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Plant Health Care: Insect Control

Many harmful insect populations can be managed through a combination of controls and proper care for the overall health of plant material.

In order to treat insect problems correctly, it’s important to understand the specifics of the situation. At Almstead, insect control always starts with a careful identification of the pest as well as other factors that may affect how it is controlled. For instance, poor soil or root conditions can stress plant material and directly increase susceptibility to an infestation. Likewise, some insects and are actually beneficial to plants (by facilitating pollination or preying on harmful species) and should be preserved whenever possible.

 

Some insects are best treated with foliar spot treatments (above), while others are better repelled with other methods such as soil injections or basal treatments.

When it comes to applying insect controls, Almstead utilizes a wide range of products for targeted control. We’re also dedicated to ensuring that the materials we use to treat your property are the safest, most effective controls available in the industry. You can always request a complimentary consultation to discover if there are insect or disease problems on your landscape. If you’ve noticed what looks like an insect problem on your own, the damage that’s been caused is a big help in determining the culprit – even if the pest is nowhere in sight.

 

Nearly all of the controls we use are either recognized as “reduced risk” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or are safe enough that they have been exempted from EPA regulations altogether.

Harmful Insects

 

Insects harmful to plants are typically divided into three categories according to their method of feeding: chewing, sucking and boring.

 

Chewing Insects

Chewing insects come in many shapes and sizes (from beetles to caterpillars). What they have in common is a taste for the leaves, flowers, buds, or twigs of trees and shrubs. Depending on the pest, chewing insect damage may include leaf skeletonizing, leaf mining, leaf notching, and more. Not only is leaf damage and defoliation unattractive, it’s also harmful to overall plant health. Leaves are a primary source of energy for plants, and defoliation can lead to full scale decline if an insect problem is left untreated.

 

Sucking Insects

Sucking insects, like aphids and leafhoppers, have long beak-like mouths that they insert into leaves, twigs, and other supple plant parts to feed on the plant’s juices. Visible symptoms of sucking insects can include wilting or curled leaves, canopy dieback, reduced growth, and the presence of galls on leaves. A number of sucking insects also produce a sticky substance known as honeydew that gathers unattractive and harmful sooty mold.

 

Boring Insects

Boring, or tunneling, insects cause damage by boring into the trunks, stem, roots, or twigs of trees and shrubs. They are particularly dangerous to trees because damage to the trunk is essentially irreparable. The galleries formed by boring insects interfere with a tree’s vascular system, typically cutting off the flow of nutrients to areas above the infestation. Borers are known as secondary invaders, usually only thriving in already stressed trees and shrubs. There are certainly controls available to treat borers, but the key to fighting them off is maintaining overall plant health.

From trunk borers to leaf miners, no part of a tree is safe from insect problems.

(Image - International Society of Arboriculture)

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