Over the previous year, millions of insects have visited our landscaping, many making it their home and laying eggs for the next year. And while insects are an important part of a healthy landscape, there are some that can cause health problems for certain kinds of plants. Fortunately, an early spring bath with non-toxic, horticultural oil can stop some of the most common insects pests before they do damage.
SCALE INSECTS: This is a broad category of a common insect class that attacks a wide variety of plants and trees from hemlocks to holly. The key to successful control is in the timing. Dormant Oil, a horticultural oil, is very good at controlling scale insects.
The insect attaches to the needles or stems of plants and forms a protective shell, a defense against predators and pest control products — but, in early spring they emerge from their protective shell and enter a crawler stage. A good soaking with horticultural oil at this time will suffocate them before they can reattach and start feeding again.
SPIDER MITES: Spider mites are another common pest that can be controlled with oil sprays. Unlike their spider cousins that eat insects, mites such as the spruce spider mite feed on plant material, especially in the heat of the summer. They are a common pest of the popular Dwarf Alberta Spruce.
As mites are not insects they will not be controlled by insecticides and spraying plants with plant care products often makes the situation worse. Smothering the mite eggs in the early spring with oil will often control this pest without harming beneficial insects.
FOUR MORE: Other insects that can harm or even kill trees include Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Cooley Spruce Gall and White Pine Weevil. Bathing these evergreen trees with oil can keep them healthy and looking good.
FRUIT TREES: Fruit trees also benefit from oil sprays as eggs and emerging larva hide in the cracks of the bark or inside the buds before they open for spring. Often these insects will damage the leaves before they have a chance to open.
By far the best benefit of Dormant Oil is that it is not toxic and can reduce the need for stronger, more powerful insecticides later in the season. By taking preventive measures, we can keep our plants looking good without harming the beneficial insects we need for a healthy environment. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.
So when you think about spring cleaning your house or garage, don’t forget about your landscaping. Healthy plants will make your yard look fantastic. An early spring bath of Dormant Oil will keep your trees and shrubs happy and healthy.