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Sap Sucking Vampires

The new growth on my plants looks stunted and dried up. What is going on with my Birch tree, the leaves are all bubbly?

One of the earliest insects to emerge in spring is the aphid. Aphids are small, soft-bodied, tear-drop shaped and range in color. Aphids move slowly, congregating on new succulent growing tips and leaf undersides. They love to suck plant sap. This will cause leaves to curl and/or discolor with white or yellow stippling. Aphids are easy to control. Since they cause minimal damage, you can often just wait for lady bugs and other predators to move in and eat them up. If you need to spray, horticultural soaps work well and are safe for you and your pets. When the soap will not reach the aphids, like on a birch leaf, a systemic pesticide can be used.

Body Snatching Mummies

Are those cones on my evergreen?

Bagworms can look like small cones but they are actually the larval or caterpillar stages of moths. After hatching they immediately spin a cocoon-like bag. Attached to the cocoon are pieces of leaves from the plant they are feeding upon…. and boy do they feed. If unnoticed they can defoliate a large portion of your plant, making it unsightly and in some cases causing death of the plant. A simple method of control is to pick off the bags during the winter and destroy them. This must be done before the eggs hatch in May. When too many plants are involved, or the bags are unreachable sprays should be used. We recommend using any product containing BT. BT is a spray used specifically for caterpillars so it should have minimum impact on the natural balance of your yard, but it is only effective on small caterpillars from mid-June to mid-July.