Kansas State University


Extension Entomology

Category: Horticulture

Japanese Beetles Are Back!

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Japanese beetle adults are out in full-force in certain regions of Kansas feeding on different plant species, but especially roses (Rosa spp.). The means of dealing with the adult stage of Japanese beetle are limited, and have been for many years, with the use of insecticides still being the primary plant protection strategy. Japanese beetle, Popillia japonica is native to Japan and was first reported in the United States in 1916 in the state of New Jersey. Currently, Japanese beetles are established from Maine to Georgia and in nearly every state east of the Mississippi River and several mid-western states.

Figure 1. Japanese beetle adult (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Japanese beetles are established in eastern and central portions of Kansas, and are slowly moving westward. Japanese beetle adults are one of the most destructive insect pests of horticultural plants in both landscapes and gardens. The larvae or grub is a major turfgrass insect pest in home lawns, commercial settings, and golf courses.

Japanese beetle adults are 9/16 of an inch in length and metallic green with coppery-brown wing covers (Figure 1). There are about 14 tufts of white hair present along the end of the abdomen (Figure 2). Adult Japanese beetles emerge from the soil and live from 30 to 45 days feeding on plants over a four-to-six-week period.

Figure 2. Japanese beetle adult. Note tufts of white hair on the end of the abdomen (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Adults feed on many ornamental plants including: trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous annual and perennials, and of course—roses. Plant placement in the landscape and volatiles emitted by plants are factors that can influence adult acceptance. Moreover, Japanese beetle adults produce aggregation pheromones that attract individuals (both males and females) to the same feeding location. Adults can fly up to five miles to locate a feeding site; however, they tend to fly only short distances to feed and lay eggs.

Japanese beetle adults feed through the upper leaf surface (epidermis) and leaf center (mesophyll), leaving the lower epidermis intact. Adults usually avoid feeding on tissue between leaf veins, resulting in leaves appearing lace-like or skeletonized (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Lace-like or skeletonized damage to leaf caused by Japanese beetle adult feeding (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

They are most active during warm days, feeding on plants exposed to full sun throughout the day, which is likely why roses are a susceptible host plant because roses require at least six hours of direct sunlight in order to flower. Japanese beetle adults start feeding at the top of plants, migrating downward after depleting food sources. Japanese beetle adults aggregate in masses on rose flowers (Figure 4). Although adult beetles feed mainly on flowers, they will also feed on leaves (Figure 5). Adults chew holes in flower buds;

Figure 4. Japanese beetle adults aggregating on rose flower (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)



Figure 5. Japanese beetle adults feeding on linden (Tilia spp.) leaf (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

preventing flowers from opening or causing petals to fall prematurely. Furthermore, adults will consume entire rose petals, and feed on the pollen of fully-opened flowers.

Japanese beetle adult management involves implementing a variety of plant protection strategies, including: cultural, physical, and insecticidal. Cultural is associated with maintaining healthy roses through proper irrigation, fertility, mulching, and pruning, which are important in minimizing “stress, which may possibly decrease susceptibility. In addition, removing weeds such as smartweed (Polygonum spp.) that are attractive to Japanese beetle adults may alleviate infestations. Physical involves hand-picking or collecting Japanese beetle adults from roses before populations are extensive. The best time to hand-pick or collect adults is in the morning when ambient air temperatures are typically “cooler.” Adults can be easily collected by placing a wide-mouthed jar or bucket containing rubbing alcohol (70% isopropyl alcohol) or soapy water underneath each adult, and then touching them. Adults that are disturbed fold their legs perpendicular to the body, and fall into the liquid and are subsequently killed. This procedure, when conducted daily or every-other-day, particularly after adults emerge, may substantially reduce plant damage. The use of Japanese beetle traps (Figure 6)

Figure 6. Japanese beetle trap (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)


is not recommended since the floral lure and synthetically-derived sex pheromone (Figure 7) may attract more adults into an area than would “normally” occur. Japanese beetle adults may also feed on roses before reaching the traps, which increases potential damage.

Figure 7. Floral lure (on left) and sex pheromone (on right) associated with Japanese beetle trap (Author-Raymond Cloyd, KSU) (PICTURE NOT SHOWN)


Spray applications of contact insecticides will kill Japanese beetle adults. However, repeat applications will be required; especially when populations are excessive. In addition, thorough coverage of all plant parts will increase effectiveness of the application. The insecticide carbaryl (Sevin®) and several pyrethroid-based insecticides including those containing bifenthrin or cyfluthrin as the active ingredient can be used to suppress Japanese beetle adult populations. However, most of these insecticides also directly harm many natural enemies (parasitoids and predators) so their continual use may lead to secondary pest outbreaks of other pests including the twospotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae). Furthermore, these insecticides are directly harmful to honey bees and bumble bees. Therefore, applications should be conducted in the early morning or late evening when bees are less active. In general, systemic insecticides, are not effective because Japanese beetle adults have to feed on leaves and consume lethal concentrations of the active ingredient. If extensive populations are present, then damage to plants may still occur.

The battle against Japanese beetle adults requires patience, persistence, and diligence in order to prevent adults from causing substantial damage to roses and other susceptible plants.


Bagworms are Here!

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Bagworms are Here!

Now is the time to start taking action against that “infamous” insect pest known as the bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). Throughout Kansas, bagworm eggs have hatched and the young caterpillars are feeding on both broadleaf and evergreen trees and shrubs. Bagworms are primarily a pest of conifers but have expanded their host range to include a number of broadleaf plants, including: rose, honeylocust, and flowering plum. Hand-picking small caterpillars (along with their accompanying bag) and placing them into a container of soapy water will kill them directly. This practice, if feasible, will quickly remove populations before they can cause substantial plant damage.

For those not interested in hand-picking, a number of insecticides are labeled for use against bagworms including those with the following active ingredients (trade name in parentheses): acephate (Orthene), Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Dipel/Thuricide), cyfluthrin (Tempo), lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar), trichlorfon (Dylox), indoxacarb (Provaunt), chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn), and spinosad (Conserve). Many of these active ingredients are commercially available and sold under different trade names or as generic products. However, several insecticides may not be directly available to homeowners. The key to managing bagworms with insecticides is to apply early and frequently enough in order to kill the highly susceptible young caterpillars that are feeding aggressively on plant foliage (Figure 1). Older caterpillars that develop


Figure 1. Young Bagworm Feeding On Conifer (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)


later in the season (Figure 2) are typically more difficult to kill with insecticides. Furthermore, females feed less as they prepare for reproduction, which reduces their susceptibility to spray applications and any residues. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki is active on young caterpillars; however, the active ingredient must be consumed to be effective, so thorough coverage of all plant parts and frequent applications are required. This compound is sensitive to ultra-violet light degradation and rainfall, which reduces residual activity. Spinosad is the active ingredient in a number of homeowner products, including: Borer, Bagworm, Tent Caterpillar and Leafminer Spray; Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew; and Monterey Garden Insect Spray. These products work by contact and ingestion (stomach poison) although they are most


Figure 2. Older Bagworms (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)



effective when ingested and can be used against older or larger bagworm caterpillars (Figure 3). Cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, trichlorfon, chlorantraniliprole, and indoxacarb may be used against both the young and the older caterpillars. However, thorough coverage of all plant parts, especially the tops of trees and shrubs, where bagworms commonly initiate feeding, and frequent applications are required. The reason multiple applications are needed when bagworms are first detected is because young bagworms “blow in” (called ‘ballooning’) from neighboring plants on silken threads. If left unchecked, bagworms can cause significant damage, and ruin the aesthetic quality of plants. In addition, bagworms may actually kill plants, especially newly transplanted small evergreens, since evergreens do not usually produce another flush of growth.


Figure 3. Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

If you have any questions regarding the management bagworms contact your county horticultural agent, or university-based or state extension entomologist.



Rose Sawflies

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd


There have been numerous inquiries regarding insects feeding, and completely devouring rose plants. These are sawflies, and there are at least two species that attack roses this time of year: the rose slug (Endelomyia aethiops) and bristly rose slug (Cladius difformis). Rose slugs are the immature or larval stage of sawflies, which are black to yellow-colored wasps.

Rose sawfly females create pockets or slits along the edges of rose leaves with their saw-like ovipositor (egg-laying devise), and insert eggs. Larvae hatch from eggs and resemble small slugs. Larvae are 1.2 cm long when full-grown and yellow-green, with an orange head (Figure 1). Larvae eventually fall onto the soil surface and pupate. Rose slugs overwinter as pupae in earthen cells created by the larvae. Bristly rose slug larvae are pale-green and 1.5 to 2.0 cm in length. The body is covered with numerous bristle-like hairs (Figure 2). There is generally one generation per year in Kansas for both species.

Figure 1. Rose Sawfly Larvae Feeding on Rose Leaf (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Rose slug larvae feed on the underside of rose leaves; resulting in the leaves appearing skeletonized (Figures 3 and 4). The larvae eventually they create notches or holes on the leaf margins. Bristly rose slug larvae feed on the underside of rose leaves and also cause leaves to appear skeletonized. However, the larvae may chew larger holes than the rose slug.


Figure 2. Bristly Rose Slug Larva Feeding On Leaf Underside of Rose (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Figure 3. Damage on Rose Plant Caused By Rose Slug Larvae Feeding (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Figure 4. Damage on Rose Leaf Caused By Rose Slug Larvae Feeding (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Small infestations of either the rose sawfly or bristly rose slug can be removed by hand and placed into a container of soapy water. A forceful water spray will quickly dislodge sawfly larvae from rose plants, and they will not crawl back onto rose plants. There are a number of contact insecticides containing various active ingredients that may be effective in suppressing populations of both sawflies. However, the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Dipel® or Thuricide®) will have no activity on sawflies as this compound only works on caterpillars.





European Fruit Lecanium Scale

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

European fruit lecanium scale (Parthenolecanium cornii) is noticeable on the twigs and branches of certain trees and shrubs in landscapes. Damage associated with this scale, which depends on the extent of the infestation, includes: plant stunting and wilting. The European fruit lecanium scale is a soft scale so honeydew (a sticky, clear liquid) will be produced during feeding. Honeydew attracts ants and serves as a substrate for black sooty mold. Moreover, honeydew can drip onto vehicles parked underneath infested trees leaving unsightly residues.


Figure 1. Close-Up of European Fruit Lecanium Scale (Author-Dan Potter, University of Kentucky).


Figure 2. European Fruit Lecanium Scale on Branch (Author-Dan Potter, University of Kentucky).

European fruit lecanium scales are dark brown and 1/8 to 1/4 inches in diameter when mature (Figures 1 and 2). Some scales may have white or dark markings on the body. European fruit lecanium scale overwinters as an immature on twigs and branches with maturation occurring in spring. Females lay eggs underneath her body from May through June. Eggs hatch into small tan-colored crawlers. The duration of egg hatch can last several days depending on temperature. Crawlers migrate to leaf undersides and feed on plant fluids until late summer. At that point, the crawlers migrate back onto twigs and branches to complete their development the following spring. There is one generation per year in Kansas.

European fruit lecanium scale management involves timely applications of insecticides. Applications need to be made when crawlers are present because the crawlers are the most vulnerable life stage to insecticide sprays. Mature scales possess a shell-like covering, which protects them from exposure to insecticides. Repeat applications will be required because the eggs do not all hatch simultaneously with eggs hatching over a three to four-week period. The best time to apply insecticides is late June through early July when crawlers are feeding on leaves, which enhances their exposure to any spray residues. There are a number of insecticides, with contact activity, that may suppress populations of the European fruit lecanium scale. However, many have broad-spectrum activity and consequently will kill many natural enemies (parasitoids and predators). In general, most out-breaks of scale insects are caused by the indiscriminate use of pesticides (insecticides and miticides). Therefore, always read the label and exercise caution when applying any pesticide. In the winter, dormant oils can be applied to kill overwintering scales by means of suffocation.


I need to acknowledge Jeff Otto and Matthew McKernan of Wichita, KS for bringing to my attention that European fruit lecanium scale was active.



Euonymus Scale

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd

We are receiving inquiries regarding euonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) crawlers on landscape plants such as evergreen euonymus (Euonymus japonica) and Japanese pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis). Euonymus scale overwinters as a mated female on plant stems. Eggs develop and mature underneath the scale, and then hatch over a two- to three-week period. The newly hatched crawlers, noticeable migrating along the stem, start feeding near the base of host plants. Crawlers can also infect adjacent plants by being blown around on air currents, resulting in infestations not being detected until populations are extensive and damage is noticeable later on in the season. Leaves eventually become spotted with yellow or white areas. Plants located near foundations, walls or parking areas are more susceptible to euonymus scale than plants growing in open areas that receive sunlight and air movement. Moreover, the variegated forms of euonymus are more susceptible to euonymus scale than the green forms.



Figure 1. Euonymus Shrub Heavily-Infested with EuonymusScale (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Heavy infestations of euonymus scale can ruin the aesthetic appearance of plants (Figure 1) resulting in complete defoliation or even plant death. Females are dark brown, flattened, and resemble an oystershell whereas males are elongated, ridged, and white in color (Figures 2 and 3).


Figure 2. Female and Male Euonymus Scale on Leaf (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)



Figure 3. Female and Male Euonymus Scale on Leaf (Author-Raymond Cloyd, Kansas State University)

Males are typically located on leaves along leaf veins and females reside on the stems. There may be up to three generations per year in Kansas.

Cultural practices such as pruning-out heavily infested branches—without ruining the aesthetic quality of the plant—is effective in quickly reducing euonymus scale populations. Be sure to immediately discard pruned branches away from the area. If feasible, avoid planting Euonymus japonica in landscapes since this species is very susceptible to euonymus scale. Winged euonymus (Euonymus alata) is less susceptible to euonymus scale, even when adjacent plants are infested. Insecticide applications conducted from May through June, when the crawlers are most active, will help alleviate problems with euonymus scale later on in the season. Insecticides recommended for suppression of euonymus scale populations include: acephate (Orthene); pyrethroid-based insecticides [bifenthrin (Talstar®), cyfluthrin (Tempo®), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar®)]; potassium salts of fatty acids (insecticidal soap); and horticultural (petroleum or mineral-based) and neem (clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil) oil. Check plants routinely for the presence of crawlers, which will help time insecticide applications. Three to four applications, in general, should be performed at seven to 10-day intervals although this is contingent on the level of an infestation. Euonymus scale is a hard or armored scale, so, in most cases, soil or drench applications of systemic insecticides such as imidacloprid (Merit®) are not effective in suppressing euonymus scale populations. However, the systemic insecticide, dinotefuran (Safari® or Zylam®) may provide suppression of euonymus scale populations when applied as a drench to the soil due to the high water solubility (39,000 ppm) of this systemic insecticide.

Euonymus scale is susceptible to many natural enemies (e.g. parasitoids and predators) including: braconid and ichneumonid wasps, ladybird beetles, green lacewings, and minute pirate bugs. However, natural enemies may not provide enough mortality (‘killing power’) to substantially impact “high” populations of euonymus scale. Furthermore, insecticides such as acephate (Orthene®), and many of the pyrethroid-based insecticides, such as; bifenthrin (Talstar®), cyfluthrin (Tempo®), and lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar®) are directly harmful to natural enemies, so applications of these pesticides may disrupt any natural regulation.


I need to acknowledge Jeff Otto of Wichita, KS for informing me that euonymus scale was active in South-Central KS.

Beneficial Insects – Instructional Videos

— Dr. J.P. Michaud – Hays, KS

We have produced a series of short, instructional videos on the various beneficial insects contributing to biological control of sugarcane aphid.

These videos describe how to identify various life stages of the important groups of predators and provide information about their basic biology, ecology and life history.


Lady beetles: https://youtu.be/3kz2OcF76pU

Hoverflies: https://youtu.be/9GxUWy1Rk2E

Lacewings: https://youtu.be/q0R6D-PX8-k

The interplay between host plant resistance to aphids and biological control: https://youtu.be/KxI7CQ7DYt0


European Elm Flea Weevil

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd


We are seeing damage on elm (Ulmus spp.) trees caused by the larval stage of the European elm flea weevil (Orchestes alni). Larvae are cream-colored, legless (Figure 1),

Figure 1. European elm flea weevil larva

and found in the mines of leaves. Adults are 3.0 mm in length, red-brown in color with black spots or markings on the abdomen or wing covers (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Adult European elm flea weevil.


The mouthpart is shaped-like a snout (Figure 3)


Figure 3. European elm flea weevil adult (note the snout-like mouth)

since they are weevils and the hind legs are thickened and enlarged, which allows the adults to jump when disturbed. Adults are initially active in May, and after mating, females lay eggs in the large mid-veins of new leaves. Eggs hatch into larvae that tunnel through the leaf as they feed (which is occurring now), creating serpentine-like mines that enlarge as larvae mature (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Serpentine mines created by European elm flea weevil larvae.

Larvae eventually transition into a pupal stage, and then adults emerge in May and June. Adults primarily feed on leaf undersides creating small holes on young leaves (Figure 5).

Figure 5. Feeding damage caused by European elm flea weevil adult.


The feeding damage caused by both the larvae and adults will not kill an elm tree; however, extensive feeding may ruin the aesthetic appearance. Adults overwinter under loose bark and in leaf litter under previously infested trees. There is one generation per year in Kansas. Nearly all elm species are susceptible to feeding by the European elm flea weevil especially Siberian elms (Ulmus pumila) and certain elm hybrids with Asian parentage.

Management of European elm flea weevil involves maintaining proper tree health by means of watering, mulching, pruning, and fertilizing. Insecticides may be used to minimize damage; however, insecticides may be difficult to apply to large trees. Insecticides must be applied in May and June in order to suppress adult populations. A number of insecticides may be used including: acephate (Orthene), imidacloprid (Merit), or carbaryl (Sevin). However, if damage is not extensive, especially on large trees, then there be no rationale for using insecticides. For more information regarding European elm flea weevil management contact your county or state extension specialist.






Clover Mite

–Dr. Raymond Cloyd

We have received inquiries regarding homes being invaded by populations of the clover mite, Bryobia praetiosa. This is the time of year when clover mites can be found entering homes, apartments, and commercial buildings, with large numbers crawling around and causing people to “freak out.” In general, clover mites enter buildings from the sunny-side or southwest exposure. They can aggregate in large numbers in the corners of buildings (Figures 1 and 2). Clover mites are primarily considered a nuisance pest because they do not bite humans. However, clover mites will leave a red stain when purposely or accidently crushed.

Figure 1. Cluster Of Clover Mites In Corner Of Building


Populations of clover mites only consist of females since males have never been found (we may need to look harder). Adult clover mites are slightly larger than a pinhead (1/30-inch long), red in color, with extremely long, pink front legs that may be used to distinguish clover mites from other mite pests. Clover mites overwinter as eggs in protected locations and there is usually one generation per year. Adults feed on over 200 plant types including: clover, grasses, ivy, honeysuckle, apple, and elm. Clover mite populations can be extensive in well-fertilized turfgrass near foundations, and their feeding will cause turfgrass to appear silvery or frosty.

Figure 2. Extensive Population Of Clover Mites Entering Building

The management of clover mites involves the following: 1) remove turfgrass near building foundations; 2) place an 18 to 36-inch wide band of an inorganic mulch around the foundation; 3) mow and trim turfgrass as short as possible; 4) avoid over-fertilizing turfgrass, especially with water-soluble nitrogen-based fertilizers; 5) remove weeds growing around the foundation; 6) remove or limit the growth of ivy or other host plants growing around the foundation or walls; 7) use plants near the foundation that are not typically attractive to clover mites, including: marigold, petunia, geranium, arborvitae, and/or yew; and 8) caulk or seal cracks or openings in the foundation or around window seals. Clover mites inside a home or building can be vacuumed up, however, be sure to avoid crushing them. Applications of insecticidal soap (potassium salts of fatty acids) will kill clover mites on contact. You can trap/capture clover mites on saran wrap (Figure 3) or a hardened surface coated with a sticky substance and position by openings such as window seals. If necessary, consult with a pest management professional for recommendations regarding perimeter treatments of pesticides (miticides) to keep clover mites from entering homes or buildings.

Figure 3. Clover Mites Captured On Saran With Sticky Substance



European Pine Sawfly

–Dr. Raymond Cloyd

Yesterday (April 17, 2017) European pine sawfly, Neodiprion sertifer larvae were detected feeding on my “indicator pine” in Manhattan, KS (I was totally excited!). Young caterpillar-looking larvae are 1/4 inch in length and olive-green in color with a black head (Figures 1). Mature larvae are >1.0 inch long with green stripes. The larvae are gregarious or feed in groups on needles of a variety of pines, especially Scotch, red, and mugo pine. When disturbed, each individual larva will arch their head and abdomen (last segment of an insect body) back, forming a “C-shape” (Figure 2), which is a defensive posture to ward-off predators.

Figure 1. Young European Pine Sawfly Larvae

Eventually, larvae will strip the needles of mature foliage, leaving only the central core, which is white and then turns brown (Figure 3). In general, larvae complete feeding by the time needles emerge from the candelabra. Therefore, those really is only a minor threat of branch or tree death resulting from sawfly larval feeding. However, the loss of second- and third-year needles will be noticeable in landscape trees; thus ruining their aesthetic appearance. In late spring, larvae drop to the ground and pupate in brown, leathery cocoons located at the base of trees. Adults, which are wasp-like, emerge in fall and lay eggs in needles prior to the onset of winter. There is one generation per year in Kansas.

Figure 2. European Sawfly Larvae In A Defensive Posture (Arching Head And Abdomen Back)

Sawfly larvae look-like caterpillars; but, they are not caterpillars (Order: Lepidoptera). Sawflies are related to ants, bees, and wasps (Order: Hymenoptera). The primary way to distinguish a sawfly larva from a caterpillar is by the following: 1) sawfly larva have prolegs (fleshy abdominal legs) on every abdominal segment whereas caterpillars are missing prolegs on the abdomen and 2) caterpillar larva have hairs or crochets on their feet whereas sawfly larva do not have hairs or crochets on their feet.

Figure 3. Feeding Damage To Pine Caused By European Pine Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly larvae are not caterpillars, therefore, the bacterial insecticide, Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (sold as Dipel) will not directly kill sawfly larvae. Dealing with sawfly larvae involves hand-picking (you can wear gloves if you wish) or dislodging larvae from plants by means of a forceful water spray. If necessary, there are a number of insecticides that may be applied to suppress European pine sawfly populations including: acephate (Orthene), azadirachtin, carbaryl (Sevin), spinosad (Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew and Conserve), and any pyrethroid insecticide (e.g., bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, and lambda-cyhalothrin). Be sure to read the insecticide label to make sure that sawflies are listed. For more information regarding European pine sawfly management contact your county or state extension specialist.


Ash/Lilac Borer: Don’t Get “Bored-Down” By This Caterpillar Borer

–by Dr. Raymond Cloyd


        The time of year has come to be thinking about dealing with the ash/lilac borer (Podosesia syringae). First, you need to understand that this is not the same insect pest as the Emerald ash borer (Agrilius planipennis), which was recently discovered (March 31, 2017) in Doniphan County (Kansas now has 7 counties under quarantine). Emerald ash borer is a wood-boring beetle whereas the ash/lilac borer is a wood-boring caterpillar. Ash/lilac borer adults are generally active from mid-April through early-May. Adults are brown, clearwing moths that resemble paper wasps (Figure 1). Peak moth activity commonly occurs from May through June; however, this depends on temperature. Adult females lay tan-colored, oval-shaped eggs in cracks and crevices, or wounds at the base of plant stems. A single female may live approximately one week and lay up to 400 eggs. Below are the major life history parameters and management strategies affiliated with the ash/lilac borer:

Figure 1. Ash Lilac Borer Adults Mating


* Larvae cause plant damage by creating tunnels and feeding within the bark (cambium). Moreover, larvae may bore further into the wood and feed within the sapwood and heartwood.


* Feeding by the larvae restricts the flow of water and nutrients causing shoot or branch dieback. Ash/lilac borer primarily feed near the base of plant stems creating swollen areas or cracks at the base of plants, and where major branches attach to the trunk.


* Evidence of larval feeding includes the presence of light-colored sawdust that accumulates at the base of infected trees or shrubs.


* Ash/lilac borer overwinters as a late-instar larva located in feeding tunnels or galleries.

* To determine if trees or shrubs are or have been infested with ash/lilac borers check for the presence of brown papery pupal cases that protrude from the bark (Figure 2). These are the pupal cases where adults emerged from.


* In Kansas, there is generally one generation per year.

Figure 2. Pupal Cases of Ash Lilac Borer Protruding From Tree Trunk


* The way to avoid problems with ash/lilac borer is to minimize “plant stress” by properly implementing cultural practices, such as; irrigation (watering), fertility, pruning, and mulching. Stressed plants are more susceptible to attack than so called “healthy plants.” A two to three foot wide mulched area around the base of trees and shrubs prevents injury from lawn mowers and weed-trimmers. In addition, avoid pruning plants in late spring through early summer (under usual weather conditions), because this is when adults are typically present and the volatiles emitted from pruning cuts may attract adult females.

* Insecticides containing the active ingredients, permethrin or bifenthrin can be applied to the bark, at least up to six feet from the base, in order to prevent ash/lilac borer larvae from entering plants after eggs hatch. Clear-wing borer larvae crawl on the bark searching for entry points, which exposes them to insecticide residues.


* Pheromone traps are commercially available for capturing adult males (Figure 3), which helps to determine when females will be laying eggs. Pheromone traps help in timing insecticide applications. Insecticide spray applications should begin seven to10 days after capturing the first adults. Be sure to also check pheromone traps two to three times per week and record the number of newly captured adult males.


Figure 3. Pheromone Trap Used To Capture Ash Lilac Borer Adult Males


* For more information regarding ash/lilac borer management contact your county or state extension specialist.


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