Defending Your Turf Against Summer Season Garden Pests

By TruGreen May 28, 2021
Family playing soccer on lawn

As a gardener, you spend time and money ensuring your plants and veggies succeed. Here are the pests that stand in your way and what you can do to stop them.

Defending Your Turf Against Summer Season Garden Pests

Depending on where you live, you may encounter a host of different summer garden pests. These intruders could range from small bugs to critters out to help themselves to your delicious vegetable garden. It’s helpful to be prepared for the summer’s most popular garden pests so you know what to look for and how to control them if they do show up in your garden.

Aphids

CHARACTERISTICS: Aphids tend to be very small in size, which is how they got the nickname “plant lice.” They come in a variety of shapes and colors (4,400 to be exact), but all types share a common bond: they feed on the soft tissue of your garden plants and suck out the fluids with their piercing mouthparts. As you might expect, they tend to reproduce in large numbers, so seeing one means that there is a whole community nearby. 

SYMPTOMS: The easiest way to visually identify that aphids have taken over your garden is by the appearance of twisted, cupped or wrinkled stems, leaves or flowers. Aphids also produce a sticky secretion called honeydew that turns black as a result of sooty mold fungus.

TREATMENT: If you see any signs of aphids, act fast. These nasty bugs can take out entire plants and spread to others if left untreated. There are a few traditional methods for controlling Aphids, including professionally applied pest control treatments or preventative measures such as removing weeds from your lawn that can be early season food sources for these pests. Your TruGreen specialist can help you with your weeds. Spraying plants with a strong stream of water from a garden hose can also dislodge aphids and wash away honeydew. These dislodged aphids rarely have the ability to return to a plant to feed.

Armyworms

CHARACTERISTICS: The aptly named armyworm tends to travel in packs, but it isn’t actually a worm at all. In fact, they are highly destructive caterpillars that can take out an entire garden in one fell swoop. They’re grayish-green, normally with light stripes that run lengthwise along their bodies.

SYMPTOMS: The most obvious sign of armyworms in your garden will be the presence of birds. If birds are constantly feeding on your lawn, it could mean you have armyworms (or a different kind of pest). If you suspect armyworms, check your grass. They love nibbling on leaves of grass, leaving a ragged, or even skeletonized, appearance. If you see leaves that are completely stripped bare, it’s a good chance you have an armyworm problem.

TREATMENT: Outside of professional treatment, the most effective way to deal with armyworms is to get hands-on. Handpick the worms and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Remember they travel in packs, so don’t stop after one or two worms - there will likely be more!

Whiteflies

CHARACTERISTICS: The Spiraling Whitefly, which is most prevalent in Southern Florida, can cause significant damage to a large number of palms, trees and shrubs in a short amount of time.  It’s the largest and most aggressive species in the whitefly family, plowing through your plants with reckless abandon. They’re a small, unassuming winged bug that can be identified most easily by the sticky excrement called honeydew they leave on your palms, trees and shrubs. It’s likely you’ll see this before the actual whitefly, so be sure to check for it when you’re tending to your plants.

SYMPTOMS: While Whiteflies do weaken the plants they feed and breed on, the biggest problem is the mess they leave behind for you: the honeydew secretion could result in a sooty mold buildup.  The most obvious indicator of a whitefly infestation is the white spiraling (hence the name) pattern they produce on the bottom of leaves when they lay eggs. These pests require immediate attention, as the secretion extends beyond your garden to your pool, car or home.

TREATMENT: Unfortunately, these pests are usually beyond your control. The best way to treat the effects of whiteflies is to let TruGreen® help you. Our Tree and Shrub program helps limit the damage caused by most pests. 

Brood X Cicadas

CHARACTERISTICS: After 17 years underground, the Brood X cicadas are expected to emerge during summer 2021. Experts expect billions to emerge from late-June to mid-July. Gardeners in Indiana and Michigan should be particularly cautious as they are likely to be most affected by the Brood X cicadas. These pests are between 1.5 to 2 inches in length and have long black bodies, reddish eyes, and orange wing veins. They can be quite a nuisance with their loud mating call and may be a little unnerving due to the sheer size of the population!

SYMPTOMS: Although they will not cause any harm to you or your lawn in these warmer months, some cosmetic damage may occur to trees, specifically the twigs of younger trees. Female cicadas will typically slit and flag twigs to lay their eggs in the soft bark. Most of these wounds should heal, especially on older trees. However, in extreme cases, it is possible for the tips of the branches to die. Smaller, newly planted trees are of greater concern because many of the branches are the size female cicadas are looking for. Most of the time, you’ll just be dealing with cosmetic damage, so there is no major concern for the health of your garden.

TREATMENT: There is currently no product to protect plants from cicadas. However, there are a few techniques you can use to protect your trees from the cosmetic damage they may cause. Use your garden hose to spray the Brood X cicadas and keep them off your trees. If you have smaller trees such as maples, oaks, willows, or other ornamentals, they can be protected from cicadas with netting. As soon as you hear the mating calls from the male cicadas, start netting your trees. Make sure the nets have holes of approximately 0.25 inches or less and they should remain on the trees for approximately 4 weeks. Both strategies are effective, it will really depend on what your schedule allows during those weeks.

Spotted Lanternfly

CHARACTERISTICS: The Spotted Lanternfly, mostly prevalent in Pennsylvania summers, is an invasive insect known for causing damage to trees, vines, crops and other types of plants. You can recognize this destructive species by their black heads and black bodies with white dots as nymphs and grayish and red wings covered in black spots as adults. Adults feed on tree trunks and branches while nymphs feed on younger growths, weakening plants and making them prone to lethal diseases and other insects. Like the whitefly, these lanternflies will leave you with a sticky mess that is very difficult to deal with.

SYMPTOMS: The Spotted Lanternfly sucks the sap from the host tree and then excretes out massive amounts of honeydew. The honeydew can attract other irritating pests such as wasps and ants. You can tell when the pesky Spotted Lanternfly is done feeding when sticky honeydew starts dripping down from your trees and a black layer of sooty mold develops, ruining the area below whether it be your yard, porch, sidewalk or cars.

TREATMENT: The best treatment for the damage caused by Spotted Lanternflies is to call TruGreen. We’re here to help you prevent this unsightly mess and protect your trees. Our unique five round treatment targets these threatening insects at every stage of their life, saving your property from these pesky pests so you can focus on summer fun with the family.

Of course, you may run into other pests in your garden this summer, but these are a few of the ones you need to deal with as soon as you see the symptoms. If you have specific questions about what may be happening in your garden or how to prepare for pests this summer, call us today (800-464-0171) or get a quote.

Need Help? Call 1-844-567-9909

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