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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Early Spring Pests

Posted by John Fulton -

Early in the spring, there are many pests that become active. Many of these are timed by the saucer magnolia blooms, according to Orton's "Coincide" book. Spruce spider mites become active when magnolia blooms are in the pink stage. This means the 2010 weather is running about two weeks ahead of last year. Not much of a surprise given the temperatures we have experienced. These mites are one of the major downfalls of spruce in our area. One of the early symptoms is a "mottled" appearance to the needles. Another is fine webbing attached to needles.

To determine if you have spruce spider mites, hold a piece of white paper under a branch and shake it. The mites will look like moving dust specks on the paper. Many times, there will be some fine webbing, like spider web, visible on the needles as well.

Spruce spider mites can be controlled with sprays of acequinocyl, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, insecticidal soap, or summer oil spray. The soap or oil sprays will require a second application about a week later to give good control. These mites normally remain active until mid-May, but the cool conditions may extend their life cycle, as happened last year. These mites will again be active in the cool fall weather.

Other spring pests are also indicated by the saucer magnolia. During the bloom stage, just finishing now, the ash plant bug, fall cankerworm, spring cankerworm, Fletcher scale, leaf crumpler, eastern tent caterpillar, juniper webworm, and Zimmerman pine moth are susceptible to control. As we get to the petal fall stage, European pine sawfly, Gypsy moth, hawthorn mealybug, honeylocust pod gall, and willow aphid become susceptible to control.

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