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Lace Bug Lesson

Our customers love azaleas. We see the bushes growing in all types of dazzling colors and various sizes in many of the properties that we manage; it truly is a Central Florida favorite. That’s the good news; but, there’s bad news too; some of the azaleas that we come across don’t look so great. In a lot of cases, the reason is hard to see, but if you look close enough and in the right places, you’ll see them; lace bugs. We hope this blog teaches you about the little pest with the big appetite and helps your azaleas look awesome. 

Look at the leaves
First, let’s find lace bugs. Don’t look at the top of leaves that would be too easy, check under them. Lace bugs lurk on the backside of leaves, usually on bushes in the sun. The little monsters with the fancy name are hard to see too, measuring at about 1/8 an inch long. You’ll need a magnifying glass to figure out why they’re called lace bugs; their folded white wings resemble the lace dollies you remember from your grandmother’s house. 

If you can’t see the lacy flower destroyers, look for their calling cards; ask yourself a few questions. Do you see yellow or white dots on your bush? Are the leaves curled up or brown during the summer growing season? Have you noticed a bunch of leaves dropping at the same time? If you nodded yes to any of those questions, lace bugs might be at work.

Mama lace bugs inject her eggs directly into the leaves of an azalea bush. From there, mom and her hundreds and hundreds of kiddies start sucking the life of the plant; in six weeks, the larva mature and meet other invertebrates. You know the rest of the story, they have babies, and so on, and so on until you have multiple generations of lace bugs living, loving, and slaying your favorite flowers.

Beat the bugs
Now that you’ve read over 300 words of bad news, here’s a ray of hope; lace bugs can be easy to control. Many commercial pesticides work, as do organic ones, like horticultural oil and neem. No matter what you use, be sure to spray the leaves' underside, remember, that’s where they live. Azalea owners aren’t the only ones who don’t like lace bugs; they have several natural predators like spiders and ladybugs.

The best defense against this delicate sounding insects is a healthy plant. Lace bugs and all pests look for unhealthy greenery, so keep feeding and watering your bush.

We hope this lesson on lace bugs helps you keep your azaleas sharp this season. Remember, look under the leaves, that’s where they’re hiding and eating your plant. If you’re having a tough time with them or need a few new azaleas or a whole new landscape design, contact us at ELT Landscape.
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