew that can cover leaves and create serious nuisance problems. Heavy infestations can cause leaves to prematurely shed, and branches to die back.
Make a donation. Most plants can be suffer from greenfly, blackfly or other aphids. These insects suck sap, can distort growth and spread plant viruses.