Open | Mon – Fri 9am – 7pm, Sat 9am – 6pm, Sun 10am – 5pm

Azalea Lace Bug Alert

By Paul James

Azalea lace bugs suck. Literally. They have specialized mouthparts that enable them to suck the juices out of plant leaves as if downing a smoothie through a straw. And while they don’t necessarily kill azaleas outright, they definitely make their foliage especially unsightly. But fear not, because I’m here to tell you how to identify and control them.

The telltale sign that your azaleas are being attacked by lace bugs (or Stephanitis pyrioides) is a change in the color of the leaves, going from green to silvery with white or yellow spots. You probably won’t see the lace bugs because they’re feeding on the underside of the leaves. But they’re not just feeding. They’re also reproducing at an alarming rate, capable of producing up to four generations in just a few months, which is why you want to nip them in the bud quickly.

To confirm lace bugs are indeed present, place a sheet of paper under a branch and tap the branch lightly. If you see tiny black specks, that’s lace bug poop (mixed with exoskeletons). 

Thankfully, controlling lace bugs is fairly easy. Spray with insecticidal soap, horticultural oil, neem oil, or a product containing Spinosad such as Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew. But make sure you spray the undersides of the leaves, because that’s where the little suckers are hiding. 

Happy gardening, ya’ll.

Spread the love

10 responses to “Azalea Lace Bug Alert”

  1. Ada Richardson says:

    What is the best mulch for a vegetable garden?

    • Paul James says:

      The best is wheat straw. Beware of using hay, as it’s usually filled with weed seeds.

  2. Sam Smith says:

    Is horticultural oil and dormant oil the same thing?

    • Paul James says:

      Not exactly. Dormant oil is much more viscous and should only be applied when plants are dormant, as in during the winter. Horticultural oil is much lighter and can be applied pretty much year ’round, except when temps are in the 90s.

  3. Clark Diana says:

    Do lace bugs Attack other plants? Thank you

    • Paul James says:

      Yes. There are several different species of lace bugs that are known to attack dozens of different plants.

  4. Trudy Sudberry says:

    What are your recommendations for planting anemones that were ordered Mar 7 and received today?

  5. J P says:

    Greetings Paul. Nothing like a quarantine to go into memory lane, watching Gardening by the yard on the HGTV app in my Roku. Re-discovering where I learned expressions (trees need to be planted, not buried), and so many habits I have been practicing in the last 20 years of gardening. In the last 2 weeks I found myself using compost and mulching again. I even bought 2 tools you used in the show some 23 years ago!!
    And those adorable kids of yours must be in their late 20s, early 30s by now!!!
    Good to find out you are still getting your hands dirty.
    Stay well,
    An old viewer from Seattle

    • Paul James says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words. And you’re right, kids are in their late 20s and early 30s. I’ve got two grandchildren as well, both of them gardeners.