Year of the Bug

Well, we made it through a wet spring without seeing an outbreak of leaf blights in our landscapes. These blights are caused by various fungal pathogens that thrive in the cool May weather. Now that Summer is here, temperatures will become consistently warmer, and these blights will no longer be able to attack your landscape plants.

However, the lack of hard frosts this spring which made for an amazing showing in our blooming plants has been the cause of an abnormally large insect population. Most of the leaf eating insects suffer population setbacks when we get late frosts. Their emerging eggs and immature young cannot tolerate harsh weather, so it takes much longer for their populations to build up after frosts decimate their colonies. With the absence of these natural controls, we will see an extended season for insects to build up large, destructive populations in our Casper landscapes.

I have already found many trees here in Casper that were completely covered by Aphids, Plant Bugs, or Spider Mites in high enough populations to cause serious damage. These insects rob enough nutrients from the tree that the leaves will begin to lose their ability to produce energy for the tree and fall off. This weakened state causes the tree to become stressed, and then it is highly susceptible to a host of other diseases.

The key to keeping your landscape thriving is to take some time every week to go into your landscape and make some observations. There are several other insects that I haven’t found in high populations yet but they will likely appear over the next couple weeks. You will need to help find them.

Look for:
1. Sticky substances on the patio furniture, vehicles, or on the leaves of plants below them. These secretions are being produced by the insects sucking on the leaves of your plants.

2. Leaves falling off. This is usually a sign of a severe infestation.

3. A subtle yellowing or mottling of the leaf surface. Finding this will require some studious observation. If you find some leaves that resemble this you should hold a white sheet of paper under the branch and shake it vigorously. Then examine the paper closely to find some mites the size of a speck of dust. You will see them when they start moving.

4. Holes in the leaves. There are numerous plant bugs that will eat some holes in the leaves which is not too alarming as long as the leaves don’t get so many holes that 1/3 of the leaf is consumed.

Most of these insects that cause these four symptoms are easy to control once they are found, but if they are left unnoticed the consequences can be devastating. Controlling these insects rarely requires spraying and most often can be done by injecting a medicine directly into the cambium tissue (bark) thereby killing only the insects that are damaging the trees. This type of application gives all of our beneficial insects the ability to continue do their good work in our landscape.

Call or email us once you find some destructive bugs and we will help you control them so that your landscape can continue taking advantage of this nice, long, growing season.

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