USNA Pest Control Tip of the Month

The United States National Arboretum maintains a list of best practices for pest control. Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM), the USNA focuses on sustainable control of pests for long term garden growth.

The best way to manage pests is to use a combination of chemical and non-chemical control. Only take action when the problem is serious enough to damage the plant. If we all use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), we can control pests in an environmentally conscious manner.


Lacebugs, source: Forest & Kim Starr via wikicommons

Watch out for lacebugs, which damage pieris and azaleas. These winged pests are small at an eighth of an inch, are whitish, and evidenced by light green and specked yellow leaves. Lacebugs can be controlled with horticultural oil or soap. In the image at right, the yellowish and white patches are lacebugs.

Flea Beetles

Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes beware! Flea beetles are on the prowl, attacking young transplants. suggests row covers to secure new transplants, then pyrethrum organic pesticide for flea beetle infestations.

Harlequin Bug

The harlequin bug feeds on vegetable as well as flowering plants. In youth, population growth can be rapid, and adults can survive winter temperatures to plague a garden year round. Evidence of this pest are brown and distorted leaves or flower petals, caused when the harlequin bug sucks out the contents of plant cells.


Ladybug & aphids, Source: Greyson Orlando via wikicommons

For aphids, suggests resisting chemical pesticide use. The reason? Predator insects feed off of the aphid, allowing higher predator population in the garden to control other pests. The image right shows one such predator ladybug with aphids on a plant.


Cutworms feed on seedlings, eating through the stem. The unsupported seedling then topples. Transplanted seedlings should be protected with “collars”. These can be fashioned from tin cans or paper cups. Gardeners can be surprised to find large numbers of seedlings felled in the morning, after the cutworms midnight snack. These collars can prevent this unfortunate meal.


Grey mold, or Botrytis, affects fruit and flowers. Eliminate any flowers or fruit with this infection before it spreads to other plants or fruit. Wind and water can transfer spores, so take care. Grey mold has the appearance of soft felt.


bagworm, source: JonRichfield via wikicommons

Here in the beautiful Southern California, this next pest is less of an issue. The bagworm is a caterpillar which attacks trees, and can eventually kill a healthy plant. Easily controlled with Bt, bags hatch in spring and should be eliminated when noticed at any time of year. In the image at right, a bagworm’s bag is closed in defense as it hangs on the stalk of a plant. Females stay in their bags upon hatching, while the male moth travel to mate.

This post is a summary, and the full article by USNA can be read here: Pest Management Tips: June

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