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K-State Turf and Landscape Blog

Tag: entomology

Abundance of Caterpillars in the Garden

By Frannie Miller

This post has been provided by the Extension Entomology e-Newsletter.

This week as I have been out in my own yard and garden I have noticed an abundance of different types of caterpillars. Identification of caterpillars can be difficult because so many of them look really similar, but often if you know what plant they feed upon it will give you a clue.

The first image is of a caterpillar sent to me by a friend asking what it was. She found it feeding on her pansies, which were a hold over plants from spring. These caterpillars are known as pansyworms. They usually grow to be 1 ¼ inches long with a characteristic deep-orange color with black striped sides which feature spines. These caterpillars will take bites out of the leaves, but the resulting variegated fritillary butterfly will add color to the garden.

Panysworm image: Courtesy of Cheryl Boyer

Then I found a few yellowstriped armyworm caterpillars feeding on some of my flowers. I picked them off as I did not want them to feed on those particular plants, but allowed them to feed elsewhere. These caterpillars turn into a somewhat drab grayish-brown moth.

Yellow Striped Armyworm

Finally I spotted a mass of small caterpillars feeding on sunflowers in the garden. The sunflowers were not ones I plants and had come up as volunteer so I have decided to let the caterpillars eat on these plants. It is difficult to for me to identify the exact species from a picture, but they will turn into some sort of checkerspot butterfly.

I have chosen to not use any insecticides to control these particular caterpillars, but options such as Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Btk) and spinosad can be used when caterpillars are small. If you are going to use these products, remember to read and follow the label.

Checkerspot Caterpillar

Sometimes we don’t notice the caterpillars until they are larger and hand picking may become the best control option.

The damage caused by Japanese Beetles

By Brooke Garcia

Japanese beetle is popping up throughout most of Kansas, and it is feeding on many common landscape plants including roses, littleleaf linden, Virginia creeper, and grape. The Extension Entomology e-newletter recently posted a blog that highlights information related to management, chemical treatment, as well as biological information about the beetles. They are one of the most destructive insect pests on horticultural plants, and they cause a lot of problems for professionals and homeowners alike in landscapes and gardens. Raymond Cloyd also notes that, “the larva or grub is a turfgrass insect pest in home lawns, commercial settings, and golf courses.”

To read more, visit the Extension Entomology post, Japanese Beetle Adults Are Here!

Japanese Beetle Adults Feeding On Leaf (Auth–Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

Euonymus Scale

By Brooke Garcia

This is the time during the summer season when Euonymus Scale may be extra noticeable on evergreen euonymus. The scale insect will appear as small, white dots covering the planting. If you are wearing darker clothing and come into contact with the shrub, you may notice the white “debris” coming off of the plant. The plant can quickly become infested and covered with this insect. Euonymus Scale is capable of killing the plant if left untreated. Keep a watchful eye on plantings during this time. There are cultural strategies that can be incorporated into the garden to reduce the likelihood of this insect becoming a problem, but it is extremely prevalent and may require chemical treatment.

Euonymus Scale Infestation On Euonymus Plants Located Near Building (Auth-Raymond Cloyd, KSU)

For more information about the biological characteristics of this insects, as well as cultural and chemical practices that can aid in prevention and/or treatment, visit the K-State Extension Entomology post here: https://blogs.k-state.edu/kansasbugs/2020/07/02/euonymus-scale-4/

New publication on oak leaf itch mite

(Megan Kennelly, KSU Plant Pathology)

In my neighborhood, and many communities across Kansas, we had an outbreak of oak leaf itch mites with a peak a couple of years ago. If you have itch mites in your area this year, you’ve had them before, or you simply have oak trees around, here is a new information sheet from KSU Entomology about this topic:

https://www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu/pubs/MF2806.pdf

With raking season upon us, take extra care if you do have them active in your area this year.

Curled leaf symptoms:

Unhappy person with itch mite bites during windy raking season a few years ago: