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.
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