Plant Pests - Fernlea Flowers

Gardening Tips

Plant Pests

Good gardening practices Good gardening practices will deter pest problems before they begin. Insects are a natural visitor to any garden. But not all insects are bad for your plants and flower gardens. In fact, many bugs are beneficial to your garden because they eat other insects that can be a problem. However, some bugs […]

Man with mask and goggles spraying into garden bed with gloves on

Good gardening practices

Good gardening practices will deter pest problems before they begin.

Insects are a natural visitor to any garden. But not all insects are bad for your plants and flower gardens. In fact, many bugs are beneficial to your garden because they eat other insects that can be a problem.

However, some bugs are harmful and, if not detected and treated properly, can cause severe damage to your garden.

Ensure your soil is healthy by enriching it with homemade compost and other appropriate nutrients. This builds strong plants which are more resistant to most pests.

Avoid planting the same crops in the same location year after year. This is especially important in vegetable gardens.

Keep your garden clean and tidy. Insect infestations may start on nearby weeds or dead foliage and then migrate to your healthy plants.

Feed and water your plants regularly as directed (most annuals need weekly fertilizing). Properly nourished plants stay vigorous and are less susceptible to infestation and disease.

Although there are numerous insects that can attack your plants, home gardeners are likely to only experience a few of the more common ones. Click on any of the following to determine if this insect is your problem.

Aphids

  • Tiny yellow, green, or dark colored soft bodied insects cluster on the leaves, stems and flowers.
  • Leaves are curled, distorted and yellowing. Flowers are malformed.
  • A shiny, sticky substance may coat the leaves.
  • Ants feed on honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance excreted by aphids.
  • Aphids are extremely prolific and populations can rapidly build up to damaging numbers during the growing season.

Remedy

As soon as aphids appear, spray with an insecticide containing acephate, diazinon, or malathion. Clean up plant debris in the fall.

Mealy bugs

  • Oval, white insects up to 1/4 inch long.
  • Cluster in white cottony masses, on stems and leaves.
  • Eggs and some adults can survive through winter in warm climates.
  • Leaves may be deformed and withered.
  • Infested leaves are often shiny and sticky.
  • Begonias and coleus are susceptible to several mealy bug species.
  • Ants feed on honeydew, which is a sweet, sticky substance that is excreted by these mealy bugs.

Remedy

Spray infested plants with an insecticide containing acephate.

Respray at intervals of 7 to 10 days until the mealy bugs are gone.

Gently hose down plants to wash off honeydew. Remove and destroy severely infested leaves and plants.

Scale

  • Tiny sap sucking insects, looks like tiny bumps on leaves and stems.
  • They hide under a shell cover that acts as a shield.
  • They can kill plants if present in large numbers.
  • Ants feed on honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance excreted by scale.

Remedy

Remove and destroy any stems badly infested with scales.

Clean off light infestations with a cotton ball, which has been soaked in rubbing alcohol.

Spray with dormant oil in the early spring or light horticultural oil in the summer.

Thrips

  • Tiny insects resembling brown or straw colored wood slivers.
  • Found at the base of petals in a flower bud.
  • In cold climates thrips feed and reproduce from spring until fall.
  • They are especially troublesome during prolonged dry spells.
  • There are often silvery white streaks on the leaves.
  • Flowers that have opened are often streaked and distorted.
  • Flower buds turn brown and die before they open.

Remedy

Thrips cannot be eliminated completely, but they can be controlled. Spray infested plants with an insecticide containing acephate, carbaryl, malathion, or diazinon.

Spray 1 or 2 more times at intervals of 10 days. Make sure your plant is listed on the product label. Repeat the treatment if reinfestation occurs. Pick off and destroy old or infested flowers.

White flies

  • Nymphs are oval, flat insects with short, sucking beaks.
  • Nymphs are usually found on lower leaf surfaces.
  • White flies are common to greenhouse vegetables and flowers, but in warmer climates they attack citrus and many ornamentals as well.
  • Ants feed on honeydew, which is a sweet, sticky substance that is excreted by these white flies.

Remedy

Controlling white flies is difficult because they leave the plant as soon as you try to spray them.

The immature stage of white fly is scale-like and doesn’t move, this is when you must defeat them by weekly spraying or dipping with insecticidal soap. Malathion and diazinon sprays are effective.