A website from UGA Cooperative Extension

Certain problems in the yard or garden are easy to determine.  Tomato hornworm or corn earworm are very easy to spot and so is the damage.  There are several types of insects out there that cause damage that seem to be almost “invisible” 

Looking the Hydrangeas by my back porch i noticed they looked fried from the lack of rain. However, after examining the leaves, I diuscovered saw spider mites where adding insult to injury. Lack of rainfall can speed the infestation of insects like spider mites.  Spider mites feed on the underside of the leaves, unless their populations get extremely large.  Initially they cause a stippled appearance to the upper leaf surface.  If they get bad enough the leaves can become necrotic and eventually die.

There are other insects that damage plants and are not overly obvious.  Thrips are about 1/16 of an inch and like to feed inside flowers.  If you are not looking for them you would never notice, but the feeding damages flower parts which leads to, misshapen or blemished fruits and vegetables.

Aphids are a bit larger and easier to see, but when infestations are beginning, they are hard to spot.  Often, they will feed on the underside of the leaf or stem, but on young or small plants they can cause damage to developing flower and leaf buds.

Scale insects are pretty serious pests of ornamentals and fruit trees.  If you have hollies, camellias, maples or peaches in your landscape then you probably have several types of scale insects causing damage.  Scale insects are only mobile for a short period of time.  once they settle on a spot the begin feeding and secreting a waxy coating that protects them as they develop.  The scale insects on camellias and hollies are easy to find on the underside of the leaf.  On peaches and maples the scale insects feed through the stem.  These scale blend well and are not as easily detected.

There are other insects like azalea lace bugs and whiteflies that are hard to detect until you have a real problem.  One thing is consistent.  The feeding damage from these insects usually occurs on the underside of the leaf or on stems and the damage is not noticeable until the populations get high. 

To stay ahead of these pests, it is a good practice to turn over leaves as you are scouting or just admiring your garden.  For most of these pests, the use of systemic insecticides is recommended because of where the insects feed.  Oils and soaps work as well and there are some synthetic insecticides that work, but getting thorough coverage is difficult.

Contact your County Agent to learn more about soil sampling and to get an explanation of your soil report.

Posted in: