I guess you heard or read in the paper that because of our mild winter weather, we can expect lots of pests this year. So far, I’ve observed grasshoppers, tent caterpillars, leaf miners, spider mites, slugs, white fly, scale insects, powdery mildew (particularly on older varieties of crape myrtles), and chinch bugs in our lawns.
This is but another reason why you should be checking your plants 2-3 times per week. Two spider mites, which are especially bad during hot, dry weather, can if left unchecked, produce a population of more than a million offspring within 2 weeks. And, as always, it’s important that you properly identify pests and consider all options for their control. In most cases, pesticides should only be used as a last resort, and if they must be used, remember to rotate pesticides to avoid creating pesticide resistance, which can occur if your use the same product over and over to control a pest.
Before closing, I want to make two additional remarks on pests:
Chinch Bugs –
They are earlier than usual this year, and for the past few years, we’ve averaged 2-3 infestations per year. To help you identify chinch bug or other soil insects, do the following: If you have brown-yellow patches that seem to be getting larger each passing day, make up a 1 gallon solution of water and 2 tablespoons of liquid soap; then apply this be pouring it around the other perimeter of the discolored patch. If you see insects coming to the soil’s surface within a minute, you know you have soil insects that require immediate attention. If found today and treatment is delayed 3 or 4 days or longer, you may have lost much of your lawn.
Scale Insects –
These seem to be a very serious problem this year. I’ve found them on orchids, camellias, various varieties of trees and shrubs, and even on palms and palmettos. Because they suck nutrients from plants, they can not only make plants look unsightly, but also kill them. The secret to their control is through coverage of the pesticide (typically a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap), especially the undersides of foliage. Repeat treatments 7 – 10 days apart may be needed.
Because pesticide recommendations are frequently changed, check with IFAS at solutionsforyourlife.com for the latest recommendations on what products to use for each of these pests.