Azalea Lace Bug

Source(s): Stephen D Pettis


The azalea lacebug is a pest that gardeners in the South face nearly every year. As azaleas begin to bloom, the insect begins its lifecycle. By the end of the summer, gardeners find their azalea leaves covered with yellow speckles and the plants are stressed. This leads to reduced vigor and flowering the subsequent year is diminished.

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This nuisance pest infests most Rhododendron species although less serious infestations may go unnoticed. Damage appears as stippling or yellow spotting caused by the insect’s feeding on leaves with its sucking mouthparts. Feeding mars the appearance of foliage on both deciduous and evergreen azaleas. The feeding occurs on the underside of the leaves and is apparent on the upper leaf surface in the form of bleached, chlorotic spots that persist through leaf drop. Severe infestations can cause leaves to turn brown and impact overall plant health and vigor.

The adults are between 3 mm long and 1.5 mm wide and dark in color. The insects have a hood-like covering on the head and net-like, lacy, off-white wings with mottled brownish-black markings that may be seen with a hand lens. The insect resembles a fly that has lacy wings thus the name lacebug. Eggs may be visible with the use of a hand lens and appear as smooth, white football shaped objects that are deposited on the underside of leaves. These deposits are usually found along the central leaf vein and are covered with blackish, varnish-like fecal spots that are a diagnostic sign.

Nymphs, the tiny immature insects that follow the eggs in the lacebug lifecycle, are colorless when newly hatched, but quickly become dark and develop spines. The insect passes through five nymphal stages and sheds its skin each time. The cast skins often remain attached to the underside of leaves.

Azalea lacebugs over-winter primarily as eggs on the underside of leaves thus favoring evergreen azaleas. Eggs mature in response to temperature and in Georgia typically begin to hatch in March to early April. There are usually 3 to 4 generations per year and during the growing season the insect progresses from egg to adult in about 30 days.

Controlling this insect is simple. Growers should begin scouting for the eggs and cast skins in Mid March. Usually, a single well-timed spray is sufficient to prevent serious aesthetic injury. Applications should be timed to coincide with the first signs of the nymphal hatch stage that normally occurs in March to mid April. Chemical controls include acephate Orthene (acephate), Bayer Advanced Insect Spray (imidacloprid), oils, and soaps. Remember to read the label carefully and follow all instructions when using pesticides. If you have any questions about azalea culture or about azalea lacebug control, please contact your local County Extension Agent.


Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 65

Azalea Caterpillar (Datana major), Controlling a Fall Pest

Source(s): Jacob G Price


Azalea caterpillars feed almost exclusively on azaleas. They usually feed in groups and emerge mostly in August or September. These caterpillars raise their head and posterior in unison when disturbed. Can defoliate plants if left untreated.

Azalea Caterpillar

Azalea Caterpillar Description

The immature caterpillar is approximately 1/2 inch long and reddish to brownish-black with white and yellow stripes. The mature caterpillar is about 2 inches long, black, and has 8 yellow to white longitudinal broken stripes. The head and legs are crimson or reddish in color.

Life Cycle

Little is known about this insect. There seems to be only one generation per year. Eggs are deposited by the in masses of 80-100 on the underside of the leaf. The first-instar caterpillars feed in a cluster side by side unless disturbed. The adult form is a light brown moth with a wingspan of approximately two inches.

Control

Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel) may be used when the larvae are small. Sevin, malathion, horticultural oils and cyfluthrin are products recommended. Follow label recommendations for chemicals. If the numbers are small enough they can be removed by hand. Larger caterpillars must be sprayed directly to control because of decreased eating when nearing pupae stage.


Resource: Azalea Caterpillar

 

Attracting Birds with Ornamental Plants

Source(s): Randy Drinkard


Birds can be an important aspect of our backyard environment. In many cases, the quality of our environment is perceived to be directly related to the population of birds. The bird population in your yard or neighborhood park can be increased with the proper selection and arrangement of ornamental trees and shrubs. The selection of food-producing plants can ensure the presence of birds year-round.

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To attract and maintain a bird population, a habitat should provide (1) food, (2) cover, (3) nesting areas, and (4) water. Ornamental trees and shrubs can supply the necessary cover (shelter) and nesting areas. Many ornamental plants can satisfy more than one habitat requirement. For instance, multi-stem plants that form a dense canopy will satisfy the needs for nesting and also provide cover.

The food source for birds should be supplied, as much as possible, by the trees and shrubs in the yard. To maximize the natural food source, select plants to ensure an available food source year-round. The use of trees and shrubs native to your locale will help ensure that appropriate fruits and berries are available for the local bird population. If the landscape does not supply food during certain periods, you can supplement with commercial mixes of bird seed. This will help keep birds in the vicinity of your yard. Some birds eat a wide variety of seeds while others prefer one or two types. The seeds that appeal to the majority of birds are sunflower, proso millet, and peanut kernels.

Birds require a place of cover or shelter if they are to become long-term residents. They require protection from inclement weather (sun, heat, wind, and rain) and natural predators. This is why the multi-stem plants that form a dense canopy are preferred by birds. The dense canopy also provides an ideal environment for nesting. Since birds require shelter year-round, the yard should have a mix of deciduous and evergreen plants. Evergreen plants include broadleaf evergreens, such as holly, and conifers, such as red cedar. Several references suggest that at least 25% of the trees and shrubs should be evergreen.

A source of fresh water is also necessary to maintain your bird population. The water source should be shallow (no more than 2″-3″ deep) and replaced on a regular basis. Running water, such as a shallow fountain, is the ideal water source. The water source should be elevated or in the middle of an open area to minimize predation by cats and other animals. An elevated bird bath or fountain is ideal.

A recommended list of trees and shrubs to enhance the bird population follows. Attributes that must be considered before selecting the trees/shrubs for your yard include, (1) the habitat element provided, (2) fruiting season, (3) deciduous (loses leaves in winter) or evergreen, and (4) size of mature tree (to fit with available space).

Trees and Shrubs for Attracting Birds
Southeastern Trees & ShrubsProvides:Fruiting SeasonDeciduous or EvergreenSize (sm, med, lg)
CoverFood
BeechXFall, winterDM
Black cherryXXSummerDM
Black gumXXSummerDL
BlueberryXXSummerDS
DogwoodXXFall, winterDM
ElderberryXSummerDS
HawthornXXSpringDM
HollyXXWinter, springEM
Japanese yewXXSummer, fallEM
MagnoliaXXSummerEL
MulberryXSpring, SummerDL
NandinaXXFall, winterES
OaksXXFallDL
PinesXSpring, summer, fallEL
PyracanthaXXFall, winterES
Red cedarXXFall, winterEM
Red mapleXSpringDL
River birchXSummer, fallDM
SumacXFall, winterDM
Sweet gumXSummer, fallDL
VibernumXXWinterES
Wax myrtleXXSummer, fallEM

To make your yard more suitable for birds, conduct an inventory of trees/shrubs in your landscape and develop a table similar to that in this article. From this list, a) determine the mix of evergreen and deciduous trees, b) look at the time of fruiting and identify season(s) without food supply, and c) ensure that adequate cover and nesting habitat is provided. The following are two examples of possible situations in your yard and how to use the chart:

  • You have very few evergreen trees/shrubs (hence minimal shelter in the winter) but also have only small areas for additional plants. Select plants that are classified as evergreen (E) and are small sized at maturity. These plants (red cedar, nandina, viburnum, pyracantha, Japanese yew, holly, and wax myrtle) are relatively small trees.
  • You need a food source for the spring but have limited yard area available. An excellent solution is to plant hawthorn, especially mayhaws. They are a small multi-stem shrub that bear fruit in the spring and attract a wide variety of birds.

In most instances, you will find that the addition of a few carefully selected plants can increase the bird population in your yard.


Resource(s): Landscape Plants for Georgia

Center Publication Number: 163

Atlanta Urban Garden Program

Source(s): Faith Peppers, CAES- Office of Communications, The University of Georgia.


It is often said that gardening is good for the soul. Gardeners in Bobby Wilson’s Atlanta Urban Gardening Program find it’s not only good for the soul, but the mind and the wallet as well.

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“The Atlanta Urban Gardening Program is more than just planting a seed and watching it grow,” Wilson said. “It’s about growing communities, training new leaders, feeding the hungry and homeless, establishing farmers markets and working with youths and adults through gardening.”

Wilson, an area Cooperative Extension agent for Fulton and DeKalb counties, is the coordinator of the Atlanta Urban Gardening Program. He came to UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences 16 years ago from St. Paul, Minnesota to get closer to his Mississippi roots.

“I really wanted to get back to the South,” Wilson said.

Since Wilson took over the urban gardening program, more than 200 garden sites have been established, and he has helped form community partnerships with the Atlanta Community Food Bank, the Federation of Southern Coops, the Buddy Valentino Foundation, the Sullivan Center and others. The vital partnerships have helped the program reach deeper into the community.

“This year alone we started 12 new gardens at local daycare facilities, public housing complexes and facilities for the physically challenged,” Wilson said.

In 1995, Wilson added the Atlanta Urban Gardening Leadership Program to the gardening program.

“The leadership program is designed to give community gardeners a leadership lesson, a gardening lesson and a chance to meet other gardeners from across Atlanta,” Wilson said. “From this program we also started an outreach program. We feed more than 300 homeless people once a month in an Atlanta shelter. We adopted a school in Costa Rica where we sent school supplies for two years, and we give coats and blankets to the homeless.”

The gardeners also are learning about business.

“Participants have learned business skills through our value-added products developed from our community gardens,” Wilson said. “We have our own labeled brands of pepper sauce, chow-chow, pepper jelly and scrub-a-dubs made from loofa sponges from our gardens.”

These products produced by the gardeners and packaged under their label, Atlanta’s Own Hot Urban Success, are available for sale by the community gardens and can be found in some restaurants in the metro area.

“The money from the products goes back into their local community garden program,” Wilson said, “It helps the gardeners learn that they can feed their families and make a little money from gardening.”

If you are thinking Wilson works with new city dwellers in expensive new lofts and high-rise condos, think again.

“Our community gardeners, who themselves are from underserved communities, feel they have been blessed and because of these blessings they know they can be a blessing to someone else,” he said.

“It wasn’t so much agriculture or horticulture as it was working with people. I enjoy working with people, and this is the ideal job for me: Working in communities throughout Atlanta. I get to interact with people from all walks of life,” he said.


Resource(s): Vegetable Gardening in Georgia

Center Publication Number: 236

Asian Longhorned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis)

Source(s): Jacob G Price


Description

Adults are glossy black with up to 20 irregular distinct white spots. Their bodies are from 1-1 1/2 inches long and their antennae are the same length or longer.

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Biology

In China there is one or two generations per year. In June/July or September/October, females chew a small cavity in the bark and deposit an egg which becomes a larvae that burrows deep into the tree, feeding first on the phloem, then the xylem. The larvae overwinter deep within the tree and upon maturation, the mature beetle chews its way out leaving a 3/8’s of an inch diameter hole. Beetles emerge from May to August, peaking in early July. Females live 14-66 days and males live 3-50 days. After mating the female usually only moves a short distance before laying 30-70 eggs individually on a host tree.

Control

There are no approved pesticides in use in the United States which control the ALB. Once a tree becomes infested the only option is to cut, chip and burn, the infested tree.

Host Trees

Prefers maples and horsechesnut. Readily attaches poplars, willow, elms, mulberry, black locust, and several commercial fruit trees. Since the ALB is new to North America, new species of hardwoods are continually being added to the list of host species.


Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 79

Asian Ambrosia Beetle

Source(s): Steve Pettis


If you own a cherry tree or a Japanese Maple, be vigilant! There is an insect pest out there stalking your prized landscape tree. It is very tiny but it can bring even large trees down. The insect is a beetle and it is an illegal immigrant known as the Asian ambrosia beetle.

Asian Ambrosia Beetle

Asian Ambrosia Beetle

The Asian ambrosia beetle was accidentally imported to the United States in some peach trees in North Carolina that had arrived from China in 1974. Since then, this insect has spread all over the U.S. and has caused millions of dollars in plant loss. Every year, nursery owners spend money to prevent its damage in the southeast.

Asian Ambrosia Beetle Behavior

The female Asian ambrosia beetle emerges in spring from her winter habitat inside an infested tree and travels to a suitable nearby shrub or tree. She looks for a small plant or limb 1 to 2 inches thick, and begins to bore into it. She moves fast eating her way through an inch of wood per day.

As the insect eats her way through the tree, she ejects sawdust out of the entrance hole. The sawdust exiting the hole forms toothpick-like protrusions. This is the key diagnostic feature of Asian ambrosia beetle damage. Scout for this sawdust in early spring on trees and shrubs.

Asian Ambrosia Beetle Diet

The insect doesn’t actually eat the wood but excavates tunnels that serve as habitat. She introduces a fungus into the tunnel, which is carried on her back from her last home. When her eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the fungus. It is this fungus that kills the tree eventually. It clogs the vascular system of the plant causing it to wilt and eventually die.

Many species of trees and shrubs are susceptible to this beetle. I have observed them attacking Tulip poplars, oaks, ornamental cherry, crape myrtle, redbud, hickory and Japanese maple. Asian ambrosia beetle will attack almost any broadleaf tree or shrub and that is a suitable size healthy or not.

Asian Ambrosia Beetle Life Cycle

Almost the entire life cycle of the insect is spent inside the plant, making the beetles hard to control with insecticides. The only time out of the tree is when it emerges in early spring to either reinfect the same tree or to seek out a new one. There are traps that can be used to monitor the insect’s emergence in February.

Asian Ambrosia Beetle Control

Asian ambrosia beetles must be controlled but how? There are no systemic insecticides that will kill the beetles in the trees. Once in the tree, the beetle itself is harmless. It is the fungus that actually kills the tree. Infested trees will most likely die eventually.

The best way to control AAB damage is by prevention. Trunk sprays using pyrethroid insecticides applied in late February or when the first beetle is trapped offers protection. Products available to commercial pesticide applicators such as Pounce, Astro and Onyx all show great promise in controlling this pest. Homeowners should use outdoor tree and shrub insecticides containing imidacloprid or bifenthrin. Homeowners should remove affected plants or plant parts and they should be burned. The trunks of remaining plants should be treated with an appropriate insecticide and monitored.


Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 107

Armadillos, Georgia’s only Shelled Mammal

Source(s): Michael T. Mengak


Armadillos in Georgia

Scientists classify armadillos with anteaters and sloths. They have poorly developed teeth and limited mobility. In fact, armadillos have small, peg-like teeth that are useful for grinding their food but of little value for capturing prey. No other mammal in Georgia has bony skin plates or a “shell,” which makes the armadillo easy to identify. Just like a turtle, the shell is called a carapace.

Georgia Armadillos

Armadillos are common in central and southern Georgia and are moving northward. Only one species of armadillo lives in Georgia and the southeastern United States, but 20 recognized species are found throughout Central and South America. These include the giant armadillo, which can weigh up to 130 pounds, and the pink fairy armadillo, which weighs less than 4 ounces. About two million years ago a relative of the armadillo as large as a rhinoceros lived in South America, and small cousins lived as far north as Canada. These disappeared in the ice ages long before humans inhabited North America.

Taxonomy

Order Xenarthra – Armadillos, Anteaters, and Sloths
Family Dasypodidae – Armadillo
Nine-banded Armadillo – Dasypus novemcinctus

The genus name, Dasypus, is thought to be derived from a Greek word for hare or rabbit. The armadillo is so named because the Aztec word for armadillo meant turtle-rabbit. The species name, novemcinctus, refers to the nine movable bands on the middle portion of their shell or carapace. Their common name, armadillo, is derived from a Spanish word meaning “little armored one.”

Status

Armadillos are considered both an exotic species and a pest. Georgia law prohibits keeping armadillos in captivity, however. Because they are not protected in Georgia, they can be hunted or trapped throughout the year. There are no specific threats to their survival. Armadillos have few natural predators. Many are killed while trying to cross roads or highways or when feeding along roadsides.

Description

The nine-banded armadillo is about the size of an opossum or large house cat. They are 24 to 32 inches long of which 9½ to 14½ inches is tail. The larger adult males weigh between 12 and 17 pounds whereas the smaller females weigh between 8 and 13 pounds. They are brown to yellow-brown and have a few sparse hairs on their bellies. Long claws make them proficient diggers. They have 4 toes on each front foot and 5 on each back foot. The toes are spread so that a walking track looks somewhat like an opossum or raccoon. The ears are about an 1½ inches long and the snout is pig-like.

Distribution

About two million years age, a relative of the armadillo as large as a rhinoceros lived in South America. Smaller cousins lived as far north as Canada. All of these forms disappeared in the ice ages long before humans inhabited North America. At the start of the 20th century, the nine-banded armadillo was present in Texas. By the 1930s, they were in Louisiana and by 1954 they had crossed the Mississippi River heading east. In the 1950s, they were introduced into Florida and began heading north. Today, some maps (Georgia Wildlife Web: http://museum.nhm.uga.edu/gawildlife/ gaww.html) show them to be restricted to South Georgia but, in fact, they are present as far north as Athens and Rome, Georgia. They occur throughout the South from Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas through Missouri, eastern Tennessee and into South Carolina. They are currently absent from North Carolina but are likely to continue to move northward along the coast and into the Piedmont. Because they do not tolerate cold temperatures (below about 36 degrees F), several studies suggest that farther northward migration into the Appalachian Mountains will be limited.

Form and Function

The armadillo’s appearance is unique among Georgia’s mammals. The shell (carapace) is made up of scutes or bony plates attached to a tough epidermal skin layer. Since each scute overlaps slightly with the one before it, the entire shell appears to move like a telescope or accordion. The ears, underbelly and parts of the head and limbs are not covered by the shell. The head is relatively small. The skull is tubular; the lower jaw is long and slender. There are 7 or 8 teeth in each jawbone or 14-16 teeth in the lower jaw and the same number in the upper jaw. The teeth are small pegs with a single root. Armadillos can have 7-10 bands on the shell even though their name indicates nine. Males are about 25 percent heavier than females on average. Though males lack a scrotum and external testes, the sexes are easy to distinguish by the presence of four teats in females. Both sexes possess anal glands that protrude when the animal is excited. The anal glands produce a strong odor but, unlike a skunk, they do not spray.

Ecology

Armadillos dig their own burrows or use the burrow of another armadillo, tortoises or natural holes. They do not hibernate but neither can they tolerate high temperature (above about 85 degrees F). During the winter months they often are active during the warmer part of the day. During the hot summer, activity shifts to the cooler night hours. While they can remain in their burrows for several days, they do not store food or accumulate large stores of body fat, so they must eventually emerge to forage. In bad weather, they can freeze to death or starve if they are unable to locate food. Armadillos rely on a good sense of smell to locate food but have poor eyesight. They eat insects and surrounding soil and plant litter while foraging, so their droppings consist of undigested insect parts, soil and litter fragments. Droppings are about the size and shape of marbles.

Reproduction

Armadillos reach sexual maturity at about one year of age. They breed between June and August. They have delayed implantation (a step in development when the fetus attaches to the wall of the uterus), which can last for up to four months. Implantation occurs around November and gestation lasts about four months. Generally, the female produces only one litter per year. A single fertilized egg gives rise to four separate embryos. Thus each litter consists of four identical quadruplets. Fully formed young are born with their eyes open in March or April. They weigh 3-4 ounces at birth and can walk within a few hours but remain in the nest or burrow for 2-3 weeks. Then the young follow their mother while foraging. The young leave the nest at 20- 22 days (around the first or second week of June in south Georgia), drink water at 21-25 days, eat solid food at 35-42 days, eat insects at 71-74 days, and are weaned at 90-140 days. The armor plates on the young are soft and flexible at birth — not hardening to the typical adult form until July in south Georgia. The male plays no role in raising or caring for the young.

Feeding

Armadillos are largely insectivores but may consume fruit when available. Their skull, jaw and teeth are adapted to a specialized diet. Their tongue is sticky with rear facing hooks giving the tongue a rough texture. The armadillo’s diet consists mainly of invertebrates including insects (beetles, wasps, moth larvae) and also ants, millipedes, centipedes, snails, leeches, and earthworms. The exact composition varies by season, availability and geographic locations. Studies show they also consume fruit, seeds and other vegetable matter. They have been reported to consume newborn rabbits and at least one robin. It is unknown if they merely found these animals dead or not. Other items known to be consumed by armadillo include salamanders, toads, frogs, lizards, skinks, and small snakes.

University of Georgia researchers studying armadillos on Cumberland Island found that, although their diets varied seasonally, 99 percent of their diet consisted of beetle (Coleoptera) larvae, and ant and wasp (Hymenoptera) eggs, pupae and adults. White grubs and wireworms were the most frequently consumed larvae throughout the year. Armadillos were also found to consume earthworms, crabs, crayfish, butterfly and moth larvae, fruits and vertebrates. In addition, 60 out of 171 armadillo (35%) in the sample ate fruit. Grapes, saw palmetto, greenbrier and Carolina laurel cherry were most common in the diet. Armadillos also occasionally consumed spadefoot toad, five-lined skink, green anole, eastern fence lizard, rough green snake, and various snake and lizard eggs. Using remote cameras to study nest predation, several studies have shown that armadillos consume quail eggs. Other observers report that sea turtle eggs are eaten.

Feeding activity, such as digging, is often considered a nuisance, although consumption of ants, including fire ants, and white grubs may be beneficial in other ways. Small invertebrates are swallowed whole while large items are chewed. They will hold and tear apart larger food items with their claws and feet. In one study in Alabama, nearly every fire ant mound on the study site showed evidence of disturbance by armadillo. They seem undeterred by the bite of the fire ant. Armadillos have been observed tearing the bark from fallen trees, presumably to feed on the insects (beetles and termites) in the decaying wood. They move slowly while feeding and locate food items by smell. The diet shifts to fruits in the summer and fall as these items are often abundant in southern U.S. forests.

Behavior

Armadillos spend most of their active time outside the burrow feeding. They move slowly – traveling between 0.15 and 0.65 miles per hour — often in an erratic, wandering pattern. Often grunting like pigs and with their snouts to the ground, they forage by smell and possibly sound. They often use their sticky tongue to probe holes searching for food, but they are also powerful diggers. Foraging pits are up to 5 inches deep and are often found in moist soil. Periodically they will stop foraging, stand upright on their hind legs balancing with their tails, and sniff the air. They also take low hanging fruits from this posture.

Armadillos mark their territory with secretions from the anal gland. Individuals may be able to recognize others through scent marking. When alarmed they can run quickly. They have a habit of leaping vertically like a bucking horse before running away in a surprising burst of speed. The anal gland’s strong odor and the sudden leaping motion may momentarily startle a predator, possibly allowing the armadillo to escape.

Contrary to popular folklore, the nine-banded armadillo cannot curl into a ball to protect itself. Armadillos are good climbers and readily climb fences although they are not known to climb trees. They often use fallen and leaning logs and trees to escape rising water along streams and rivers. Armadillos can cross water by either swimming in a typical, dog-paddle motion or walking on the bottom while holding their breath. Buoyancy is increased by ingesting air into the stomach and intestines. Armadillos can cross small water bodies by holding their breath and walking underwater for short distances. One armadillo swam across a river 140 yards wide. Having a specific gravity of 1.06 helps, since it makes them heavier than water. Armadillo are known to take mud baths on hot days, perhaps to remove parasites or to coat themselves in cooling mud.

They make a variety of low grunting sounds when feeding or to call young to mother. Other sounds are described as “wheezy grunt,” “pig-like sound,” “buzzing noise” and a “weak purring” made by very young armadillo while attempting to nurse. They are capable of learning simple tasks in a laboratory, such as recognizing patterns in a Y-maze. They are primarily solitary animals except during brief periods for mating and mother-young groups.

Habitat

Armadillos prefer habitat near streams but avoid excessively wet or dry extremes. Soil type is important due to their burrowing. They prefer sandy or clay soils. Armadillos can be found in pine forests, hardwood woodlands, grass prairies, salt marsh and coastal dunes. Human created habitats such as pasture, cemeteries, parks, golf courses, plant nurseries and crop lands also provide suitable habitat. They also forage along roadsides. While foraging, armadillos always seem to know where they are and, if alarmed, often take a direct route to the safety of a nearby burrow or tangle of roots and briars. They usually dig their own burrows. Burrow entrances will be 8 to 10 inches across and range from 2 to 24 feet long averaging 3 to 4 feet. The burrow entrance is often concealed among clumps of vegetation, fallen logs or under buildings. Each armadillo may have 5 to 10 burrows. The average number of different burrows used per individual armadillo was 10.9. Other animals will use armadillo burrows including rabbits, opossums, mink, cotton rats, striped skunks, burrowing owls, and the eastern indigo snake.

Occasionally, armadillos will cohabit with other animals. Armadillo do not always dig a burrow; some will build nests out of dry grass. These nests resemble small haystacks and are often used in areas of wet soil. On Cumberland Island, University of Georgia researchers found that 75 per-cent of all dens were under saw palmetto plants. An individual’s home range varies from 1.5 to 22.5 acres. The home range size is smaller for the armadillo than for similar sized animals. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that armadillos on Cumberland Island had a home range of 13 acres in summer and only 4 acres in winter. Armadillos spent 65 percent of their time in burrows in winter compared to only 29 percent in summer.

Enemies

Armadillos have few wild predators, but coyotes, dogs, black bears, bobcats, cougars, foxes and raccoons are reported to catch and kill armadillos in places where these predators occur. Hawks, owls and feral pigs may prey on armadillo young. One study noted a decline in armadillo numbers as feral pig populations increased. Humans and highways are significant sources of mortality in many areas. One study in Florida, however, found no juveniles in a road-killed sample.

Populations

The sex ratio by litter is 1 male litter (= 4 identical quadruplets) per 0.78 female litters in Florida. Armadillos probably live 6 to 7 years in the wild. Population density is about one animal per 4 acres but could range as high as two animals per acre.

General

Their flesh is tasty and often eaten by people. Weather, especially cold winters, may be the most effective barrier to northern range expansion. Their normal body temperature is 92-95 degrees F.

Disease

Armadillos may carry diseases transmissible to humans, but reports are rare. Armadillos can acquire leprosy and are used in medical research to study this disease. Only two cases are known in which a human contracted leprosy from wild armadillos. Both cases are from Texas, and the transmission occurred by consuming raw or undercooked armadillo meat. There are no reported positive cases in Georgia, Alabama or Florida. One wild armadillo in Texas was reported to have rabies but no known transmission to humans has occurred. Armadillos on Cumberland Island, Georgia, had between 0 and 3 species of parasitic worms per individual. The average was 14 worms per individual armadillo but the impact of these parasites on the health of the animal is unknown.

Economic Value

One study in Texas from 1975-1979 put the total amount of damage at $20,000 for a limited area but did not specify the type of damage. In Georgia, 78 percent of county agents reported receiving requests for information regarding armadillos, and that armadillo complaints accounted for nearly 11 percent of all animal complaints they received each year. No dollar value was attached to the damage complaints, however. Furthermore, the monetary value of damage done to vehicles is not known.

Damage occurs to lawns and landscape due to digging for insects and other food items. Shallow holes 1 to 3 inches deep and 3 to 5 inches wide, usually shaped like an inverted cone, are the most common landowner complaints. Armadillos can uproot flowers and other plantings through their foraging. Damage is generally local and of a nuisance variety more than a large scale economic loss.

Legal Aspects

Armadillos are not protected in Georgia. There are no season or harvest restrictions.

Control to Reduce

Armadillo can be controlled by trapping. Wire cage live traps measuring at least 10 x 12 x 32 inches are recommended. Use of wings, constructed of 1 x 6 inch lumber in various lengths and placed in a V-arrangement in front of the trap can help to “funnel” the armadillo into the trap. Setting traps along natural barriers like logs or the side of a building increases capture success. Placing the trap in front of a burrow entrance is better than random placement in the environment. No bait, lure or attractant has been shown to be effective in increasing capture success, although there are numerous report of baits used with varying success. No repellents are registered for use with armadillo. No toxicants (poisons) are registered for use. Pesticide use to reduce insect populations in landscape settings may be effective. No fumigants are registered for use to control armadillo. Shooting is an effective control technique. Use a .22 caliber rifle in a safe and legal manner. Check city and county ordinances before discharging weapons. Always practice safe gun handling procedures.

Management to Enhance

Management activities are usually directed at control and elimination rather than enhancement.

Human Use

Native American Use – None. Armadillos are widely used (and considered a delicacy) by many cultures in Central and South America. Colonists View – None.


Center Publication Number: 196

Argentine Ants

Source(s): Willie Chance


When outdoor temperatures get hotter and conditions get drier, humans aren’t the only ones coming indoors. Argentine ants are marching inside, too.

ant1

If you have them, you definitely know it. They travel in trails into kitchens, offices and bathrooms searching for food and water.

These pests are usually Argentine ants which are small, just an eighth of an inch long. Native to South America, they were accidentally introduced into the United States more than 100 years ago in New Orleans coffee shipments.

They are one of the most difficult-to-control ants in the U.S. A single colony can consist of hundreds of thousands of ants.

University of Georgia entomologists say you can reduce your chances of having these ants in your home. To discourage them, rinse all drink cans before placing them into the garbage or recycling bin and by empty garbage containers often.

And, don’t leave any food or drinks out. Argentine ants love sugar and will show up to dine on it, literally by the thousands, overnight.

UGA experts don’t recommend using over-the-counter insect killer. You can use spray products for the ‘revenge factor,’ but you’ll never get rid of them all. You have to hit the nest, where all the queens are.

A bait that can be used indoors is Terro bait. It’s a liquid you can buy at most home-improvement and lawn-and-garden stores. Another effective bait is Combat Ant-Killing Gel. Use the product’s syringe and place small dabs anyplace you see ants.

If you reach a point of desperation, UGA entomologists say call a professional pest control company for help.


 

Center Publication Number: 266

Arborists Maintain Tree Health

Source(s): Steve Pettis

Who do you call when you need someone to prune a one hundred year old, one hundred and fifty foot tall oak tree that sits ten feet away from your house? Who do you call if your favorite 80-year-old pecan is starting to decline?

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A certified arborist, that’s who. Arborists are the surgeons of the tree trade as well as the physicians. They diagnose tree problems (diseases, insect infestations, and decline), implement strategies to mitigate poor tree health, and provide emergency tree care. At some time or another, everyone will need an arborist. Remember, trees are investments that can become liabilities if not cared for properly.

What does it mean to be a ‘certified’ arborist? It means the arborist has been through a rigorous training and testing process to assure that he or she meets the standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture for a qualified professional arborist.

These persons are well trained in tree health, pest management, soil fertility, assessing storm damage, cabling and bracing, and proper pruning techniques. In other words, they are specialists in the care of trees. If you were hiring a company to do any tree work at your home, I would recommend only using certified arborists. When soliciting for quotes, ask for proof of insurance and references as well. Always get three estimates. You will usually be required to sign a contract, so read it carefully.

Tree work is tough and physically demanding. Imagine spending your whole day climbing towering trees with spikes on your boots and a chainsaw attached to your belt. At first glance one might think these people are a little crazy, especially when one sees one of them walk out to the end of a limb sixty feet in the air. Crazy that is, until you realize they are always wearing safety rigging that is attached to the main trunk of the tree. The rigging is the same type used by mountain climbers. Every responsible tree person wears safety rigging, a hard hat, earplugs, and eye protection.

When an arborist does a consultation, he or she evaluates tree health and tries to recommend a plan to stop any tree decline. The arborist might recommend pruning to remove any dead wood or to shape the tree. If the tree has any unsafe branches or bad branch angles, the tree professional might cable the offending limbs. Cabling involves using heavy gauge stainless steel cable and eye bolts to secure limbs and trunks. The arborist may recommend a fertilization regime to increase the tree’s vigor and stop any decline. Trees are often fertilized using a 3-2-1 ratio liquid fertilizers injected into holes that are drilled in the soil around the tree.

If the tree is not salvageable, then the arborist will recommend removing the unhealthy tree. Often, the tree will be in a location where it cannot be felled easily. Maybe there is a structure under or near the tree or the tree is near the property line. In this case, the arborist may decide to rope the tree. Climbing the tree, the arborist ties ropes to the branches. Then the branches are cut off one by one allowing the rope to break the fall. In essence the tree is removed from the top down. The branches will be lowered down gently to workers on the ground to prevent any unwarranted damage. After removal, the company will chip the tree into mulch with a machine or haul it away. Reputable companies will leave the property only after they have cleaned up the mess and the customer is satisfied.

Trees are assets that add value to one’s property and should be cared for properly. With the help of certified arborists, homeowner’s trees will remain healthy and safe through proper fertility management and pruning. If you have need for a certified arborist, please call the Gwinnett County Extension Service for a list of local companies at (678) 377-4010.

Aphids

Source(s): Jack Arnott


Aphids (plant lice) are small (1/8″), soft-bodied insects that can be many colors with pale yellow or green being the most common. Most are not winged but there may be some winged adults. There are many species of aphids. Some of the aphids, woolly aphids, are covered with white, waxy threads.

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Generally aphids are found in aggregations on tender new growth. They are fairly sedentary and don’t move much unless disturbed. Aphids have needle-like piercing/sucking mouthparts. These are inserted into the plant and sap is withdrawn. They suck in more than they can use. The excess comes out the two cornicles, (which look like tailpipes) on the abdomen and is often called honeydew. Honeydew is a sugary protein substance that may be fed upon by other insects such as ants. Honeydew that isn’t taken by the ants drops to the leaf surface and serves as a medium for the development of fungus such as sooty mold. Sooty mold can coat the leaf and reduce its food making ability.

Aphid females generally reproduce asexually producing more females. The adults live about three weeks and can produce large numbers in a short time. Males usually produced prior to winter then mating occurs and the eggs are laid to overwinter under bark or bud scales. Large numbers of aphids can reduce the plant vigor; however the loss of sap generally does not pose a serious threat to healthy, established plants, trees and shrubs. While feeding, aphids inject saliva into the plant. Some aphids do little damage, while the saliva others causes curled or distorted growth or transmit plant viruses.

CONTROL: Before resorting to chemical methods check for natural controls at work.

Biological: Many natural enemies are usually present in the yard already. There are several species of ladybugs or ladybird beetles which feed on aphids. Their larvae (young) also eat aphids. Other aphid predators include green lacewings and their larvae (called aphid lions), syrphid fly (hover fly) larvae, predacious stink bugs and assasin bugs, and the praying mantis. Some wasps and fungi parasitize aphids and help control their levels.

Mechanical:
 Aphids can be removed by pruning out the affected part of the plant. For a light infestation using a strong spray from the garden hose directed at the aphids can knock them off where they will die if not eaten by predators. If infestation is light, pick them off with your fingers. Maintain good screening on windows to prevent access to houseplants.

Chemical: Some plant species are very sensitive to nitrogen and an outbreak can be triggered by a high nitrogen fertilizer. Use a slow release fertilizer. Options include summer oils, insecticidal soaps, cyfluthrin, imidacloprid or malathion. Spot treat with a pyrethrin based insecticide. These products kill by contact so thorough spray coverage is essential. Read the label carefully before purchase and use. Insure the target pest and plant are on the label. Some insecticides and formulations might burn desirable plants. Indoors use only pesticides that are labeled for control of insects inside. FOLLOW ALL INSTRUCTIONS ON LABEL.


Resource(s): Insect Pests of Ornamental Plants

Center Publication Number: 51