Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > May 2017 > IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - IDENTIFYING INSECT DAMAGE


Now that we are in May and nearing summer, all of us have done a lot of new planting of shrubs, trees, annuals, vegetables, and perennials.  In doing all this planting, what we did was to lay out the best smorgasbord of food for various insects. 
                The BIG question is “how do we tell what’s eating our plants”?  Over the past couple of weeks, I have lost count of how many people have come into the garden center with samples of leaves that “aren’t natural” or “aren’t right”.  They come to us to get professional advice as to what is going on with the plant.  Or, they stop in our garden pharmacy and start reading labels on our selection of various pesticides in order to try to identify the insect. 
                Whether the customer is more comfortable with “self-service” or if they ask for some information, you need to understand the 3 main types of bad bugs --- CHEWING, RASPING, AND SUCKING INSECTS.  Without this understanding, a homeowner or gardener could buy the wrong product and not solve the problem and, at the same time, cause more damage to the plant.  The first instinct is likely to nuke everything with chemical pesticides.  However, there’s a better option for you, your plants and the soil in which they grow.  Invest a little time to find out what’s eating your plants and what – if anything – to do about it.
                CHEWING INSECTS -  This is what I am seeing the most with the samples that customers bring into the garden center  -  especially with chewed leaves on their rose plants.  A chewing insect is any insect that has teeth.  Most winged chewing insects (such as beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers) feed only on leaf tissue, working from the leaf edge towards the center and eventually to the leaf stem.
                RASPING INSECTS -  Rasping insects are mites, snails, slugs, and thrips.  They will scrape off the surface of the leaves.  They suck up the fluids from the top layer until all the green tissue has been consumed, leaving only the skeleton behind.
                SUCKING INSECTS  -  The most common sucking insects are the aphids and whiteflies.  Sucking insects have small mouth parts and they pierce the leaves and stems to suck out the plant fluids.  Large population of aphids or whiteflies can cause leaf curling, yellowing, or distorted leaves.  Most sucking insects also produce large quantities of a sticky substance known as honeydew, which often turns black with the growth of a sooty mold fungus.
                If you’re not sure what type of insect is attacking your plants, just bring us a sample and let one of our many experts recommend a remedy to help your plant.  I can’t stress enough the importance of proper insect identification and the proper suggested product for control.
                                                                                HAPPY GARDENING!!!
Posted: 5/23/2017 by Doug Hensel | with 0 comment(s)
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