While some outdoor insects are commonly found throughout the nation, unique environmental conditions can limit their overall geographic distribution. With its dry heat and little moisture, Arizona is home to an insect population all its own, though no less damaging to the trees, shrubs and plants that thrive in this climate.
It’s important to always inspect your trees, shrubs and plants for any infestations that might develop as the growing season progresses. Make it part of your weekly routine and take notice of any flying insects or fluctuations in leaf appearance as these are signs of a possible problem.
If an infestation is in fact identified, don’t waste any time to call in a professional. SavATree’s licensed and certified technicians understand the value of your property and will make the proper recommendations to provide effective treatment while protecting you and your family.
Below are some common insects plaguing Arizona residents. Not sure if your trees, shrubs and plants are being invaded? Schedule an on-site consultation with a SavATree technician today.
A popular tree in the low deserts of Arizona is the Cascalote, a native tree in Mexico. This medium-sized tree can grow to a height and spread of 20 feet and produces brilliant yellow flowers during the cooler months of the fall and winter. It truly thrives in the hot summer months, is fairly maintenance free with regular watering, but Cascalotes can be prone to attacks by tiny insects called Psyllids.
Psyllids, whose behavior closely mirrors both aphids and whiteflies, causes damage in the late spring. These small nymphs (not yet adults) suck the sap from plant tissues and then excrete a sugary substance known as honeydew. The salivary toxins they leave behind can inhibit or even kill new shoots, curling and twisting new leaves when they form. This stress can seriously stunt the growth of trees younger than five years of age that are not tolerant of such invasions.
Regular inspection of your Cascalote tree is imperative to preventing the spread of Psyllids. Treatment options are available and successful and should be done yearly as a preventative measure agains
t future infestations.
The Genista Caterpillar is the larva of a Genista Broom Moth. It’s considered a tenting caterpillar as it uses silk to spin what appears to be a “tent-like” form on the trees, plants and shrubs on which it feeds. These tents serve as shelter and protection from predators. In large numbers, caterpillars can completely defoliate a specimen, causing the plant to become stressed and even incur permanent damage. In smaller numbers, plant health is less affected though their feeding can slow down the growing process in any given season. They typically feed during the day in plain sight, which makes identifying a possible infestation easy for the untrained eye.
Another host to Genista Caterpillars is the Texas Mountain Laurel. A poisonous chemical in its leaves helps protect the plant against insect invasions. However, the Genista Caterpillar is immune to this chemical and uses it to its own advantage, storing the toxin in its body as a defense against natural enemies and even other caterpillars.
For severe infestations of caterpillars, treatment options are recommended to limit the damage and plant stress.
Agaves are a beautiful ornamental plant often used in xeriscaping in warm, dry climates such as Arizona. But their beauty is not just admired by human onlookers but also by a small predator known as the Agave Snout Weevil.
Feeding on many species of agave, and especially damaging to larger varieties, the weevils are actually small brownish-black beetles with a protruding snout. Damage from the weevil larvae (or grubs) is often severe as they feed on the tender core of the plant after emerging in the spring. This significant damage makes the plant susceptible to decay microbes which enter the plant’s cell structure and cause it to die from the base upward. The insects then pupate and infect other agaves nearby.
Detection is difficult as it’s often impossible to determine where the female has laid her eggs and how much of the plant may be infested. Preventative treatments applied to the soil at the base of healthy agave plants are recommended in March and May to disrupt the insect’s life cycle.
Arriving in the United States around the year 2007 in Florida, the Ficus (or Fig) Whitefly is an exotic and invasive pest.
In the early winter, look for signs of eggs and nymphs on the tree. Adults may be seen flying around the leaves and branches, but they often have a short life-span and aren’t always noticed by humans. The larvae inflict the most damage to the ficus tree. Yellowing, wilting, distorting and stunting of the leaves, in addition to leaf drop, are often tell-tale signs that a large infestation is present. Once these symptoms occur, treatment options are recommended including foliar applications or soil drench applications at the base of affected trees. Preventative treatments are also recommended in spring prior to warm temperatures when most heavy infestations occur.
Plant Problem Resources https://www.azlca.com/uploads/documents/04-plant-problems-resources-page.pdf
Pests of Plants https://www.azlca.com/uploads/documents/pests-of-plants.pdf
Desert beetles https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_beetles.php
Pests of landscape plants http://ag.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/mg/entomology/sap.html
Pests in gardens and landscapes http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html
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