Azalea lace bug

Asked January 6, 2015, 2:12 PM EST

My son's yard has about 5 or 6 azaleas that appear to have a severe infestation of lace bug damage. The damage was apparent in the summer and early fall covering most of the plant.they have a row of the azaleas across the front foundation border of their house.so they are a most all plants are interconnected. They're @t least 50 years old and have been sheared for 15 years at least. I attempted to reshape them the last 2 years but they are still in need of more. They face west so they get some afternoon sun. There is also one in the back yard that seems to have been affected as well. If control methods are not successful and we remove the plants what type of evergreen could they replace them with and not have another attack?

Clackamas County Oregon trees and shrubs azaleas azalea lace bug

1 Response

Azalea lace bugs have been the scourge of local azaleas and some rhododendrons during recent years. It’s worth knowing that even though the azaleas may look nasty, those given a modicum of care will bloom year after year.

Among the keys to successfully battling lace bugs are these:

- Stressed plants appear to be the most common victims. To relieve stress, thin out individual plants to increase aeration, and ease of applying sprays; irrigate every two weeks through our dry months; and if the plants are in excess sun, consider rigging temporary shade or transplanting to a different site in the fall.

- The best bet to decreasing the population for the coming year is to kill new hatchlings. To accurately time the first spray, monitor the undersides of the leaves regularly, beginning in April. To do so, check the undersides of the leaves every several days as you look for the small dark colored nymphs (the youngsters). The most effective time to spray is right after the hatch, when the nymphs are in a rather tight cluster on the undersides of the leaves and before they disperse. If you prefer to avoid pesticides, a harsh water spray to the undersides of the leaves can be very effective at this early stage. Adults are challenging to kill. If you use insecticides, they must also be applied to the undersides of the leaves. (See the list below.)

- Repeat sprays are required during the growing season because the lace bugs have multiple generations. Again, monitor to determine appropriate timing. (New generations tend to hatch in mid-May, June, July, August, with perhaps another in September.) A harsh water spray can be very effective against each new hatch.

- Don’t spray any pesticide if the temperature is, or will be, above 80F.

These contact insecticides will temporarily control lace bugs if the product thoroughly covers the underside of leaves where lace bugs live and feed. Repeat according to label directions:

- Azadirachtin

- Insecticidal soap

- Narrow-range horticultural oil. Use in the fall to coat the undersides of the leaves where the eggs are laid alongside the midrib.

- Neem oil

- Spinosad

The options among systemic pesticides are the active ingredients acephate and imidacloprid.

If the azaleas will be replaced, I suggest consulting with a nearby large independent garden center for shrubs that will thrive in our region. Encore azaleas have proved themselves elsewhere but haven’t been evaluated in the northwest.

Also see “Azalea Lace Bug” http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1957/40424/em9066.pdf