Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rip Them Out?

I have seen the little buggers flitting around as I worked through the rhododendrons that tower at the back fence line.  I really have not given them much thought as I asumed they were just harmless white fly, well harmless outside the greenhouse anyway.
lace bug

 Stephanitis pyrioides or azalea lace bug not to be confused with the Lace Wing bug which happens to be a natural predator of the lace bug...ahhhhhg!  My beautiful old rhododendrons, my babies, started from three inch cuttings by this old gardener back in the 70's.  About a month ago I noticed the leaf surface of rhodie Catabiense album showing some white speckels and without closer look just assumed it needed some fertilizer.
The once glossy dark green foliage will never recover its former beauty
Three years previous
The same plant after I pruned out the entire top which had died
Rhododendron Catabiense album

While sitting and having my morning coffee I turned to the last page of the Home and Garden section of the Saturday newspaper to find an entire page devoted to this ugly little pest.  Smack in the middle of the article was a large photo of the damage they can do to a rhododendron or azalea.  It looked as though the photographer had taken the shot right in my garden.  I read the entire article right down to the author's recomendation to dig out any infected plants and re-plant with anything other than a rhododendron.  The thought of digging out these beautiful bones of the garden sickened me.  I got on the computer and delved into the wonderful world of Google and one article said that the nimphs can be disloged by a blast of water to the underside of the leaves.  So as soon as I was in my garden clothes I dragged the hose out and gave each plant a good blast of water.  Chemical treatment was also mentioned but this had the adverse effect of killing benefitial insects as well.
I fear the once graceful giant in the photo's above is not long for this world, my biggest fear is that the same fate will meet the rest of these.
Fatuosum Flora Pleno

Christmas Cheer

Rhododendron Vulcan showing signs of its slow death


  1. Sounds like you need an agricultural flying sprayer. He could do the whole garden at the same time. I'm no flower gardener, but I'm a very keen veg' grower, and all the various veg'-eating bugs really get on my nerves. The only prevention I take is to spread 'Nature Friendly' Slug pellets; without which I'd have NOTHING. I sympathise.

  2. I have just removed two large viburnum plants because of greenhouse thrips. Had them cut back last year but they were even worse this year so they have been removed. Good luck with the Rhodos.

  3. How awful to have to come to terms with the pest. Good luck.

  4. Really sorry to hear about this, Doc.
    But I am thinking this might be what is wrong with our Azalea.
    I took a branch in to a feed and seed store, but I am thinking I may need to contact the local Ag office instead.
    I've tried a couple things, but the feed store told it was something else, so nothing has helped yet.

  5. Doc, you might check out this link.
    They have several articles, some in audio, for dealing with lace bugs.
    Hope you can save your flowers, Doc!

  6. Lace bugs sound rather sweet
    What's a junebug by the way