Buggin’ Out this Summer

Buggin’ Out this Summer


Ah, summer.  Time to hit the sand and surf and bask in the sun.   Ha, the insects that like your roses are thinking the same thing!  So what’s a rose gardener to do about it?  There are really two choices: tolerate or eliminate. 
Ask yourself first what is your tolerance level.   If there are only a few wayward Japanese beetles flying around and they aren’treally bothering your roses, then is it a priority to eliminate them?  However, if there are literally dozensswarming the rose garden having themselves a weekend long kegger in your backyard, then you might want to eliminate them. 
Japanese beetles begin as grubs in the soil, feeding mostly on the roots of lawn grass.  When they mature and emerge from the ground as beetles, they feed on our gorgeous roses and a variety of other ornamental plants.  They are also doing their mating at this time, so that weekend kegger has just turned into serious debauchery. 
There is more than one way to tackle this particular pest.  A product called Milky Spore has been identified as a disease of the larval stage, or grub stage, of the beetle.  This bacterium, developed by the USDA, is available in powder form to be used on the lawn while the beetles are grubs.  It can take many, many years of repeated applications in order to decrease the population. 
The more popular way to tackle the beetles is by spraying them when they are adults feeding on your plants in summer.  And while there are a variety of sprays available we recommend Bonide’s Japanese Beetle Killer. 
We already have the beetles on our radar here in our ServiceDepartment at Witherspoon.  The many years of experience dealing with beetles has engrained a mindset of anticipation of their arrival across the state.  We’ll be using different products in our spray tanks that aren’t available to the homeowner, making our visits to our customers’ gardens the most effective possible. 
By the way, we do not recommend the use of the typical “beetle traps”.  They contain pheromones that actually attract more beetles to come hangout in your backyard; and if you’ve already decided that your yard is not a beetle playground, then you don’t want to put those traps out. 
Another troublesome pest of roses in summer is thrips.  They are troublesome because they are so small and they get into the rose bud before the bud even opens up!  This poses an even greater challenge for us as Rose Care Technicians in our customers’ gardens because we simply cannot penetrate the buds with our spray like the thrips can. 
Thrips are in the buds because they are seeking that sweet moisture inside the flowers.  This causes the flowers to become dried out and distorted leaving you without beautiful blooms. 
It can be quite a frustrating experience having thrips in the rose garden.  They’re much like the biting no-see-ums on the irritation scale…you can see (or feel) the damage, but can scarcely see them to stop them.  

However, we use some good products in our tanks against them!  Hopefully with all the wonderful rains we’ve had lately their populations won’t be quite as high as we’ve seen in year’s past.
In our last post from the Service Department we mentioned briefly about spider mites and the use of predatory mites against them.  Spider mites are quite destructive and leave the plants in a stressed and weakened state.  Their life cycles have such a rapid rate of maturity from the time they hatch to the time they are mature to reproduce. 

A female can be mature enough to reproduce in as little as 5 days! 
The image here is quite an extreme case of spider mite damage on a rose.  Our customers and technicians have seen cases as bad as this.  Hot, dry weather is the preferred environment for spider mites.  They stay on the undersides of the leaves, creating webs of protection against predators.

 In Conclusion
Our efforts in reduced insecticide use and the introduction of the predatory mites in our customers’ gardens have shown signs of success!  We hope to continue the use of predatory insects even against other pests such as thrips. 


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