Of course, the hot weather will really get our warm-season vegetables and other plants growing. Also, thanks to our trees, hot weather is so much more manageable, and while trees do use water, if placed properly, they provide us with cooling shade and really help cut back on energy costs in our homes.
As expected, we are seeing a host of insects including the beneficial and just plain enjoyable ones such as the multitude of butterflies that are flitting around my and others' gardens each evening. Then there are the mysterious ones that are skeletonizing the leaves of my small tomato plants. I will let you know once I figure out what’s doing it.
Lately I have been receiving calls on a variety of insects, including the incredible explosion of elm seed bugs. (I wrote about these back in September 2016 so check The Times-Independent website for that column.) The numbers of these insects around our office, at some local businesses and elsewhere are incredible. Adults are pretty hard to kill using pesticides so I would just hose them down with soapy water or strong streams of water.
I recently had a call about black bugs on pinions, which turned out to be the black pinyon aphid. As with any aphid it can, over time, weaken a plant if the numbers are high, and with this aphid there are always a lot of them. Luckily, the owner sprayed them with some soapy water, which is an excellent aphid control.
Another insect getting attention is root weevils. These are most often seen on lilacs but can be found on many other plants. The adults, which only come out at night, make a distinctive notching of leaf edges and the larva feed on roots in the soil, weakening plants. Controls include a neem oil drench around the base of the plant for the larva, and spinosad sprayed on the leaves for the adults.
I was recently asked how to control leafhoppers on grapes. Most often this is asked when someone calls saying they see white flies on their grape plants but it’s actually leafhoppers. When your grape or Virginia creeper leaves become spotted, or as we say, stippled, you know you have leafhoppers. The adults are hard to control so you want to start early and control the young nymphs. While it probably would have been best to start before now, you can begin today spraying the plants, front and back of the leaves, with soapy water. However, it’s possible the soaps could leave spots on the grapes themselves so you might want to try a small section before spraying the whole plant. If you procrastinate you can try organic controls such as pyrethrin or azadirachtin, which will control older nymphs but might not have much effect on the adults.
With all insects you want to determine if they are good or bad and if they are bad are they really causing enough of a problem do try some control. Always start with simple controls such as strong streams of water or soapy sprays. These admittedly work best on soft-bodied insects but can help control others to some degree. For the sake of our bees and other beneficial insects don’t spray blooming plants with insecticides and don’t spray any pesticide on a breezy day to limit spray drift onto other plants.
For now enjoy the summer, expect to see more insects and good luck in all your endeavors.
Thought for the day: “I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire... mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?” —Vera Nazarian.
Previous articles are available at The Times-Independent website, www.moabtimes.com. Have an idea you’d like Mike to consider writing about? Want more information about these topics? Call the Utah State University Extension Grand County office at 435-259-7558 or email Mike Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.