Azalea leaf gall, caused by the fungus Exobasidium vaccinii, are common on azalea in the spring during wet, humid, cooler weather.
The fungus invades expanding leaf and flower buds causing these tissues to swell and become fleshy, bladder-like galls. Initially, the galls are pale green to pinkish. Eventually, they become covered with a whitish mold-like growth. Fungal spores are produced within the white growth and are spread by water-splashing or wind to other expanding leaf or flower buds, or they adhere to newly formed buds, over-winter, and infect these buds the following spring. Older leaves and flowers are immune to infection. As the galls age, they turn brown and hard.
The disease does not cause significant damage to affected plants. It just looks unsightly.
Azalea leaf gall can be prevented in subsequent years by removing the galls by hand as soon as they are detected and destroying them before they turn white and release spores. Fungicides are generally not needed or recommended for control of this disease.
Michael Mengak, Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources
I have recently received several calls about armadillo problems.
There are no repellents or poisons registered for armadillo.
Armadillo are not protected in Georgia – it is legal to hunt or shoot at any time UNLESS it is illegal in your city or county or prohibited by local ordinance. This is generally not a viable option in urban areas. You are responsible for following all local laws and ordinances.
For trapping, use a wood box trap. Traps that have previously caught an armadillo are more likely to catch another one. However, there is no bait or lure that will work on getting an armadillo into a trap.
The double door trap works better for armadillo (one that has an open door on each end) so the animal can more easily “wander” into the trap from either direction.
In a study at Mississippi State in 2009, they reported that 23 armadillos were caught in wooden box traps and only 3 were caught in standard wire cage traps. Here is a link to that study.
The first sign of ground or digger bees in lawns may be strange little mounds of soil with a hole nearby. The ground bees will be flying over this area. Ground bees are solitary bees that dig and nest in the ground. These bees live one per hole but there may be many holes in an area creating ground bee communities. There are many types of ground bees that vary in color and range from one-half to three-quarter inch in length. Some types of solitary wasps live like this as well.
Female ground bees dig nests in the ground up to six or so inches deep in which to raise young. The bees pile earth around the sides of the hole. These bees can be very active in March and April. The female ground bee stocks the nest with pollen and nectar to feed the young bees. Some solitary wasps stock their nests with insects.
Ground bees typically cause little problem. The digging should not be enough to damage the lawn. The bees are not very aggressive and probably will not sting. You should be able to work and mow grass around them with few problems. People that are allergic to bee stings may want to be cautious when working around the bees.
We do not recommend chemical controls for ground bees or wasps. These bees can be beneficial – serving to pollinate plants or destroy harmful insects. They will probably only be around for four to six weeks and then disappear until next year.
If you must control them, use cultural controls.
Ground bees like dry soils. Water the soil when bees first become active. Apply one inch of water once a week if it does not rain.
Ground bees nest in dry areas where the grass is thin. Find and correct the problems making the turf thin. This may involve soil sampling, irrigation, soil aeration or other practices.
Find ways to thicken the turf in these areas to reduce ground bee problems. Know the needs of the turf grass and meet them!
In areas that will not grow grass, mulch the area.
If you must use a pesticide, watch during the day to see where the holes are located. After dark, dust these areas with carbaryl (sold under the name Sevin and other names) dust. A dust insecticide should cling to the bee’s body better than a spray. Keep people and pets out of the area while it is being treated.
The bees are not generally harmful and pesticides are toxic. The cure may be worse than the problem. Try to put up with the bees if you can. These bees may be difficult to control and may return year to year. If you have ongoing problems with them, follow all recommendations very carefully. See this site where I found much of this information http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/lawn/note100/note100.html
There is one large caution in connection with ground bees and wasps. Ground bees are not aggressive but can look like other bees and wasps that are very aggressive and harmful. Make absolutely certain that you are not dealing with a yellow jacket or bumble bee nest. Both of these insects can literally cover you with stings very quickly. They can also have extremely large nests in Georgia. If you ever get into trouble with these, run until you escape them. Running inside may help. Do not stop to swat, roll on the ground, etc.
One difference between ground bees and other bees or wasps is that ground bees live by themselves and make many holes in the ground. Yellow jackets and bumble bees have many insects per hole. Use the following from Dr. Will Hudson, UGA Entomologist, as a guide for identification.
Many holes with one 1 bee per hole = solitary bees (like ground bees) that sting only as a last resort.
One hole, many bees = social bees (like yellow jackets and bumble bees). Keep away! These are non-reproductive workers that will sacrifice themselves in defense of the nest.
For insects other than ground bees, you may want to hire a pest control company or a wildlife removal company. They should have the training and equipment to do the job properly.
Please share this information with others in the landscape industry. For more information:
A University of Georgia entomologist is asking Georgians to help track an insect that loves to stowaway in homes and has the potential to hurt the state’s crops.
The brown marmorated stink bug, a native of Asia, was first spotted in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1998 and has since been found in 42 states and two Canadian provinces, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To date, it is classified as a nuisance pest in Georgia, but could quickly become an agricultural pest, too.
Paul Guillebeau, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, decided to find out how many Georgians are unwillingly hosting the pest.He thought of the project after lying in bed at night and counting the number of stink bugs crawling on his Athens, Georgia, ceiling. “On any given day, there are at least five or six on the ceiling and at least 20 throughout the rest of the house,” he said. “You could spray them, but then you’d have dead stink bugs to deal with. It really becomes tedious. They only stink if you handle them, and they don’t do any damage, but they are annoying.”
Guillebeau likens the pest to lady beetles and kudzu bugs, which also torment homeowners by slipping through the tiniest crack to find a warm spot indoors. The stink bugs are first attracted to light and then to the warmer, indoor temperatures.
“I think my house is fairly well sealed, but they are awfully good at getting inside,” he said.
As temperatures begin to rise, the bugs are coming out of their winter slumber and searching for food and water. “Now they are flying to the windows, searching for a way to get out,” he said.
Once the brown marmorated stink bugs return to the outdoors, UGA entomologist Kris Braman hopes home gardeners will take a close, identifying look before killing them.
“The brown marmorated stink bug damages a host of plants, from ornamentals to trees to food crops,” she said. “But there are many other look-alike stink bugs and some of these are predators (that feed on harmful garden pests).”
Brown marmorated stink bugs have striped antennae, smooth shoulders and small mouthparts. Beneficial, predator stink bugs have solid antennae, spines or indentations on their shoulders and a “much stouter” mouth.
“You may need a hand lens to get a close look, but it will be worth it because they eat harmful garden insects like the Mexican bean beetle,” Braman said.
To participated in Guillebeau’s tracking survey, go to www.surveymonkey.com/s/FCLPJLX. The three-question survey will remain open until responses begin to dwindle and the state has been represented.
“I think they are everywhere across the state, but we will just have to wait and see,” Guillebeau said. “I just hope of one of my colleagues develops a trap to catch them before they come in my house next year.”
Jean Williams-Woodward, Extension Plant Pathologist
Freeze injury symptoms can include blackening or bleaching of foliage, tip dieback, stem or branch splitting, and plant death. The damage may not be readily apparent, especially on trees. Trunk damage and splitting may develop months to years later.
Often weak pathogens invade the damaged tissues resulting in trunk and branch cankers (usually from Botryosphaeria spp. infection) and secondary infection by weak pathogens, such as Colletotrichum spp. and Pestalotiopsis spp.
The best approach to deal with freeze injured tissues is to prune off the affected tissues. Prune dead branch tips after bud break. Give plants, such as liriope, a shearing to remove dead foliage.
Freeze injury symptoms of bleached, necrotic foliage and split bark (seen at arrows) on boxwood (left), cast-iron plant (upper right) and holly (bottom right). (Images of holly and cast-iron plant by Jean Williams-Woodward; Image of boxwood by Greg Bowman, Gordon County Extension Coordinator)
The Urban Pest Management Program on the UGA Griffin campus has established a 10-week lecture series resulting in the awarding of a Certificate in Urban and Structural Pest Management. The goal of the program is to provide Georgia’s pest management companies new service technicians exposed to various aspects of the industry, and to award current pest management professionals a University of Georgia-sponsored credential. Georgia Department of Agriculture-approved credit (Certificate Program) will be granted to currently registered and certified employees.
What is Urban and Structural Pest Management?
Urban and structural pest management is the protection of our property, food, and health from insect and rodent pests commonly found in homes, restaurants, and other businesses. The service technician is the front line of this defense, and thus the backbone of the pest management industry.
Who is this Certificate For?
This Certificate is appropriate for:
individuals with no experience in the pest management industry, but who are looking to enter a stable and exciting field;
individuals who, even though they might have extensive pest management experience, would like to energize their career by acquiring a professional credential, and;
owners and managers of pest management companies looking to improve the skills of current and future employees.
The Certificate’s Lecture Series
Classes are held once per week, in the evening, on the UGA Griffin Campus. The Certificate’s curriculum is designed to expose students to various aspects of the pest management industry, including sales, customer service, and legal affairs. More than half of the Certificate’s 10 lectures are about the identification, biology, and management of the most common urban insect pests found in Georgia.
A Unique Training Opportunity
Because a laboratory session is part of each technical lecture, the Certificate provides a unique training opportunity even for the most experienced technician. Over the course of the Certificate’s various laboratory sessions, students are shown specimens of the 100 or so most common insect pests most likely to be encountered in and around Georgia’s urban environment.
The Certificate fee is $195. Individual lectures can be taken for $20 each. Military veterans with a valid DD Form 214 attend free of charge.
To register for an upcoming Certificate Lecture Series, print the registration (PDF), fill it out, and return the bottom section with your payment to the address listed on the form. Faxed registrations are also accepted at 770-228-7287.
Fire ants remain the most prevalent outdoor ant pest in most areas of the southern U.S. Throughout the U.S. we estimate the annual cost of fire ant control at over $6 billion. But the cost of this pest goes far beyond measurable dollars. Fire ants reduce the recreational value of our parks and backyards, disrupt wildlife populations, and send thousands to emergency rooms each year from their painful stings.
So as we get ready to enter fire ant season, it may be a good time to bring yourself and your staff up to speed on fire ant control. Many people are surprised to learn that fire ants are not an especially difficult pest to manage, once the biology and control tools are understood.
One of the best places to learn about fire ant management is the eXtension fire ant website, a place where the best information about fire ant is assembled by Extension agencies throughout the South. This information was recently summarized and presented in an informative webinar by Dr. Fudd Graham, fire ant specialist with Auburn University. Dr. Graham focuses on fire ant biology and use of baits for fire ant control.
It’s worth knowing something about how fire ant baits work because they are the most economical, ecologically friendly, and effective control methods for fire ants. The webinar will provide you or your technician with an hour of training that should pay for itself many times over.
Mike Merchant is an entomology specialist for Texas AgriLife Extension. He works with pest management professionals, school facilities managers, extension volunteers, researchers and other extension professionals. His areas of specialty center on research on insects affecting man including spiders, scorpions, fire ants, termites and others. His program also focuses on training school maintenance professionals in principles of integrated pest management (IPM). His goal is to make schools healthier, cleaner places to study and live.
The European hornet, Vespa crabro, was accidentally introduced into North America about the middle of the 19th century. It is a large eusocial wasp with the wings reddish orange and the petiolate abdomen brown and yellow striped. There are no native hornets in the U.S.
Habits: European hornets build large, above-ground nests, usually in trees. Similar to yellow jackets and paper wasps, European hornets build a new nest each year. Each Fall all hornets die, with the exception of several queens, which overwinter. The following Spring these overwintered, mated queens initiate the construction of a new nest. European hornets are attracted to lights at night. They are not attracted to human foods and food wastes, as are yellow jackets, but they can damage fruits, such as apples, while the fruit is still on the tree.
Interventions: If European hornets are found around the house at night, because these wasps will forage after dark and are attracted to lights, examine and change the lighting regime. Do not attempt to remove or treat a nest; call a pest management professional to remove nests near areas of human habitation or activity. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at caes.uga.edu/publications.
Might Be Confused With: cicada killers, yellow jackets.
Mud Daubers (Sphecidae and Crabronidae: many species)
Long, slender, solitary wasps 1 to 1.5 inches, with long, slender waists. Commonly glossy black or blue, some species with yellow highlights.
Habits: Builds series of four- to six-inch long vertical mud tubes on walls in areas protected from rain and adverse weather. Commonly found under eaves, decks, etc. Each tube comprised of individual cells housing a single larva and spider prey that wasp larvae feed on.
Interventions: Knock down dry mud nests with a broom and wash mud from wall with soap and water. For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.
Might Be Confused With: paper wasps, potter wasps.
Paper wasps (Vespidae: Polistes spp.)
Large (1 inch), aggressive wasps when at their nest. Various species, but all build paper-like, multi-celled, inverted umbrella nests under rain- and wind-protected eaves where wasps can enter and exit easily.
Habits: Each Fall all wasps die, with the exception of several queens, which overwinter in an inactive form in a well-protected, secluded environment such as under and in fallen logs and other ground debris. The following Spring, queens initiate and build a small paper nest where they lay eggs. Paper wasps build a new nest each year. Colonies grow and reach peak size in the Fall, at which time the cycle repeats. Like other social bees and wasps, paper wasps are aggressive when protecting their nest, and may inflict a painful sting in its defense. Adult wasps are excellent predators in vegetable gardens, and are more docile when not protecting their nest.
Interventions: If nests are out of the way, leave wasps alone as they are highly beneficial predators. If desired, spray nest and wasps directly with an aerosol jet spray, or early in the year, before the nest contains too many adult wasps consider knocking down the nest with a long stick but be prepared – and able – to quickly flee the area as the nest is dislodged. Make certain no one in the area is allergic to wasp venom (stings). For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #782, Stinging and Biting Pests, at www.caes.uga.edu/publications.
Might Be Confused With: mud daubers.
Potter wasps (Vespidae, but sometimes recognized as Eumenidae: many species)
Also referred to as mason wasps. Common species dark blue or black with yellow or white highlights on abdomen and/or thorax. Solitary. Common species 3/4 to 1inch. Strongly sclerotized.
Habits: This wasp builds characteristic, oval-shaped (1/2 to 5/8 inch diameter) nests that appear pot-like with a knob-like handle. Pots are ornate and constructed of mud, as if built by a mason.
Interventions: Knock down ‘mud pot’ nests with a broom and wash mud from wall with soap and water.
Ask most PMPs who specialize in structural pest control what they know about scale insects, and you’ll get a blank stare. Pest management techs are typically taught little about insect pests of plants, especially tiny, non-descript pests that are frequently well-camouflaged from all but the most highly trained observers.
This is a mistake. A well-trained commercial or residential pest control PMP needs to know about plant pests, especially scales and their cousins the aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs. The key reason is that scales are part of the ecosystem surrounding the home or business, and can play an important role in insect life coming indoors…especially when it comes to ants.
You know ants. Only one of the most important pest issues for the industry around the world. The vast majority of indoor pest ants are sugar-loving. But these ants don’t get their sweet tooth from sheer gluttony (like us!); ants have evolved with a heavy reliance on sugary foods in the form of honeydew.
Honeydew is the sweet excretion product of many plant feeding insects, including scales, aphids, mealybugs, whiteflies and others. Most of us have experienced honeydew when parking a vehicle under a tree during the summer months. Those sticky drops all over the windshield were honeydew, or less delicately, insect poop.
Much like our obsession with sugar, ants have an interesting relationship with honeydew producing insects. It turns out that ants have been relying on the scale insects for so long that both scale and ant have become co-dependent. The ant gets a free, long-term, stationary food source. The scales benefit from the ants keeping down excess honeydew and mold on the old leaf, and even get protection from predators like lady beetles and parasitic wasps.
Ants that naturally feed on honeydew include carpenter ants, crazy ants, odorous house ant, Argentine ants, acrobat ants, rover ants and fire ants…and probably several others I’m forgetting at the moment. If you’re battling any of these critters on a regular basis, you might need to know something about why ants are attracted to your accounts in the first place. In many cases it probably has something to do with the presence of scale insects around the building perimeter.
Sticky, shiny leaves are one tip-off that scale-like insects may be feeding on your customers’ plants. Also look for waxy crusts often associated with aphids, scales and mealybugs. Honeydew also serves to grow a black mold called “black sooty mold”, another unsightly clue to a problem.
A few years ago when industry giant (at the time) American Cyanamid was searching for an improved bait for carpenter ant control they turned to experts in insect honeydew for insight. Researchers found that mimicking some of the natural constituents of insect honeydew in an artificial bait was a good strategy for designing a more effective bait.
I’m not suggesting that all ants are attracted to your accounts just because of sugar-pooping pests, but I guarantee you that, when present, these insects will contribute to an ant problem. So what can be done? First of all, learn the signs of honeydew producing insects, and how to select some of the excellent control products on the market.
There’s a lot to learn about scale insects–more than I can cover here; but if you’re interested in learning a little more, check out this link to a PowerPoint presentation I gave on the subject. The topic is scale insects and their control. I hope the pictures and notes will give you an interesting introduction to the subject and a taste to learn more. Speaking of taste, I think I hear a KitKat bar calling my name.
According to Science Daily, new research shows that imidacloprid, an insecticide often blamed for the decline of commercially managed honey bees, is not likely to harm honey bees at field realistic levels. The three year study, conducted by Galen Dively and associates at the University of Maryland, supports the contention by many U.S. bee researchers that proper applications of this insecticide is not likely to be the sole, or major, explanation for colony collapse disorder (CCD).
Despite those who claim CCD is clearly the result of dangerous insecticides, the issues surrounding CCD are complex and technical. Much of the debate in the research community recently has centered on what constitutes “field realistic levels” of imidacloprid and its cousin insecticides, the neonicotinoids. Industry representatives have contended that recent critical studies, cited by environmentalists as justifying a ban neonicotinoids, were flawed because they were based on unrealistically high levels of the insecticides. Dively and colleagues tried to allay these concerns by feeding their bees imidacloprid in protein supplement patties at doses of 5, 20, and 100 micrograms per kilogram (parts per billion). The lowest dose, 5 parts per billion, is generally recognized as field realistic based on several studies of pesticide concentrations in the nectar and pollen of treated crops. The insecticide-laced protein supplement was provided to the bees over a continuous 12 week period. Even so this was, the authors contend, a higher exposure scenario than would likely occur in agricultural settings, where the contaminated pollen and nectar is not likely to be present continuously.
As one of the first studies to look at honey bee colony health over multiple seasons, the results were more rigorous than previous research. They did showed a significant negative effect on colony survivorship as dosage increased; however the lowest, field-realistic dose showed no significant impact on key bee health indicators, foraging or winter survivorship. The major impact of higher imidacloprid exposure were increased broodless periods, caused by weak queens during late summer. Such effects could lead to lowered overwintering survival, a character of CCD.
Nevertheless, the authors conclude that while short term exposure to high imidacloprid levels (represented by 100 part per billion dosages in this study) in agricultural settings does occur, it is not likely to occur continuously throughout a crop cycle. Also, data from the study showed that bees were efficient in metabolizing imidacloprid, so that short term spikes in insecticide levels in nectar were likely to be quickly diluted and eliminated by the bees. They concluded that while imidacloprid might be a contributing factor to some overwintering losses in bees, seed treated crops in particular were likely to have negligible effects on honey bee colony health.
In the ongoing debate over bee health, this is one piece of good news for pesticide manufacturers and users; but it will not be the final word. And it should not justify anything less than the utmost caution for pesticide applicators when they use neonicotinoid insecticides.