Spring Insects – Lace Bugs

Lace Bugs!  Those speckled leaves on your rhodies and azaleas are usually a sure sign of lace bugs. Lace bug damage is first noticed as yellow spots on the upper leaf surfaces of affected plants. That’ because lace bugs damage plants by inserting their piercing-sucking mouthparts into the underside of leaves and sucking plant fluids. They kill surrounding cells as they feed causing the yellow spots to appear on the upper sides of the leaves. Heavy infestations cause leaves to brown and drop prematurely, which reduces growth or kills the plant.

Look at the undersides of leaves to detect active adults during the summer months. Turn a few leaves over and look for lace bugs with a 10 to 15 power hand lens or shake an infested branch over a white sheet of paper. The insects will fall off and may be more easily seen than on the foliage. The adults are 1/8-inch long with clear, lace-patterned wings. The transparent wings are held flat on the back. Their wings are lacy with two grayish-brown cross-bands connected in the middle. The adults have highly ornamented wings and a hood-like structure covering the head. The entire surface of the insect is covered with veins that look like lace.

Lace bugs are common pests of azalea, rhododendron, sycamore, broad-leaved evergreens and many deciduous trees and shrubs. Plants that attract lace bugs should be monitored early in order to determine if an infestation is building.

Elimination of the first generation of lace bugs is necessary if visual damage is to be avoided. Existing spotting and yellowing of leaves will not disappear once the lace bugs have been controlled. The undersides of leaves will also have brown splotches.  Most lace bug infestations occur in bright, sunny areas. If you plant lace bug-susceptible plants such as azalea and rhododendron in shady areas of the landscape, lace bugs are rarely a problem. One effective control method is simply spraying down infected plants with a hard jet of water from a hose in the spring. This will dislodge the young nymphs as they hatch in the spring. The tiny nymphs often die before they can find their way back to suitable leaves.

Insecticidal soaps and oils are usually adequate if they contact the nymphs directly. Additional applications may be needed to control nymphs hatching out of late-laid eggs or if re-infestations occur from surrounding landscapes. Make applications as soon as the eggs hatch in the spring, usually mid to late-May. Monitor the plants and repeat applications if re-infestations occur. If plants are repeatedly attacked, consider moving them into the shade.

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IRRIGATION Part 2

WHEN TO WATER

The best time to water is between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. There are many reasons why the experts say to water in the morning, but all the reasons originate from two place…bugs and disease. It seems logical to water at night to prevent water loss through evaporation, but a damp, dark landscape is a welcome wagon for bugs and disease. It is much less expensive to lose a little water through evaporation than it is to combat these pests with fungicides and pesticides.

Of course, if you live in an area where there are restrictions on water use, water when you can. A little water at the wrong time is better than none at all.

A QUICK INTRODUCTION TO DRIP IRRIGATION

Drip or trickle irrigation was conceived almost fifty years ago by an engineer in Israel, Symagha Blass. His observations of a tree near a leaky faucet having more growth than other trees nearby led him to patenting a low pressure water delivery system that applied water ‘drop by drop.’

It has been the agriculture sector of the irrigation industry that has benefitted the most from his discovery. Drip irrigation systems in agriculture provide many benefits to the farmer: Low pressure operation, fertilizer application directly to the root zone, weed control, because of reduced wetting areas, reduced run-off, and, most importantly, drip irrigation provides greater yields over more conventional irrigation techniques.

As in agriculture, drip irrigation of landscape projects provides reduced run-off, weed control, and accelerated plant growth. In addition, drip systems in landscaping allow for irrigating any time of day. Because drip emitters do not spray water, there is little evaporation, and no spray means no foliage or buildings getting wet.

One of the best reasons for using drip irrigation is the reduction of controller stations and valves. Because drip emitters flow so little water when compared to the conventional spray heads, you can irrigate more plants or plant area with the same amount of water. You should remember, however, that you will need more time to irrigate those plants since the application rate is so much slower.

TROUBLE SHOOTING

Because your irrigation system is outdoors and is exposed to the elements, and is made up of components which are sometimes damaged by lawn mowers, cars, etc., there may come a time when you will need to know what to do in the event of damage.

First, always be on the lookout for malfunctioning sprinkler heads and soggy areas that may indicate an underground water leak. If your irrigation system is in some way damaged, there are several different things you can do.

1. If the damage is one particular sprinkler head, you can simply turn off the section on the controller which the damaged head is located in. By turning off this one section, the remainder of your landscape is irrigated without interruption.

2. If, for some reason, #1 is not effective, unplug the controller from the source of electricity. This will turn off your entire irrigation system, so none of the sections will receive water.

3. If this is still ineffective, there is probably a break in the main water line that supplies the system. To stop the leak and to stop the supply of water to the entire system, turn off the main water valve that is located near your water meter.

If you need further assistance, please feel free to call.

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