Description: Approximately half-inch-long grayish brown shield-shaped bugs.
Damage: Stink bugs have sucking mouth parts which they use to feed on fruit, leaving indentations or discolored spots behind.
Common Hosts: A large variety of fruits and vegetables.
Prevention:Eliminate weeds. Stink bugs overwinter on weeds, so eliminating weeds in your landscape will eliminate their main food source in the winter and keep populations down.
Control: Planting a variety of flowers which bloom during all seasons to help attract natural predators such as green lacewings, assassin bugs and damsel bugs. Chemical controls are generally not very effective against stink bugs.
Description: Extremely small (~1mm) white flying insects.
Damage: Whiteflies have sucking mouth parts which they use to suck the juices out of a plant's foliage. Damage appears as many small pale-colored dots on the foliage known as 'stippling'. Occasionally leaves will look crisp or dried up, and may fall off completely. They also leave behind a sticky excrement which can cause sooty mold on the leaves.
Common Hosts: Almost all plants are susceptible, some species prefer specific hosts. They breed almost year-round in California.
- Attract Benficials. Planting a variety of flowers which bloom at all times during the year will attract natural enemies of whiteflies, such as Ladybugs and Green Lacewings.
- Reflective Mulch. Whiteflies can become confused when plants are mulched with a reflective material.
Control: Insecticidal soaps and Neem oil can be an effective method of smothering the insects to keep populations down, however it is difficult to completely eradicate whiteflies by this method alone. Sticky traps placed near the affected area can also help reduce populations, be sure to replace them often.
Description: Medium-sized flying insects with segmented torsos and yellow and black stripes. They are distinguished from bees by their aggressive behavior and hairless bodies.
Damage: Yellowjackets, as well as many other species of social wasps, can be considered both a beneficial insect and a pest. If aggravated, they can sting people or animals.
Common Hosts: In early summer, they usually seek out sources of protein and feed on other insects, making them beneficial. In the late summer, they are attracted to sugar and can become a nuisance by feeding on dropped fruit, picnics, pet food and trash cans.
Prevention:Sanitation: If you see a nest beginning to form, eliminate it with chemical sprays as soon as possible before it gets too large. Also clean up dropped fruit, seal trash cans to eliminate their food sources.
Control: Pheremone-based traps are the most effective method against yellowjacket infestations. Be sure to replace the lure, and empty the traps frequently. Chemical sprays applied to the nests can be effective, but take caution to wear protective gear, as agitated wasps are particularly aggressive.
Description: Small (1mm-1cm) caterpillars, can be variable in color ranging from green to brown.
Damage: Small holes in flower buds, occasionally tiny black excrement that resembles poppy seeds is present.
Common Hosts: Geraniums, petunias and many agricultural crops such as tobacco and cotton.
- Attract Beneficials. Natural predators of budworms include big-eyed bugs and several egg parasites are good methods of control. To keep them in your garden, practice IPM.
- Hand-picking. Budworms can be hard to control by chemical methods because they tend to hide inside the flower buds and be difficult to reach.
Control: Bacillus thuringiensis or B.T. is a natural bacteria which is toxic to all types of caterpillars. Unfortunately, the caterpillars must consume it in order to perish, so the damage will continue for awhile after treatment.