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Summer Bugs: To Treat or Not to Treat?


Webbing on tree bark, white stuff on plants, & what’s cutting circles in my leaves?

Bark Lice: Good

We get lots of calls about webbing on tree trunks this time of year. These are good bugs called bark lice. They create a protective webbing around their colony and go to work cleaning the bark of your trees. Do Not Spray. These beneficial insects help maintain your trees’ health…absolutely free!

Image c/o Texas A&M Agrilife

Mealy Bugs: Bad

White cottony clumps on tips, stems, and undersides of leaves in summer are most likely mealy bugs! They are bad bugs. People often think these are a fungus because of their appearance but one squish with your fingers will tell you they’re insects feeding on your plants. They especially love Hibiscus, Jatropha and some Salvias. Treat naturally with Safer Insect Killing Soap or Neem Oil during cooler evening hours. You can also spray Broad Spectrum Insecticide which controls mealy bugs and other nuisance insects. Always follow label directions. 

Leafcutter Bees: Good

Surprise! Your plant has bees, not worms, cutting circles in their leaves. Leafcutter bees are all the buzz in area gardens as they build their nests. These are good bees! No need to spray or treat. The female will cut leaves in perfect circular patterns from thin leaves like Roses, Crape Myrtles, and Plumbago to block their nest openings. This only lasts a couple of weeks and your plants will be just fine. Like many bees, they are passive, but they can sting if harassed or aggravated. 


Reader Interactions


  1. Julie Phelps says

    But what can I do about wood borers in my tree? They are terrible black beetles , some as long as 2 inches. With pinchers or cutters, I guess they would be, that look like if they got a hold of you, it would hurt really bad!

  2. james says

    If you know the egg laying period of the attacking beetle, you can spray the trunk with Spinosad to prevent the eggs from hatching and boring into the tree. But the residual is short, so you would need to spray every week through the egg laying season, concentrating on getting it into all the crevices, since that is where eggs would be likely to be placed. Not much sense in trying to control the adults, but if you see them on your tree you can mash them with a stick.

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