Category Archives: Insects, Diseases and Other Pests

Avoid Introducing Nematodes to Potted Plants

While planting pansies and some other cool season annuals in pots, planters and in flower beds recently, I was reminded about nematodes. If you are unfamiliar with nematodes, they are microscopic roundworms that live in the soil. Some nematodes are beneficial, and several are plant pests. The bad types feed on roots and other plant tissues, disrupting normal plant functions. One of the worst ones is called root-knot nematode. I first realized I had nematodes several years ago when I planted tomatoes in what I thought would be… Read More →

Put Your Garden to Bed and Get Ready for Spring

This is the time of year to put your flower and vegetable garden to bed, and start getting ready for your spring garden. Now that we’ve had some hard freezes, annual flowers and warm-season vegetables are finished and can be removed from the garden. Cut back browned tops of herbaceous perennials like salvias, phlox, lantana, cuphea, cannas, and others. Chop them up and throw them in the compost pile. I like to leave until spring the dried coneflower seedheads for finches to feed upon. Ornamental grasses can be… Read More →

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale – A New Pest on Crapemyrtles

As a follow up to last week’s post about crapemyrtles, I want to provide some details about a new pest that has recently been messing with these beautiful plants. It is called Crapemyrtle Bark Scale (CMBS), an exotic scale pest that was discovered in the U.S. only 10 years ago first in the Dallas area. It is very similar to another scale that gets on azaleas and other woody plants, but was recently determined with pretty good confidence that this scale is different and is a newly introduced… Read More →

Leafcutting Bees Make Perfect Holes

Ever wonder what makes those perfectly round holes in rose leaves?  Looks kind of like a giant hole punch.  That’s the work of a leaf cutting bee – a solitary bee that lines a hollow stem or other tube with leaf pieces for it nest. They make several chambers, each with an egg and a food supply for the developing larvae. They are also important pollinators of plants, so we should consider them a very beneficial insect, and the holey roses a decorative feature. For a more complete… Read More →

Fire Ants – Let Them Eat Bait

After the heavy rains last week, fire ant mounds began popping up again. The month of May is an ideal time to treat fire ants with a bait product before it gets hot. Baits are relatively inexpensive, require little labor to apply, and are safe for both you and the environment. The biggest drawback of baits is that they cannot be used all year round. Instead applications must be timed to periods when fire ants are actively looking for food. More on baits in a moment. The red… Read More →

Beware of Garden Bullies

  Occasionally gardeners may introduce a plant into their yard’s flower beds that initially seemed attractive and innocent, only to later discover they have a garden thug or bully. It’s the kind of plant that will race to occupy every available inch of soil, crowding out meeker and less aggressive plants, even to the point of becoming the dominant plant in the area. Experienced gardeners know what I am talking about, and many will have stories about what it took to eradicate the bully (assuming they were indeed… Read More →

Watch Out for Chinch Bugs

Hot and dry. That’s how they like it! “They” are chinch bugs, and this is chinch bug season, when the temperatures soar, and it’s tough to keep up with lawn watering. Chinch bugs can be tough to spot, because 1) they are small, about 1/6 to 1/5 of an inch, and 2) they are quick to hide in the thatch at soil level when disturbed. But their damage is unmistakable. Well, it can be mistaken for lack of water, because chinch bug infested St. Augustine causes the grass… Read More →

Don’t Breed Your Own Mosquitoes

Gardeners know the best time to be out doors tending the lawn, landscape and garden is in the early morning and late evening, when the sun is not beating down its extreme heat. This is the also the time when we are most likely to be bugged and bit by mosquitoes. Of course there are also mosquito species that bite during the day. Besides the aggravation of being bitten, mosquitoes also transmit diseases, with West Nile virus being the one of most recent concern. Mosquitoes also transmit heartworms… Read More →