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Spittlebug or Froghopper ~ Cercopidae species

Midwesterners may have noticed there has been a rise of folks spitting on plants… Nah, I’m just pulling your leg! Spittlebugs are on the rise this Spring, as I’m seeing them not only in my ornamental garden, but in the forest preserves and right of ways. These little Froghoppers are in the Cercopidae family, which contains 23,000 different family members.

For strawberry farmers (a fav of spittlebugs), the spittlebugs are mildly annoying at one spittle mass per square foot, also called “aesthetic threshold”. At five or more spittle masses per square foot, harvests can become affected. I think we’re there this year.

Spittle is produced by the nymph manipulating its body and using broken-down plant juices to blow the tiny bubbles. After there are enough bubbles to surround their bodies, they use their rear legs to cover themselves. Ironically, it’s not spit that makes the spittle… it comes out of the other end of the nymph (farttle?) ūüėČ The spittle protects them from predators, temperature changes and helps them from dehydrating.

Adult Froghopper

Although spittlebug nymphs and adults do feed on plant sap, the damage is minimal and populations are generally small and don’t warrant pesticide use.¬†In extreme cases, they can cause stunting and weaken plants or reduce yields. An easy way to rid yourself of them is to dislodge them with a blast from the hose. I have read about predatory wasps of the spittlebug, however not sure if they are here in the Midwest. Should you have a severe infestation, be sure to remove plant debris in Fall and lightly till the soil to reduce the amount of eggs for the next season.

After five instars, spittlebugs become froghopper adults, named as such because of their resemblance to frogs. They now have a hard exoskeleton, which keeps them from drying out and they are able to emerge from the spittle. Adult froghoppers travel by jumping, with some species jumping vertically as high as 28 inches/70 cm! This feat surpasses the ability of fleas!

One last little tid-bit:
There are two other insect families that are not related, however look just like the froghoppers; treehoppers (Membracidae), and leafhoppers (Cicadellidae). One of my favorite sites to research bugs is: BUGGUIDE.NET, Here’s how they tell the difference,
A leafhopper (Family Cicadellidae) has a row of prominent, regular spines on its rear tibiae (the second long leg segment). Spittlebugs/froghopper (Cercopidae) have no such regular spines, (but may have a few irregular ones). Treehoppers (Membracidae), usually have elaborated pronotums.

 

     

On Lychnis chalcedonica ~ Maltese cross  ||  On Weedy Grass

     

On Echinacea    ||    On Chaenomeles speciosa

They’re everywhere!!!!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Monday Memories 6-12-2017

Many of these pests / diseases are making their way around again. Be sure to monitor your plants, as many of these issues are easily dealt with in the early stages.

Ilex vs Rose Sawfly

imageLarvae can be effectively controlled with a neem oil product or an insecticidal soap. Spray only the leaves (both sides), in the morning as neem oil can possibility hurt pollinators (More research needs to go into that). The strategy is to find larvae while they are still small and before damage becomes severe, like our roses! There is no need for control after the larvae have finished eating and left the plants, give or take mid-July.

One last note, these are not caterpillars, they are actually primitive wasps, so Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis will not work.

Ilex VS Oak Wilt

Oak wilt is confused with other problems such as drought, construction stress, borers, and root problems.

These symptoms would include:Image

  • More noticeable during late summer
  • Regular size leaves, little wilting
  • Leaves browning evenly
  • Leaves remain on the tree after discoloring
  • Dying trees scattered throughout stand
  • More common on stressed sites
  • Signs of borers or root disease

Oak Wilt symptoms:

  • More noticeable during early summer
  • Small leaves, thin crown, wilting
  • Edges and tips of leaves bronzing first
  • Leaves drop soon after discoloring
  • Dying trees found in groups (root grafts)
  • Streaking and discoloration of vascular tissues

Ilex VS. Dutch Elm Disease

dutch elm diseaseThe DED fungus is spread by two insect vectors: the native elm bark beetle (Hylurgopinus rufipes) and the European elm bark beetle (Scolytus multistriatus). The fungus is transported on the beetles from infected trees to healthy trees as they feed on twigs and upper branches. The beetles lay their eggs in the bark and wood of stressed trees along with elm firewood with the bark left on. Developing larvae form channels just under the bark and the fungus grows through the galleries until it reaches the tree’s water conducting cells, or xylem. Chemicals manufactured by the tree during its effort to fight the disease plug up the xylem, causing the tree to wilt.  In the Midwest, beetles typically have two generations per year.

Ilex VS Four-Lined Plant Bug (Poecilocapus lineatus)

The four-lined plant bug (Poecilocapus lineatus) removes plant’s chlorophyll¬† via their piercing-sucking mouthparts. They also secrete a toxin in their saliva that digests the components responsible for holding the plant cells together that leaves a hole in the plant‚Äôs epidermis. This feeding produces white, dark, or translucent spots the plant’s leaves, which can run together forming large blotches. Leaves can turn brown, curl-up and ultimately fall off. If feeding occurs on new growth, wilting may result. This is a photo of a nymph. He was doing just fine in the damage department.

Ilex VS Eastern tent caterpillars ~ Malacosoma americanum

imageThese guys are often confused with fall webworms, and bag worms, although all three are quite different. Tent worm nests are active early in the season while webworms are active late season. Tent worms like to make their tent nests in the forks of branches, while webworm nests are located at the tips of branches. Fall webworms also enclose foliage or leaves within these nests. Tent caterpillars do not. Bag worms are single worm homes made of the foliage from the tree it has decided to call home. They mostly evergreens like junipers or arborvitae. I like to remember the difference like this… A bag can hold one, but a tent can hold many.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern plant Girl

Ilex vs Boxwood Blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata)

Boxwood Blight, also called Box Blight and Boxwood Leaf Drop (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) is a serious and deadly, fungal disease that mainly affects boxwood (Buxus), but can also hit Japanese Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis).

Boxwood Blight was first discovered in the Eastern United States in 2011. Presently, it has been identified in 18 states. It is being managed at a state level, which means states have different regulations on how they are dealing with it. Illinois and other states require nurseries to practice boxwood blight cleanliness programs to ensure the plants they sell are disease free.

This statement from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and where they stand on the issue.

It is generally agreed upon that the pathogen is not demonstrating the ability to move quickly or long-distance via air travel, or otherwise natural means. However, the overwhelming means of rapid and long-distance conveyance (interstate) is movement of infected plant material. The potential for more localized movement (i.e. within a production setting, from property to property, etc.) exists via plant to plant contact, contaminated tools, clothing, or other associated equipment that may have made contact with infected plants, in addition to local movement of infected plants or plant materials. This seems to be a ‚Äúcultural practices‚ÄĚ issue versus natural spread like EAB which we are all too familiar with.

In my opinion, us pink apes don’t understand nature enough. I think they are treating this a bit passively. I completely agree that there are many landscapers and gardeners that are not using good cultural practices. However, there are also forces of nature we don’t understand yet.

When I saw these blight alerts popping up in every blog, newsreel, etc that I follow, I became a bit distraught! On average, I plant about 1,000 boxwood a season on my clients’ properties ūüėĮ I trained my crews to be on the lookout for this menace and to bring in any samples they suspected of having the fungus. It didn’t take long before one came in. My clients boxwood were installed by us 10 years ago, using a ‘clean nursery’. She has had no other landscapers but us. The fungus had to have arrived in a natural way, not by bad practices. I had to tell my client the bad news. Not only is this a death sentence, this fungus habitats the soil, making it inhabitable forever to boxwoods. We are now going to use a small arborvitae for her hedge.

I was also talking to the salesman where I purchase my clean boxwood from. He was telling me he was golfing at the prestigious Medinah Country Club where he noticed a groundskeeper whacking away at a hedge of brown boxwood. He walked over to the guy and told him that these boxwood had blight, and he may not want to continue pruning diseased boxwood and then moving on to healthy ones. The groundskeeper paid no never-mind to him and continued to spread the disease.

So whether you’re going to contract Boxwood Blight on your boxwoods is a gamble. You can favor the house by buying clean stock and being sure your tools or your landscapers tools are clean. However, Mother Nature knows how to draw off the bottom of the deck sometimes…

     

Best management practices:

  • Monitor your existing boxwood – Look for the following:
    • Leaf spots – Light to dark brown circular lesions, often surrounded by a yellow halo.
    • Stem cankers – Dark brown or black cankers on the stem, diamond shaped or vertical streaks.
    • Defoliation – Sections of the plant dropping leaves.
    • If you feel your boxwoods have blight, you should contact your local Extension or send samples to your respective states plant clinic.
    • Do not prune suspect plants.
  • Planting suggestions:
    • Avoid planting a boxwood all together! There are many alternatives.
    • Ask the nursery or your landscaper to see the boxwoods’ certificate of Cleanliness.
    • Plant where there is good air circulation.
    • Prune regularly to keep good air circulation.
    • Sanitize pruning equipment before going from one plant to another. Dip tools in a 10% bleach solution between plants.
    • Water plants in the morning, so the sun will dry them off.
    • Avoid overhead watering if possible, use drip-lines or watering bags.

Here are some wonderful references to continue your education on the deadly Boxwood Blight!

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Center

Virginia Cooperative Extension

American Nurseryman

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

 

Two-Spotted Stink Bug ~ Perillus bioculatus

imageI saw this little guy climbing around¬†my Veronica ‘Purplicious’ and of course he’d be turned into a post!

Folks, I’d like to introduce Mr. Red and Black Two-Spotted Stink Bug or Perillus bioculatus for short.¬†Peri here is a native North America soldier bug, and¬†is a part of the Pentatomidae family with all the other stink bugs.

There are generally 2-3 generations of these guys a season, with the last generation hibernating over winter. Females can lay up to 100 eggs usually grouped in 10-15 on branches.

I won’t make you wait any longer for the obvious answer to the question floating in your head. YES! They do smell if you step on them or threaten them. So, basically, when he gets scared, he farts. I feel his¬†pain….

Peri’s favorite food is the Colorado potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata).¬†He doesn’t care how this beetle is being served up, sweet young larvae or adult.. . He eats them all. Don’t get me wrong. Peri won’t let a meal pass him by. No. He’s not a fussy eater and will plunge his sharp beak into any nearby meal, excrete some digestive fluid, and enjoy a bug juice cocktail.

The shape of the shield makes me think of cops out walking their beats. And these guys do serve and protect… POTATOES! These guys have been mass released near potato crops to help eradicate the potato bugs.

So, if you’re a fan of the spud, don’t give this guy too much flack about dropping SBD’s. He’s your ‘potato savior’!


© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Mossy Rose Galls ~ Diplolepsis rosae

Plant galls occur in an intriguing variety of strange shapes, textures and colors. Some are asymmetrical, bumpy, or warty, where others are smooth and round. Some galls have thick growths of fuzz, hair or spines. Moss galls (or galls in general) do not harm the plant, unless there are quite a few of them. They need the plant to live to also be able to live.

image     image

Galls result from a complicated interaction between two living organisms. The gall-maker (insect, disease or mite) causes the plant to modify its growth into a special dwelling that surrounds the gall-maker. In the case of mossy rose galls, it is a small cynipid wasp called, Diplolepsis rosae.

The Mossy Rose Gall Wasp emerge from the old galls in early spring (April to May) as the weather turns warmer. Females lay eggs for about 3 weeks in the dormant buds of roses, preferring the rugosa line. Larvae hatch and as they feed on the buds, chemicals in their saliva causes the leaves to distort and grow large galls. The larvae live within the gall, all the while feeding and growing to finally emerge the next spring. There is one generation per year.

image     image

There’s really no pesticide that can cure this. If you can’t handle seeing them on your rose, prune them out.


© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Woolly Aphids

Woolly aphids sure sound cute… Until you notice a flock of them has landed on your favorite plant, like this echinacea.

These guys are the size of a pencil lead, fluffy white and travel in large groups. You don’t usually see just one of these guys. The white fluff is actually a wax that protects the insect. They aren’t specific in their meals and can be seen feeding on foliage, buds, twigs and branches, bark, and even the roots.
If no action is taken damage materializes as twisted and curled leaves, yellowing foliage, generally poor plant growth, branch dieback, or even the development of cankers and galls.
Parasites, predators and even heavy rainfall will help reduce the populations naturally.  If you believe the natural population controls need your help you can use a forceful stream of water from the garden hose to dislodge the aphids or prune and remove selected, heavily infested stems and water sprouts.  I like squishing them. Spraying with insecticide is rarely justified.

image

These were lined up on my echinacea stem. When I moved in with my gloved hand, they jumped quite powerfully, out of the way of my squishing fingers. Ah, looks like I was going to have to be faster. Boom. I move in and wiped the stem in a swift motion. 6 down, with only two jumpers. Next stem fairs better with 4 casualties and no jumpers. I got this.

image     image

There are numerous species of woolly aphids, and they feed on many types of plants. They usually require two separate food plants called the primary host and the secondary host. They live on the primary host plant during winter and spring, on the secondary host plant in summer, and then return to the primary host. However, there are several cycles between the start and end of the season. Their seasonal, breeding cycle is very strange. Let’s see if you can wrap your mind around these funny gals:

image

  • In fall, the eggs are laid on the primary host.
  • In spring, they hatch into wingless females.
  • These females give birth to live young without mating (parthenogenesis). Each female can give birth to hundreds more wingless females.
  • In late spring to early summer, the wingless females give birth to winged females that fly to the secondary host plant, where they give birth to wingless females again.
  • In late summer and early fall, winged females will again be born.
  • They fly back to the primary host plants and change things up a bit by cloning themselves as both female and males!
  • The males and females mate and the mated females lay eggs. Low temperatures kill the adult aphids while the eggs wait patiently under the mulch for the warmth to start the cycle again!

That’s some crazy Shyt!!

 

 

© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Leaf Miners

Leaf miners can cause a fair amount of damage to a plant, if the gardener isn’t paying attention. A leaf miner is the larva of an insect that lives in and eats the leaf tissue of plants. Most of leaf-mining insects are moths (Lepidoptera), sawflies (Symphyta) and flies (Diptera), though some beetles also begin this way. This feeding action causes strange scribbles to appear on the leafs of some unfortunate plants.¬† I’ve always thought of the book ‘Charlotte’s Web’ when I observe these… Always wondering if I’m going to read,”Some Pig!” one of these days.

image     image

It looks like a prescription from my doctor…

I spotted them in my Vervain Mallow (Malva alcea) this summer. This plant is considered a weed here, although I think its pretty and allow it to grow in my garden. With the weed title in mind, I can’t find much information on what fly causes these tunnels. Either way, it doesn’t matter. The way to get rid of them is the same for all miners. Squish or remove leaf. It is that easy. I try to find the newest feeding area and squish the leaf between my fingers, thus squishing the insect. If there are too many on a leaf, remove it and throw it away.

image     image

Someone got confused and laid an egg on an annual   ||   Leaf miners on columbine

Miners overwinter as pupa in the soil, then morph into flies that lay eggs on the underside of leaves. The eggs then hatch into maggots and burrow inside the leaf tissue to mature. Three species of miners in the genus Phytomyza are associated with columbines.

 


© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Sycamore Anthracnose (Apiognomonia veneta)

image

Anthracnose is a fungus that has many forms and affects manyimage different species of trees. Some are fatal, some will just make the tree look unpleasant.

The most common signs of Sycamore Anthracnose are:

  • *Heavy leaf and twig drop in late spring
  • *A thinning crown
  • *Random, dead leaves in canopy
  • *Distorted limb growth
  • *“Witches’ broom” growth (dense clusters of twigs)
  • *Cool, wet, spring weather will aggravate the spread of this disease.

If the average daily temperature at¬†the time of leaf budding¬†is below 55 ¬įF, anthracnose infections will be severe. If the average daily temperature is 60F or above during this time, disease incidence will be greatly reduced.

Sycamore anthracnose is caused by the fungus Apiognomonia veneta and is more serious than anthracnose on other shade trees. Sycamore anthracnose is common when cool, wet weather occurs during leaf development. Considerable defoliation may occur in late spring, however trees normally bounce back and produce a second set of leaves in early July that are disease-free. Leaves that are infected in early spring often turn brown and shrivel while still small, which can be mistaken for frost damage. Leaves that are infected may have brown foliar lesions that follow along the veins in V-shaped patterns. Leaves turn brown and may drop prematurely or continue to hang in the tree.

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There are two other stages of this anthracnose: shoot and leaf blight and canker formation. Shoot and leaf blight results when the pathogen enters young, succulent shoots. It causes the rapid death of growing shoots and leaves. The pathogen overwinters in twigs and is active whenever temperatures are high enough in the fall, winter and spring. During winter, cankers form on infected shoots and kill the buds. Repeated infection results in deformed shoots and witches brooms. Although this disease can weaken the trees and increase their susceptibility to attack by other pathogens and pests, it is not lethal.

imageManagement: Dead twigs should be pruned as they develop throughout the growing season. Rake and discard fallen leaves to reduce the source of the fungus. It is impractical to spray fungicides on large trees, however for smaller, specimen trees, the disease can be controlled with fungicides applied at three intervals; just before bud break, during bud break, 10 to 20 days later. Systemic fungicide injections can also be used.

If you really want to plant a Platanus species and don’t want to worry about sycamore anthracnose, plant a hybrid planetree, which are resistant to the disease. These trees are mixed with a maple.

EXCLAMATION LONDON PLANETREE Platanus x acerifolia¬† ‘Morton Circle’ Zones 4-8

OVATION LONDON PLANETREE Platanus x acerifolia¬† ‘Morton Euclid’ Zones 5-7

 

 

© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Ilex VS Eastern tent caterpillars ~ Malacosoma americanum

imageThese guys are often confused with fall webworms, and bag worms, although all three are quite different. Tent worm nests are active early in the season while webworms are active late season. Tent worms like to make their tent nests in the forks of branches, while webworm nests are located at the tips of branches. Fall webworms also enclose foliage or leaves within these nests. Tent caterpillars do not. Bag worms are single worm homes made of the foliage from the tree it has decided to call home. They mostly evergreens like junipers or arborvitae. I like to remember the difference like this… A bag can hold one, but a tent can hold many.

imageEastern Tent worms like wild cherry, other ornamental fruit trees, ash, willow and maple trees. They tend to make their tents on the eastern side of the canopy to take advantage of the early sunlight to warm them and start their digestive systems. After a about five instar, they fall from the tent, make a cocoon and after two weeks, the moth emerges. Mating occurs and the female deposits her eggs on the tree bark. Soon the eggs change into larvae, without leaving the egg and overwinter this way. In the spring, they emerge from the egg.image

Other than their webs making trees appear unsightly, tent caterpillars rarely cause major problems unless their numbers become high. They are easy to control by waiting until nightfall, when they tend to go back to the tent and pruning the branch off. It can be disposed of via the garbage or campfire. If pruning is not an option, maybe these are:

  • Scrape off, discard overwintering egg masses.
  • Tear the protective tents out by hand before the larvae start to feed.
  • Control caterpillar movement and restrict access to feeding areas with Sticky Tree Bands or Tanglefoot Pest Barrier.
  • Apply¬†Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt-k) or Monterey Garden Insect Spray (Spinosad)¬†to the leaves to kill feeding caterpillars.
  • If necessary, spot treat with plant-derived insecticides as a last resort. Spray must penetrate silken tents for effective control.

 

© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl

Four-Spotted Sap Beetle ~ Glischrochilus quadrisignatus

Four-Spotted Sap Beetle (or ‘picnic beetles’, ‘picnic bugs’, or ‘beer bugs’) feed on sap from injured trees, decaying vegetables or fungal matter. They love ripened fruit, as well as beer, wine, fruit juice and fermented beverages. The beetles like to party in large numbers when these beverages are present, often drowning while enjoying their libation. Then I get to enjoy protein¬†in my wine =-P

They can be a nuisance to farmers, however they don’t generally bother crops until something else causes the crop to be damaged in some way. Once damage is done, like Japanese beetles nibbling on tomatoes do they come from miles around. They aren’t strong fliers, however scientists have tested marked beetles by placing a basket of rotten tomatoes 200 yards away, and the beetles found the prize in less than two hours.

Researchers have also¬†found that their favorite food is beer mixed with bananas. Hmmm, I do peanut butter and bananas..¬†However, I wouldn’t think to down¬†my meal with beer, yuk.

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© Ilex РMidwestern Plant Girl