Early Flowers Also Means Early Pests

Dan Stever on Apr 5, 2016 3:51:00 PM

Landscaping in the Bluegrass is an adventure from year to year.  Sometimes we have snow in March, and other years we begin mowing lawns in March.  Even the bloom time of flowers can change yearly.  This year’s warm weather has not only the flowers ahead of schedule, but also the pests.  Many are in full swing and will require immediate action to prevent severe damage.  Here are a few observations from recent property inspections in the Lexington and Louisville areas:

  • Spider Mites:  very active right now, in fact I found a dwarf spruce turned almost brown already by the activity.  They have also been found on boxwoods and azaleas.
  • Boxwood psyllids and boxwood leafminers
  • Tent caterpillars – too late for injections to work, so manually remove the tents
  • Lacebugs on azaleas and service berries usually don’t start until later in the month, but frass has been found
  • Bagworms usually don’t start until May, but they might become active before the end of April this year

Here is an image of what spruce spider mite damage looks like on a dwarf spruce:


photo credit:  http://www2.ca.uky.edu/HLA/Dunwell/KHC/NurseryUpdate22_2004.html

Not all of these pests require harsh chemicals to control.  There are actually good spider mites that predate on the bad spider mites, this is called bio-control.  Bio-control in the landscape is a very effective means of preventing damage on plants if the pests are spotted early.  Both tent caterpillars and bagworms are easily removed by hand before they damage plants or make them unsightly.  When chemicals are used, preventative injections are encouraged because they target pests while avoiding harm to beneficial insects.  And as always, putting the right plant in the right place can prevent many problems, as can also proper sanitation and pruning techniques.

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