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Gardening with Laurie: Garden pests very active in late summer

By By Laurie Garretson
Aug. 9, 2012 at 3:09 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

August in the garden can be such a busy time of the year. I just wish we had lower temperatures and a bit less humidity to make our gardening chores easier to accomplish.

Try to schedule all outdoor jobs for early or late in the day to avoid the heat.

Late summer is usually a very active time for many garden pests, so keep a close watch on all your landscape plants. I've had many complaints the past couple of weeks about mealy bugs, whiteflies and aphids.

Mealy bugs are a very persistent pest that can quickly spread throughout the garden and cause lots of damage if not treated when it's first noticed.

Mealy bugs are usually found where the leaf connects to the stem, especially on newer growth. You might think you're seeing little tufts of cotton from their appearance. When left alone, they can quickly cover an entire plant. These are sucking insects that will suck nutrients from the plant.

Yellow sticky traps, horticultural oils, and insecticidal soaps are all good things to help get rid of this pest.

Whiteflies look like tiny moths that are covered with a waxy powder. You will notice them flying around a plant when you brush your hands over the stems.

Using liquid seaweed as a fertilizer on a regular basis can help prevent whitefly problems.

But once you have whiteflies, you can treat them with the same things used for mealy bug control, as mentioned above. Then start using the liquid seaweed.

Aphids are usually found on the tender, new growth of plants. Aphids are about the size of a pin head and will most often be in large groups. Aphids can be green, black, pink, brown, red or yellow.

Aphids are also sucking insects, just as are the whiteflies and mealy bugs.

Usually, just a strong spray of water every day for a week from the garden hose is enough to get rid of these pests.

If you grow any types of cannas in your gardens, be on the look out for the leaf roller caterpillar. This caterpillar will make a tent for itself by using silk threads to tie up a canna leaf. Living inside the tent, the caterpillar will feed on the leaf. Leaves will become shredded and tattered as the result of this pest.

Keep the plants sprayed with a BT spray to get rid of this guy. It is a very good practice to cut back and destroy the above ground portion of your cannas in the late winter to get rid of any of the unseen leaf roller population.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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