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Beetles

October 29, 2016

QuestionAbout 6 weeks ago I had an attack of hundreds of Clematis Blister Beetles on my Autumn Clematis. They ate every green leaf before we killed them. Is this normal? The leaves are back now but don't think they will flower again this year.  

 

Answer

There are actually two species of blister beetles which can commonly attack clematis—the clematis blister beetle and the ebony blister beetle. Blister beetles get their common name because they can cause blisters when they come in contact with human skin. Blister beetles protect themselves from predators (and humans) by causing a caustic chemical called cantharidin to seep from their joints when alarmed.  This chemical can cause blisters on human skin, so care should be taken when dealing with this insect.   Adult female ebony blister beetles lay eggs from late summer until frost. Individuals may lay as many as 300 eggs in narrow cavities dug an inch in the soil, then fill the cavities with the excavated soil. Eggs hatch in about a month and they often find a host plant and go to town on it.  The clematis blister beetle, as the name implies, prefers clematis, but it will also feed on a number of wild plants, and the ebony blister beetle have been known to defoliate tomatoes, Swiss chard and Irish potatoes, along with clematis.  When they hit, the damage can be pretty dramatic seemingly overnight, but the sooner you spot them, the easier the control.  Even common Sevin (carbaryl) will control them. Rarely will it kill a plant, but it can interfere with blooming.


 

May 21, 2016

QuestionCan you give any ideas about how to prevent potato bugs?  I have grown potatoes for about 3 years but cannot rid my garden of them.  The potato plant itself still produces but they have "mowed" the top/green part of my patch down quickly.

 

AnswerIf you get Colorado potato beetles annually you can spray early with BT – Bacillus thuringiensis. This is only effective for the larvae stage, it will not control the adult beetles.  The larvae eat the coated leaves and it acts as a stomach poison, but won’t hurt beneficial insects.   For adults and larvae products containing carbaryl (Sevin) are effective, but be careful when applying these products as they are deadly to bees. 

 

October 2012

Question I live in Bella Vista. Yesterday, I found green bugs on my roses. They look like green lady bugs. Are they related to the red variety? Are they harmful to my roses? Should I spray and if so with what?

 

Answer Sounds to me like a cucumber beetle which has a little longer body than our typical lady beetle, but it has black spots on a green body. It is a nuisance insect and can transmit diseases. I would not encourage them, but try killing them with rotenone, pyrethrum or liquid Sevin. Avoid spraying when bees are present. Cucumber beetles often move on to the roses once they finish in the vegetable garden, so try to control them.


 October 2010

Question Please help! I have lost three large pine trees since the spring and my neighbor has simply given in and had all his pines cut down. The man at the tree service said the culprit is pine beetles--what can be done to stop them and save the remaining trees?

Answer I wish I had a better answer for you. Unfortunately, there are several common species of bark beetles that attack pines—the Southern pine beetle, the turpentine beetle and the IPS engraver beetle. Probably the most devastating is the Southern pine beetle. Some pine tree species are more susceptible than others as are weak or damaged trees. Trees damaged by lightning, ice, or drought and other natural events or construction are more likely to be infested. In the spring, beetles emerge and colonize new host trees. Infested trees decline rapidly especially during hot, dry summer months and infestations may spread from tree to tree as additional beetles are attracted to the site of infestation. Multiple generations may be completed within a year. If there are large populations they can attack healthy trees. While there are some sprays on the market, timing and repeated spraying would be needed, so they really are not all that effective—and they are for prevention, not cure. The best defense is a strong offense—keep your trees healthy and prune out any damage that occurs from weather. The turpentine beetle and the IPS engraver beetle often come in to finish off the trees that are too far gone to save anyway.


October 2007

QuestionI just planted some roses in my yard and now I have a beetle problem. I have tried Bayer rose food and pesticide granules but they didn’t work. Currently I started using Sevin spray formula but it washes off in the rain and the next morning I have beetles on my roses. Do you have any suggestions of long-term treatment. Also I noticed the beetles are eating a tree when they are not on the roses.

AnswerI am assuming by beetles you mean the Japanese beetle. These insects can wreak havoc in a short period of time and love roses. There are several insecticides on the market that can help, but I don’t think there is anything yet that is 100% effective. The Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub product can work, but it must be applied early in the season, when the plants are leafing out, not when you see beetle damage. You can also use Orthene, Decathlon (cyfluthrin), and permethrin. Japanese beetles are voracious eaters and feast on a wide range of plants. They give off a pheromone when feeding which attracts even more Japanese beetles, thus they often get into a feeding frenzy in a short period of time, so don’t ignore them.


 October 2006

Question We have a Bradford pear tree that is ten years old. It is growing beautifully, this year we discovered a series of small round borer type holes around the tree at evenly spaced intervals and rows about 4" apart. The holes are not deep -- barely1/4". We live in a heavily wooded area where pine trees are being attacked and dying of by beetles. Help Please, we don’t want to lose our tree.

Answer The problem is not borers but a woodpecker or sapsucker. Insects won't attack with such a distinctive pattern, birds will. The hole can go in a complete circle around the tree, or they can go up and down the tree. They often find a favorite tree and revisit it, having holes covering the surface. Usually it is not a problem, but occasionally they are going after insects in the tree. If the tree is doing fine otherwise, I wouldn’t worry. You can use scare devices or a tree wrap to keep the birds away.


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