29August 19, 2015

A summer of hot and dry weather brings a few pests to our yards and our gardens. Let me tell you about two of the worst ones to be looking for in your yard.

If you have any Dwarf Alberta Spruce or any of the other evergreens that have needles, you may notice that the needles are turning brown and falling off the plant. The culprit is usually spider mites. Spider mites get their name from the tiny strands of webbing that they produce on severely infested plants. Spider mites love the hot, sunny and dry weather of late summer. Their population can start off as just a few on a plant and within a week or so the population soars to the thousands if not tens of thousands. Each mite sucks juices out of a spot on a needle until the feeding of the mites kills the needle. The mites then move on to the next needle. Soon major damage occurs to needles, twigs and eventually the entire plant. If the spider mite damage occurs on any of your evergreens, you can treat the plant with a systemic insecticide. Unfortunately, spider mites can also attack your vegetable plants. In this case, you cannot use a systemic insecticide to treat for mites on your vegetables. Depending on the type of vegetable, there are many different things that you can use to control spider mites. If you think you may have spider mites on your vegetable plants, take a few of the leaves off the plant, put the leaves in a clear plastic bag and bring the samples into our store. We can tell you if it is spider mite damage and if so, the proper thing to use on your plants.

Your tomato plants can get another hot weather visitor that you really don’t want in your yard. If you touch your tomato plants and a white insect flies off of the leaves and then shortly settles back onto the tomato plant, you have discovered an insect called, aptly enough, white fly. This insect is a major pest in greenhouse grown plants, but outside, tomato plants are the favorite food of this insect. The white fly is, of course, white in color and sort of wedge shaped. They usually cluster on the underside of leaves and feed until the leaves die. Just like the spider mite, the white fly population can skyrocket in a short period of time. I will be the fist to admit that they are difficult to control because you have to get an insecticide on them to control them. Since they spend most of their time feeding on the underside of the leaf, you have to get the spray onto the underside of the leaf. This isn’t easy to do with your standard trigger spray bottle of insecticide. The most effective way to apply an insecticide is to use a compression sprayer or one of the sprayers that attaches to the hose. This allows you to create enough volume of spray to get the spray under the leaves. At this time of the year, with tomatoes ripening on your plants, you need to use an insecticide that can be used up to the day of harvest. The downside to this type of insecticide is that they don’t last very long on the plant. You may need to re-apply the insecticide every few days to effectively control the white fly population.

With the arrival of the hot days of summer, insect pests and fungus diseases really arrive in our gardens. Take some time every few days to check the plants in your yard for signs of insect damage or for signs of fungus diseases. It is far easier to control a problem if you catch the problem early on.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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