Thursday, August 21, 2014

It Isn't Snowflakes, It's Wooly Aphids

It looks as if snow is swirling in the air outside. I thought it was mealybug adults swarming, maybe.

Wooly aphids caught in a spider's web.

When I commenced to google, I found this fantastic look at the things:

Fuzzy White Flying Bugs

The above photographer saw these things in a different perspective than I could.
He saw fairies; I saw little devils with the possibility of plant destruction.

Wooly aphid on a Camellia leaf

Specific questions brought more answers:
Woolly aphids feed by inserting needle-like mouthparts into plant tissue and withdrawing sap. They feed on leaves, buds, twigs, and bark, but can also feed on the roots.
Symptoms of feeding include twisted and curled leaves, yellowed foliage, poor plant growth, low plant vigor, and branch dieback. Physical injury may result when large numbers of woolly aphids attack young trees or unhealthy, stressed trees.
Fortunately, severe woolly aphid infestations only occur periodically and are generally kept in check by natural enemies. In addition to the physical damage to the plant, accumulations of wax and shed skins are sometimes very conspicuous signs on the leaves, twigs, and bark.
Then I confirmed that wooly aphids that attack Camellias:

American camellia Society

Or maybe Crape Myrtle Wooly Aphids? I went outside and surveyed pears, crape myrtles, camellias and everything else to see where they're coming from. Crape Myrtles and Pears seemed not to be affected. They seem to be thickest where Camellias are. Then I noticed the boxwood under the Camellias.

Boxwood Psyllids

Good Grief! They're on Wisteria. Last year Kudzu bugs attacked Wisteria. This year it's wooly aphids.

We need more spiders!

I take little comfort from this, but maybe the beneficials will catch up:
Woolly aphids are an important resource for natural biological controls such as lacewings, lady beetles, hover flies, and parasitic wasps. Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
Flying adults are a wonderment. They are intriguing, not harmful. When adults are migrating the feeding and honeydew production on the maples has been accomplished and no control is needed. Relax and enjoy the fascination of Nature.
Tolerance of aphid presence is one way to encourage beneficial insects.
I feel better for visiting U Fla web site:
Aphids are attacked by a very large number of predators, parasites and pathogens. Some of the common predators include several species of lady beetleslacewing larvae and syrphid fly larvae.
Many small hymenoptera parasites infest aphids, most being species specific. Parasitized aphids are easy to detect, their bodies turn a tan or cream color, become hard and shiny and are commonly referred to as mummies. When the parasitic wasp emerges from the aphid, it leaves a small round hole in the body.

 I'll give beneficials a chance and if the bad bugs hang around I'll give them a soapy shower. Perhaps a better control would be to use oil spray next spring before eggs hatch.

Have you seen the air full of white fuzzy critters?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Painting instead of Planting

The ground is too dry to plant; August is not an ideal planting time, so I spent time painting outdoor furniture instead.

I sanded and painted this old wood rocker Navy Blue and put it on the porch.

Weary of the two-seater glider showing up in every picture of the Upper Garden, blue in the distance, I chose brown to blend with the landscape.

Vintage metal chairs that match the glider got a coat of brown and a spritz of Rustoleum Hammered Copper. I really liked them best when they were red primer color before the final coats. It looked just right when I saw it out the kitchen window. 

Vintage settee looks out over cultivated fields.

Next year I may try Hammered Bronze. 

I'm wondering if the current trend to bright colors in the garden for accessories may turn to colors from nature like this shelf fungus I found the other day.

I'm happy with the bright Lagoon Blue and Lime that I painted my folding chairs that are mostly hidden behind shrubbery. When I painted the old patio table a kind of faux zinc and finally painted its legs, I liked that even better.

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