Every spring our office receives dozens of calls about certain insects that emerge around this time each spring. The problem is that some years these insects come back in massive numbers, which can make some folks understandably nervous.
One problem we get many phone calls about each spring is a small black and red insect named the Jadera or goldenrain tree bug. People will tell us that the outside walls of their house and their tree trunks are totally covered with them. And for many people this is true – but only if you have a goldenrain tree on your property (or maybe your neighbor does). The Jadera bugs eat the fallen seeds from this invasive tree and nothing else. They do not bite, damage your house or cause damage to any of the plants you may see them standing on. Since they are essentially harmless and only around for a few weeks, spraying is not recommended or useful.
If you have oak trees in your yard, another insect that can be a problem during some years is the tussock moth caterpillar. This fuzzy caterpillar feeds on new oak tree leaves early in the spring, and the levels we have here in Hernando County can vary substantially. Some years we have very few, and other years we have them dropping by the hundreds out of the oak trees! It’s too early to tell how this spring will go. Healthy oak trees are not seriously damaged during normal years, and because their feeding is early in the season the trees will quickly grow new leaves. Trying to spray your tree is dangerous and will do little to control these caterpillars. By the time you notice the infestation the caterpillars are almost ready to make a cocoon and pupate, so if you just wait another week or two they will be gone.
Most people do not notice our huge lubber grasshoppers until late summer, when they have grown to the better part of two inches long. But the best time to control them is early spring, usually in early March here in Hernando County. When these grasshoppers hatch, they are black with an orange or red stripe down their back and are gregarious. This means that they hang around in large groups and are very easy to catch and throw in a bucket of soapy water. Since they only have one generation per year, if you control them when they first emerge in spring you will have far fewer huge ones in the summer!
And don’t forget the love bugs- they’ll be hatching in May.
For more information about any insects you may find on your property, shrubs or other plants call or stop by our office (352-754-4433) 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville, 34604, weekdays from 8 to 5; or the Master Gardener nursery at 19490 Oliver Street (behind the Hernando County fairgrounds). The nursery is open from 9AM to noon Wednesdays and Saturdays.
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