Are you wondering what that tiny flying thing is that’s damaging your plants? Rhododendron acts as a genus of the shrub.
They can either be deciduous or evergreen. In some species, the leaves are covered with lepidote (scales) or indumentum (hair) from beneath. They are the most common all-around in Asia.
A problem with having rhododendron is that they are quite often feasted upon by lace bugs because of their ripeness.
Moreover, in dry, hot weather, these evergreen shrubs are the major source of attraction for lace bugs. Lace bugs can severely damage your plants if no action is taken in time.
Over time, many types of lace bugs have been identified. The most common of these all are Rhododendron lace bug and Azalea lace bug.
These two types are the major ones and are found almost everywhere. They are capable of causing the worst possible destruction to your adorable plants. To know more about lace bugs and how to steer clear of them, stay tuned.
Reasons For Lace Bugs’ Attack On Plants
If you have been trying to figure out why lace bugs attack rhododendron, then worry no more. Below are the reasons as to why rhododendron plants are attacked by lace bugs.
1. Particular Species Of Plant
There are more than a dozen types of lace bugs around the world. All feeding on a specific species of plant. Lace bugs feed upon plants of whichever species they belong to.
Being very particular about their feed-sources, these bugs only attack particular plants.
The rhododendron lace bug, therefore, massively attacks Rhododendron plants.
2. Temptation On A Hot, Sunny Day
Lace bugs attack the rhododendron and feed upon it. However, on average days with normal surroundings, especially in late winter days, the chance of lace bugs being near your rhododendron plants is minuscule.
Just the way you’d want chilled water on a dry day, similar is the case with the lace bugs. They are tempted to suck out the life of the plant by feeding upon it on a hot day.
A warm and sunny environment provokes them to live off the rhododendron plant.
3. Moist Soil
If you notice the soil is moist and humid, be alert for the lace bugs that might be somewhere near you. Lace bugs are most likely to feed upon a rhododendron plant if it is rooted within a damp ground. The dry, sunny, and humid environment is their favorite.
Damp soil attracts lace bugs because that is the kind of surrounding that they can perfectly adapt to. Lace bugs not only feed on the undersides of the rhododendron plant but also live there.
They are so tiny in size that it is almost impossible to spot them until the leaves die or show severe damage.
Lace bugs can often cause substantial damage as they tend to be foliage feeders. They have grey color all over their body and are approximately 1/8 inch long. They are effortlessly and immediately recognizable due to their lace-like wings and their section behind the head.
Another easy way to recognize lace bugs is by looking for yellow spots above the leaves, called stippling. But other insects or weather conditions can also cause this color to appear.
Therefore, for confirmation of the signs indicating a lace bug’s presence, check the underside of the leaves for black spots. These black spots represent excrement, manifesting that the yellow spots were caused due to a lace bug.
Lace bugs are certainly easy to identify. It often happens that people flummox lace bugs for lacewings. Resultantly, they lose an excellent opportunity to benefit the health of their plants.
Lacewings are extremely beneficial and prey upon aphids, lace bugs, and other insects, mostly herbivorous.
Dealing with lace bugs can be annoying, but the best part is that they can be treated and controlled. If you spot lace bugs around your rhododendron plant soon enough and notice no severe damage to the plant, simply wash it off using a garden hose with high water pressure.
This will clear out the lace bugs from the infested plants and save them from further damage.
For protection from plant damage, regularly spray the leaves with neem oil. Neem oil has specific characteristics that prove to help avoid the growth of lace bugs.
If, unfortunately, a plant or two has been damaged, remove them from your garden bed immediately. Spray fungicide to protect the neighboring plants and observe them closely for any signs of damage.
Lace bugs can become a pronounced problem to handle if their population starts to increase (their offspring develop very quickly). They grow rapidly and try to cause as much trouble as possible. Below are the things that are of great help when steering clear of the lace bugs.
1. Neem Oil
Neem oil (alternate name Indian lilac) is used not only inside but also outside the house for many important purposes.
Neem oil works as an organic treatment in getting rid of lace bugs and other insects. Its chemical properties play an important role in controlling the infestation of rhododendron plants by lace bugs.
How Does Neem Oil Work?
How neem oil works is all the trick. Neem oil works in a systematic order. When sprayed or applied to a plant, neem oil travels from its tip to its roots.
Resultantly, the neem oil spreads all along with the plant and through its tissues. The neem oil reaches the vascular system of the plant, and that is where the rescue mission begins. The insects ingest the neem oil when they feed upon the plant.
The oil terminates the act of feeding diminishes the mating behavior, or stops the larvae from developing. Mostly, when the insects ingest the oil, it blocks their tiny breathing holes and doesn’t allow oxygen to pass. Eventually, it causes the insects to die.
Spraying pesticides like Neonicotinoids, Dinotefuran, and Imidacloprid can also prove helpful in getting rid of lace bugs.
Don’t go on spraying the pesticide all around your garden as it would surely cause the death of the lace bugs, but it could also kill other insects that can be beneficial.
Therefore, direct contact with lace bugs is preferred, for if you spray all over the garden, other desirable insects could also be killed.
How Do Pesticides Work?
How pesticides work can be a bit tricky, but it is essential. Pesticides affect the nervous system within insects.
It causes an interruption in the transmission of information from one place to the other in the body of the insect. The pesticide containing different enzymes binds with the chemical that allows information to travel from one part of the body to the other. This bond allows the muscles to rest and relax and so that they become over-stimulated.
Consequently, the body of the insect paralyzes and causes it to die.
3. Natural Control:
Before you opt for artificial methods or toxic chemicals, try some natural ways of saving your Rhododendron plant.
Lace bugs usually attack plants only during a hot, dry, and sunny weather. Taking advantage of the said fact, keeping the soil moist can prevent lace bug attacks.
Mulch your garden regularly and add sufficient compost to the soil to keep it moist. Also, providing shade can help in avoiding lace bug attacks with minimal effort.
4. Beneficial Insects
Another way of clearing out the lace bugs could be with the help of some beneficial insects like:
- Lady beetles
- Jumping spiders
- Lacewing larvae
- Predaceous mites
- Assassin bugs
- Pirate bugs
This method includes a long procedure and is not the supreme option for anyone who wants an instant solution.
Calling out for such insects can be a little problem as you would have first to bow seeds of plants that are a major cause of attraction for these insects.
These insects destroy the lace bugs but can also cause the death of their predators like lacewings, ladybirds, or pirate bugs.
And insects like lacewings are extremely beneficial as they prove to be helpful in many ways. Therefore, the usage of these bugs can turn out to be a little harmful, at times. This is one of the main reasons as to why this method is not exercised a lot.
Rhododendron lace bugs are not harmful until severely spread.
A plant can set up its defenses against the outer damages. But rhododendron plants are very vulnerable, especially in summers. They cannot continue to fight the lace bugs once they are heavily infested.
However, there is nothing to worry about. You can easily prevent lace bugs from entering your garden or attacking your rhododendron plants with some vigilance and a lot of neem oil.
As mentioned above, neem oil is not only helpful in household chores, cooking, or medicines, but it can serve a great purpose in steering these little lace bugs out of your garden.
Every problem comes with a solution. Trying any of the above-mentioned treatments and controlling techniques can surely help you get rid of lace bugs in no time. Happy gardening to you!