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Here we are the end of May after Memorial Day weekend and the “unofficial” start of summer. And, hotter days. Unfortunately, it is also the beginning of bugs on our plants and flowers. It is frustrating to watch plants we’ve struggled so hard to get going get attacked by insects or suffer from fungal diseases. This past couple of weeks I have lost count of how many customers have come in with plant samples showing symptoms of insect or disease damage. The big question is ‘how do we tell what’s eating our plants?” Customers come to us to get professional advice as to what is going on with the plant.
Basically, there are 3 main types of bad bugs – CHEWING, RASPING, AND SUCKING. Each type of insect causes different damages to the plant. If you are not sure what is causing your plant problems then it is always best to bring us a sample and let us try to diagnose the cause and then make the right chemical recommendation.
If you decide to spray, there are a couple of things to pay attention to. First and most important is to READ THE LABEL of the product you are about to use. Believe it or not, this is a Virginia state law. If you don’t understand something, ask! NEVER MIX THE SPRAY STRONGER THAN THE LABEL INDICATES. More is not better, and you may damage the plants you are trying to save. Be thorough, paying special attention to spraying the undersides of the leaves as well. Spray from the upwind side of the area to avoid having the spray blow back onto you. Use a decent sprayer and keep it clean.
Remember, general insecticides will kill the insect but can’t kill any insect eggs that may be present. So, when you spray, you will eliminate the bugs that are there but the next generation of them will be hatching within a few days. What this means is that when you spray once you are committed to another spraying a few days later. This way you will kill the second generation before they have a chance to mature enough to lay more eggs. In general, one spraying is usually not enough.
When you have an insect or other problem with a plant, the best way to get the correct solution is to bring a sample of the insect or damage to The Great Big Greenhouse. Have the sample(s) in a sealed plastic bag. These samples will avoid guesswork. We have many knowledgeable and talented associates here at The Great Big Greenhouse and this sample will give us to best shot in making sure we diagnose the problem correctly.
I can’t stress enough the importance of proper insect identification and the proper suggested product for control.