Spring time is the best time for pests
By Darrell Blackwelder
For the Salisbury Post
Now that it’s warm, there are a number of spring insect pests around the home that are becoming a problem for homeowners.
Cooperative Extension has received numerous inquiries about a variety of insects. Below are few insects around the house that may be bugging you.
Tent caterpillars. These hungry larvae spin an ugly web in the crotches of shade trees, especially those in the Prunus species. Larva venture out during the day to feed and return to the protective web in the evening. Tent caterpillars normally do not kill trees, but are quite a nuisance. Reports are coming in of caterpillars crawling over porches, decks and even trying to crawl indoors, as one homeowner said.
The best way to deal with these insects is to physically remove the web, exposing larva to natural predators such as birds and other insects. Don’t burn the webs while on the tree. Biological pesticides containing BT’s such as Dipel or Thuricide control them.
Carpenter bees. A few carpenter bees are starting to show up in all areas of Rowan County. The initial activity is often by males who are busy buzzing about looking for the lady bee of their dreams. The males are often territorial and will actually harass people sitting on wooden park benches or on their porches. There is really no pesticide that will give extended protection against these pests. Once these insects take up residence, they return each year to extend their family.
There are two major problems dealing with carpenter bees: an effective chemical residue that endures throughout the entire period of bee activity and the ability to apply any pesticide to all of the surfaces that need protection, particularly overhead on soffit and fascia boards.
Other than swatting the bees with a badminton racket, your next best option is to apply a pesticide into active tunnels and then seal up the hole. Dust insecticides, such as Sevin Dust, can be quite effective.
Leaf miners on boxwoods. Leaf miners larvae make boxwoods look horrible by riddling leaves. Leaves turn brown and become distorted during the summer. Severe infestations make cause leaf drop. All boxwoods are affected; however, slow growing, old English boxwoods seem to be less susceptible. American boxwoods are their favorite plant.
Leaf miner adults are easy to recognize. The fly is yellow orange and they tend to “cloud up” when plants are shaken. It is very important to control insects now to prevent re-infestation of the shrub. Merit, permethrin or Conserve will control the adults.
Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. For more information please visit the Rowan County Master Gardener web site at www.rowanmastergardener.com or the Rowan Horticulture Blog at http://rowanhorticulture.blogspot.com/; call 704-216-8970.