What is eating my plants and what do I do about it? Read on to learn more about a few common garden insects that if left alone could cause serious damage to your landscape.
Bugs around the house are a problem that everyone who lives in the Kansas City area has dealt with. Many of these garden insects are harmless to people, pets and plants, but some can create huge problems. Here’s a look at a few of the harmful bugs that could be living in your lawn and landscape.
1: Japanese Beetles
One garden insect that could be doing some hefty damage this time of year is the Japanese Beetle. These little guys make a meal out of almost any plant that is common to beautiful home landscapes. They prefer to snack on roses and linden trees but they will eat any plant with a leaf. They resemble the common beetle to our area, the Masked Chaffer. The do a lot more damage to ornamental plants than any other type of beetle. Japanese Beetles tend to feed in groups. If you see one, look a little closer and you will likely see a swarm of them.
If you see them in your landscape plants, start a treatment plan immediately. Most of the widely available insecticides approved for home usage will do a decent job of control. Many of those options will require a few re-treatments to fully take care of the problem, costing you additional time and money. Do you suspect that you may have Japanese Beetles in your landscape? Take a picture and text it to 913-227-4340 and we can identify it and recommend the appropriate course of action.
Tip: Do not use traps designed for Japanese Beetles. The good part about these traps is that they are good at attracting Japanese Beetles. They let you know that there could be a problem coming. The bad part about these traps is that they are also good at attracting Japanese Beetles to your landscape plants for a meal!
In our Kansas City landscapes, we love evergreen plants. Unfortunately, so do bagworms. Bagworms are the little pine-cone-shaped-cocoon-forming garden insect that can defoliate an entire evergreen tree or shrub in one season. In extreme infestations, they will actually feed on anything that is alive. We have seen them on Crab-Apple trees, Weigela, stucco siding, you name it, they will eat it, or try to! These guys eat all summer long, building a beautiful bag behind them all the way. When it’s time to go to bed for the winter, they attach their bag to the tree, climb inside, lay some eggs and go to sleep for the winter. Wouldn’t that be nice?
When the little eggs hatch in early May, the larvae come out and begin the process all over again. This time of year, you can actually hear and see them moving on your trees. Now is the time to treat for them. As is the case with most control methods, the key is getting them early. It does no good to spray the bags after the worms are done feeding.
Tip: Removing the bags and crushing them, then disposing of them is a good way to handle bagworms if you feel up to it and feel like you can find all of them.
3. Spider Mites
While not truly a garden insect, spider mites will do quite a bit of damage if left unchecked. Spider mites are small, almost microscopic mites that live on the undersides of shrubs. They are usually fairly harmless on otherwise healthy plants. When we see prolonged periods of hot, dry weather these mites reproduce at excessive rates. Populations can get out of control and the shrubs they choose to infest can show some pretty significant signs of problems.
Our technicians typically see damage from spider mites on Dwarf Alberta Spruce shrubs. These mites will feed on any available plant material. The damage may appear to be a general localized decline in the health of the plant. It could also manifest as leaves or needles simply falling off of the plant. As with all pests in evergreen trees and shrubs, quick complete control will help to make sure your plants are not damaged for the long term by this seasonal pest.
The best control for spider mites is to keep your plants healthy all season long. Water well, avoid over-fertilizing with nitrogen and make sure the soil type is correct for the type of plant you have. One particular key is to know the right place for the right plant. That alone will help avoid unnecessary stress to your landscape plants. Change plants that are not suited to the conditions to one that loves those conditions. If you have a shady side of the house, avoid planting sun loving plants there.
The same holds true for well drained soil vs. a very wet area. A well drained soil loving plant will never thrive in an area that keeps its feet wet all the time. There is no cure for planting the wrong plant in the wrong place. Whether it’s spider mites or some other bug, something will eventually kill a plant that isn’t where it wants to be because of the added stress put on the plant.
Tip: If you know you have a spider mite infestation, a hard steady stream of water, two times per week will do a great job of keeping spider mite populations at bay. Direct the stream at the under side of the leaves, of the affected area of your plant. Continue doing so until the hot dry conditions that spider mites love, subside.
Let us help!
What ever may be causing your trees and shrubs to lose their vigor this time of year, Custom Lawn has a solution for you. We can treat the treatable plants or replace the ones that have gone too far to save. Custom Lawn can adjust your sprinklers to make sure the plants are getting watered correctly. Our pros can even re-design your flower bed to make sure you have the right plants in the right place. Let your home town experts make your life easier by providing exceptional service to you and your lawn and landscape. Even if you just want a consultation, our experts are ready and waiting to hear from you.