Patio Plants Logo
Don't get left out!
May is just another day away and I am planning now for spring planting service. If you are not already on my schedule, please call me (970-988-3808) or email me today! My spring planting service for container gardens begins on May 14 (weather permitting).

If you have already scheduled your planting day, THANK YOU!I look forward to seeing you soon.
What's bugging you? Insects in the garden
This year I'll be featuring a new series in my newsletters: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." There are somewhere between 6 and 10 million different species of insects on planet Earth! Each month I will highlight only three different insects or pests which are commonly found in this area. I hope you find it interesting!

Generally, all insects have 3 body segments, 6 legs, compound eyes and 1 pair of antennae. Life cycles vary widely; however, most insects hatch from eggs. Insects usually undergo some type of metamorphosis which may include an immature larvae stage which looks radically different from the adult stage, like butterflies. Other insects develop through a series of nymph stages and do not pupate into a different form, such as grasshoppers. The larvae stage of many insects is often the most damaging or the most beneficial.
The Good: Lacewings
Lacewing adults are slender, light green with pretty transparent wings and golden eyes. They lay their eggs on long filaments about ” long dangling from the leaf.  

The larvae look a bit like brown and white alligators, except with long hooked “jaws” extending in front of the head; they are good hunters, capable of killing insects much larger than themselves. 

Lacewings help control aphids, caterpillar eggs, lacewing larvaeyoung caterpillars, mealy bugs, scales, spider mites and whiteflies.
Lacewing larvae:
The Bad: Oystershell Scale 
Immobile most of their life, Oystershell Scale are tiny as a speck or up to ” long, looking like little raised bumps on twigs, trunks and leaves of  aspen, ash, cotoneaster, willow and lilac. Oystershell Scale can cause stunted growth, yellow foliage and bark cracking, thus  weakening trees or shrubs for other infections. 

Due to their hard shell, there are few natural predators but scale can be controlled by wiping off the tree with a kitchen scrub brush or cottonball soaked with rubbing alcohol; you may also rub the branches, squashing the bugs as you go.  Prune out badly infested tree branches.  Insecticides are effective only during the crawler stage, typically late May or early June.  Horticultural oil sprayed on deciduous plants in the late winter can also be effective.

ostershell scale
The Ugly: Mealy Bugs
About 1/8” long, oval shaped, covered with white or gray fuzz, Mealy Bugs are piercing, sucking insects which feed on leaves, stems and fruit.  They are common in hot, humid areas and are frequent houseplant and greenhouse pests.  Mealy Bugs excrete sticky “honeydew” which may attract ants or cause a black mold.

Always inspect new plants for mealy bugs before purchasing - especially houseplants. Small populations are not significantly damaging but large populations cause premature leaf drop.  You can remove by spraying the plant with a sharp jet of water or you can wipe them off with a Q-tip or cotton ball soaked in alcohol.

If you're really interested in bugs, here are a few good resources:
  • "Insect." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Apr. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2013.
  • Walliser, Jessica. Good Bug, Bad Bug: Who's Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically: All You Need to Know about the Insects in Your Garden. Pittsburgh, PA: St. Lynn's, 2008. Print
  • Sunset Western Garden Book. Menlo Park, CA: Lane, 1988. Print.
  • Leatherman, David, and Whitney Cranshaw. Insects and Diseases of Woody Plants of the Central Rockies. [Fort Collins, Colo.]: Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, 2000. Print.