Gardening & Living in Grand Style
Insect pests here and soon to come…
by Michael Johnson
Utah State University Extension Agent, Grand County
May 03, 2018 | 987 views | 0 0 comments | 76 76 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Temperatures are hitting the 70s and soon the 80s, leading to amazing changes with our plants — so it must be growing season. While it’s cool seeing our plants change as they grow there is that little issue of problematic insect pests that comes with it. Certainly all insects aren’t bad but many do cause damage and can be quite the nuisance.

One of our favorite newer insect pests is the elm seed bug. It arrived in town back around 2014 or so and didn’t take long to make itself known. This isn’t a problem for plants but rather a problem insect for humans due to its inquisitive desire to be in and around our homes and businesses. It’s a tiny thing being one-quarter to one-third inch long, blackish in color with a reddish colored abdomen. Being that it is an elm seedeater you would think this was a great insect. I might even think that if I haven’t seen thousands crawling on the walls of buildings and personally vacuumed up hundreds that find their way into our offices.

Control of these pests starts with sealing up cracks on the outside of the building, weather stripping around doors, and having really good screens over the windows since it’s tiny and seems to have magical properties allowing it to slide through the smallest of openings. Limiting the number of problem elms around your buildings and cleaning up the elms seeds can also help. While appropriately labeled and applied insecticides might reduce their numbers, they aren’t a very good solution due to the mobile nature of the bugs. One should consider periodically spraying with a soapy water solution when numbers are high.

An old-time regular pest seen a lot this time of year is the aphid. They love the newly opening leaves of almost all fruit trees and many perennials. Yes, they can cause the leaves to curl and distort and since they excrete a liquid called honeydew they can make plant leaves sticky. Don’t panic though, since while they can make the plant leaves look funny they aren’t going to kill the plant. As such, take a calm reasoned approach and spray them with a moderately forceful stream of water but if you’re knocking leaves off perhaps it’s too strong.

If they are plentiful, you can spray them with a soapy solution of an insecticidal soap or non-colored non-scented dish soap. You don’t want to see your plants all sudsy so make your solution just soapy enough that you know you are getting some on the aphids. Since soap solutions are contact controls, meaning you have to get it on the insect to control it, they work best on the softer-bodied insects.

An insect shortly to arrive is the tent caterpillar that builds web-like nests around branches of trees such as cottonwoods and poplars but can be seen in fruit trees and other types of trees and shrubs. The best control is not to prune out the limbs with the webbing because it makes your tree look pretty sad if you do it a lot, but rather pull the nest/webbing out of the tree. If caught early enough you might be able to tear the web up with a strong stream of water. Doing this a couple to few times will disrupt the cycle and limit any damage. If you don’t catch it in time you can spray your leaves with some natural controls such as Bacillus thuringiensis or Spinosad. Again, while this caterpillar pest does eat the leaves of these trees it usually does no long-term damage so don’t stress out too much.

Previous articles can be found on The Times Independent website. If you have a topic you would like to know more about call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 435-259-7558 or email Mike at

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.