Shrub and Ornamental Pest Control
As promoted by the University of Florida, all plants are treated based on the "Key Plant, Key Pest" concept. This means no blanket spraying but instead only treating specific pests which are attacking specific plants. An example of this is the treating of Lace bugs on Azaleas.
Horticultural oils are used on as many plant pests as they can control. Horticultural oil is a non-toxic plant spray that controls pests such as spider mites, scale, aphids, and many other pests. Stronger materials may be used but these are limited to the specific plants in need.
Plant care is more complex than turf care in that there are many different types of plants in one landscape. These can include hardwood trees, woody shrubs, palms, cycads, citrus annuals, ground cover and other accent plants. Each of these requires individual treatment as performed by Patriot Pest Management.
One of the keys to designing a low-maintenance Fort Lauderdale landscape that requires minimal use of pesticides is choosing plants that are naturally resistant to pest problems (including diseases). A particular plant's resistance or susceptibility to pests is variable and depends on individual plant characteristics; the type, proximity, and abundance of local pest populations; and the health of the plant. It is well documented that pests seek unhealthy plants to feed upon, that healthy plants are much more capable of rebounding after a pest infestation, and that healthy plants can actually prevent pests from reaching damaging population levels.
Many species of insects or mites attack South Florida landscape plants. Homeowners have difficulty controlling these pests because they often are either not aware of the problem until both the infestation and the damage are extensive or they may apply insecticides improperly or at the wrong time.
A close and thorough inspection is necessary to detect these pests and the type of pest to ensure proper control of the problem. Hugh Turner Pest Control can conduct a full landscape inspection to determine if and what type of treatment is necessary.
Below are brief descriptions of major groups of pests found on South Florida landscape plants (and the damage they cause) to assist with identification.
Sucking insect pests cause damage by removing sap from plant tissues. Symptoms of infestation include wilting of plant tissues, stunting, curling or distortion of new growth, spots or stippling of the leaf surface, or a sticky substance or black fungal growth on the upper leaf surface. Common insects and mites causing this type damage include aphids, scale insects, mealybugs, lace bugs, whiteflies and spider mites.
Aphids are small (about 1/4 inch in length), soft-bodied insects that vary in color from green to yellow to black. Some species are winged during certain times of the year. Generally, aphids can be recognized by a pair of tube-like structures projecting from the rear of their bodies. Aphids secrete a honeydew substance that encourages the growth of black sooty mold on plant material. They are frequently found clustered together in large numbers on the backs of leaves or on the stems of new growth.
Scale insects and mealybugs
Scale insects are very small, soft-bodied pests that secrete a protective covering over their bodies. These coverings vary in color from white to red to black. Some are flattened while others are more turtle-shaped. This covering protects the scale and makes control difficult. Scale insects are most easily controlled when insecticide applications are timed for the first “crawler” stage of the scale. Mealybugs are similar to scale insects; however, they secrete a white waxy material over their bodies. Mealybugs also move about on the host plant to feed.
Lace bugs get their name from the appearance of the area behind their head and wing covers. The area forms a lacelike covering over the body of the insect. They are 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length and are partially transparent. Lace bug damage appears on the upper leaf surface as white to yellow spots. The lower leaf surfaces will be cluttered with black spots and the old cast skins of immature lace bugs.
Whitefly adults resemble small gnats. They range in size from 1/10 to 1/16 inch and have four broad, delicate, milk-white wings. The immature whiteflies are attached to the underside of leaves and resemble scale insects. They are oval, flattened and yellow to almost transparent. Whiteflies secrete a honeydew substance that encourages the growth of black sooty mold on plant material. Whiteflies often occur in tremendous numbers and when a heavily infested plant is disturbed, the air is filled instantly with a white cloud of these insects.
Spider mites are most often found on the backs of leaves. They are so small they can barely be seen with the unaided eye. The adults are oval-shaped and have eight legs and no antennae or wings. A sign of their presence is a stippling appearance on the upper sides of leaves on broadleaf plants and a browning of needles on conifers. Sometime webbing is present.
Chewing insect pests cause damage by consuming plant parts such as leaves and stems or burrowing in plant tissues, which damages the host plant. Symptoms of chewing insect pests include holes in leaves, silvering of leaf tissue, complete removal of leaf tissues and burrowing in or around plant stems, branches or trunks. Common insects causing this type of damage include tent caterpillars, webworms, bagworms, shade tree borers and other beetles.
Insecticide and Miticide Treatments
It is essential to use some residual insecticides to protect trees, shrubs, and turf. Many destructive insects emerge over an extended period of time or are highly mobile. Non-residual chemicals kill only those insects contacted at the time of application. It is not feasible to spray diverse ornamentals frequently enough to protect them from many types of pests. Residual insecticides are highly effective for those species and are essential until suitable alternatives can be developed. Pesticides vary greatly in their properties. Insecticides and miticides have varying residual properties depending on how they are used. Most miticides have considerable residual effectiveness for several days or more. Pesticides also vary in their effects on pests. For example, Carbaryl kills insects but not mites. The use of carbaryl actually encourages larger mite populations than if it is not used at all. Other insecticides have some effect in depressing mite populations but are not adequate for thorough control of mite infestations. When using pesticides, it is essential to treat only when necessary with accurate amounts of the recommended chemical. Over spraying is uneconomical, potentially hazardous, not more effective, and may cause plant injury or result in environmental imbalances favoring certain pests.
At Hugh Turner Pest Control, we understand the complexity of treating pests on landscape ornamentals and the need to treat each property as the unique area that it is. In doing so, we not only ensure the elimination of the pest we also take every precaution to ensure your health and the health of the environment.