Insect Pests

1. Q: How do you control webworms?

A: Prune out and destroy the web is possible. Puncture the bag with a stick and insert Orthene, Dipel, or Thuricide using a spreader-sticker. Do this after eggs have hatched but before the larvae create dense webs.

2. Q: What do you do about scale on Christmas cactus?

A: Swab with a diluted soap solution (mild dish detergent), rubbing alcohol or diazinon. Aerosol using pyrethrin, resmethrin or dichloroos can be used repeating at 1 to 3 day intervals. Is the plant is outdoors, Oxymal, a systemic insecticide can be mixed into the soil; however it is quite toxic and must be used exactly in accordance with label directions.

3. Q: How do you determine if there are chinch bugs in lawn and how do you treat for them?

A: There will be spots of dead grass. It will turn yellow, then brown then die. Press a gallon can with ends removed into lawn two to three inches. Fill with water; chinch bugs will rise to surface. Treat entire lawn. Water the lawn first then apply Dursban, diazinon, Trithion. If granular form is used, water for one hour after application. The lawn should dry thoroughly before pets or children are allowed on the lawn.

4. Q: How do you get rid of ants in container grown houseplants before bringing them in for the winter?

A: Use a 1% Malathion drench or a diazinon drench.

5. Q: How do you control scale on ornamentals?

A: Insecticide sprays must be used while scales are tiny and crawling. Spray 2 to 4 times at 7 to 10 intervals mainly during May and June. Look for crawlers during the growing season. During the winter use a dormant oil when temperature is above 45 degrees. In the summer use a summer weight oil or summer spray.

6. Q: What do you use to control slugs and snails?

A: Use slug bait containing mesurol or methaldehyde. Apply after a rain or watering. Can also set out a pie plate with beer to trap them.

7. Q: What is treatment for shade tree borers?

A: Dursban or product containing Lindane applied April 1, late May, mid-July and late August. Difficult to control in old well- established trees. Best to maintain good cultural practices such as watering, fertilizing, pruning and removal of other stress factors.

8. Q: When do fire ants hybernate?

A: They don't but are less active in cold weather because they move deeper into the ground.

9. Q: How and with what do you treat fire ant infestations? Can you treat in January? Can you treat in a vegetable garden?

A: Logic can be used at the rate of one pound per acre. Ortho Fire Ant Killer can also be used following label instructions. Mounds can be treated any time the mound is active. Afterwards follow up with diazinon, Dursban or Amdro.

10. Q: Could leaves on the ground be harboring fleas? Dog has fleas.

A: Yes. Leaves need to be picked up anyway.

11. Q: What to do about infestation of crickets?

A: Clean up leaves and other debris from around the house. Spread Dursban or Diazinon granules over affected areas. Check for entrance areas into house; caulk and use weather stripping. Spray Dursban around baseboards, in closets and behind furniture.

12. Q: Will ants eat garden seeds?

A: Some ant eat seeds. Can be useful by eating weed seeds.

13. Q: How do you control gnats in houseplants?

A: Reduce watering letting the soil dry out between watering. Use a soil drench of Benomyl to rid soil of fungus which gnats are feeding on. It is necessary to get rid of conditions that promote gnat development. It is possible to use a soil drench of diazinon, Malathion, pyrethrin or DDVP but the label should be checked carefully to be certain these products are label cleared for use on each houseplant variety.

14. Q: How do you control American cockroaches?

A: Clean debris around the exterior of house and seal any possible entry points into the house. Then spread Dursban granules around exterior of house. Entry points include sewer pipes and uncaulked gaps around any opening into the ground or exterior. Traps such as Combat are good.

15. Q: I have some white, fluffy looking stuff growing on my oleander plant. It is located on the plant where a branch comes out from another branch. One of my friends think it is mold, but I am not sure. Do you have any idea what it may be and how I can get ride of it?

A. What you are describing sounds like a scale insect. If it looks like cotton and when you press it hard with your finger-nail, you get a brown or reddish liquid, it is scale. If white it is the white peach scale; if brown, it is brown scale. If you don't have too many affected plants you can just rub the scale off as it appears. Don't let the insect numbers build or they can literally suck the plant to death (these are aphid-like insects with a fuzzy protective coat). If you have large numbers of plants, apply a dormant oil spray. You may want to refer to Question 5 above for more information on how and when to use dormant oil. It is sold in garden centers as dormant oil or Volick oil. I trust this has been helpful information.

16. Q: I'm not sure of the name. When I was a kid we called them doodle bugs. They are grey, armor plated insects with at least six legs. When threatened, they roll into a tight ball. They have been a real nuisance with the drought this year. They hid under my mulch and ate my young okra plants, bush beans and even my periwinkles. Do you have any non-chemical suggestions?

A: You are describing what are called pillbugs, rollie-pollies, sow bugs and, yes, maybe even doodle bugs. They are night feeders and feed on organic matter. They usually do not damage plants unless it is young, tender and close to the ground. Garden centers sell pill bug bait which attacks them and when consumed, the bait containining Sevin insecticide kills them. You can make your own bait using an organic insecticide in mushed-up bananas or any decaying food material. Some people put large lids or boards in the garden area and pour hot water on the pill bugs after they have congregated. You can co-exist by protecting young seedlings with a band of insecticidal dust which allows maturing of plants before devouring by bugs. The more organic matter you have, the more rollie pollies you will have. Some gardeners recommend ducks or guineas.

17. Q: My ficus has tiny brown pods on the stems and has a very sticky residue on its leaves. I have sprayed the ficus leaves and the soil with Sevin several times. This seems to help but does not solve the problem completely. I also have washed every leaf on the tree. Please advise.

A: The sticky residue is the result of insect excretion on the leaves below where they are sucking the sap. This can be caused by aphids (tiny, round (fat) insects on the undersides of leaves) and the "tiny brown pods" are their shed skins. Rather than using Sevin, I would take the plant outside and thoroughly (tops and bottoms of leaves) spray with a systemic insecticide such as Orthene or DiSyston (Systemic Insecticide). Add two teaspoons of a liquid detergent such as Joy or Ivory Liquid. Repeat this spray after two weeks. If you want to use an organic insecticide you can use something such as OrganicPlus or whatever. These products will have to be used more often until the target insect is eliminated.

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