Tips To KO Your Lace Bug Problem

By on January 17, 2013

The exact life cycle of lace bugs varies slightly from one species to another. Generally, adult lace bugs lay clusters of eggs within the veins of leaves, and the nymphs hatch in the late spring. They mature quickly – sucking sap the whole time- and start laying their own eggs. There are usually several generations per year, depending on their species and the local climate. Most lace bugs die when the cold weather comes, leaving behind one last batch of eggs; but some species spend the winter snoozing under loose pieces of tree bark or in garden liter.

Any of dozens of sap-sucking insects could go on a drinking binge on your shrubs, leaving behind foliage that is specked, splotched, or stippled with bleached-out spots. But lace bugs drop an additional calling hard, black spots of excrement on the undersides of leaves and sometimes flowers. In addition to sporting defaced plant parts, the victims lose their get-up-and-grow power and may bloom poorly.

There are several species of lace bugs, all of them host-specific, which means that each one attacks only one type of plant. The adults are pale brown or whitish, about 1/8 inch long and boxy in shape, with lacy, transparent wings. The wingless nymphs are darker than the grown-ups, and are covered with spines.

Both adult lace bugs and their nasty nymphs target many shrubs, including azaleas, rhododendrons, cotoneasters, and ceanothus. The bad news is that heavy feeding may kill foliage and stems. The good news is that if you spring into action fast enough, you will save your plants.

Although lace bugs are fully capable of flying, they seldom take to the air. Most of the time, they get to where they’re going by just sliding sideways. That makes them perfect target for one of my good-riddance tools: your handy-dandy vacuum cleaner.  Here’s all you need to do: At the first sign of trouble, pluck off the stricken leaves and pack’em with your trash. Then get out your wet/dry vacuum cleaner, fill the reservoir with about 2 inches of soapy water, and sweep those bugs off of the leaves and into the drink.

No vacuum cleaner handy? No problem! Just spread an old sheet or shower curtain on the ground under your afflicted shrub, and use a broom to sweep the lace bugs of their feet and onto the fabric. Then gather up the goods and dump the little thugs into a bucket of soapy water.

If you prefer liquid cleaning, give the bugs a lethal shower with this home remedy that kills off lace bugs and just about any other soft-bodied insect you can name, including rose midges, mealybugs, thrips, and aphids. You’ll need ½ bar of Fels Naptha or Octagon soap (found in the laundry section of your local supermarket) and 2 gallons of water.  Add the soap to the water and heat, stirring until the soap dissolves completely. Let the solution cool, then pour into a hand-held sprayer, and let it rip. Test it on one plant first though – and be sure to rinse off all the plants after the bugs have bitten the dust, because lingering soap film can damage leaves.

Lace bugs seem to target pants that aren’t getting as much moisture as they should. So if it’s been a while since Mother Nature sent rain clouds scurrying by, haul out the garden hose and give your shrubs a good, long drink of H2O. They best method is to lay a soaker hose on the ground in loose circles, from the crown of the plant out to the drip line. Then turn on the water and let it seep into the ground for about a half hour.

Because many lace bugs spend the winter in dead leaves and other garden litter, here’s a simply strategy fr a bug-free spring: Do a thorough fall clean-up and destroy any pant material that you suspect may be harboring lacy bad guys.

Jimmy Mcallen is an expert in pest control home remedies. He currently runs his own company and offers free consultations at Mcallen Pest Control.

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