Monday, May 20, 2013

Swamp Azalea Pest Revealed

Every year the poor little Swamp Azalea out front next to the main steps mysterious loses all its leaves. Nothing but the leaf veins are left.  It's able to grow new leaves, but it is definitely hard on the shrub. 

This year I finally caught the culprits, which appear to be Azalea Sawfly larvae, which originated in South Africa. They are very well camouflaged and I crushed dozens if not hundreds, but kept finding more.  Some were very tiny and just hatched, so I stopped at home and grabbed some insecticide.

The active ingredient is Pyrethrin, which qualifies as organic, but it's an insecticide of last resort since it does kill just about every bug you spray it with. Normally I do not use pesticides in the garden, but in this case it seemed necessary. The Swamp Azalea has not evolved with the Azalea Saw Fly and has no natural defense.

After several hours weeding, transplanting, and weed-whacking, the garden looks pretty good. 

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