Something is eating the fronds of my ostrich ferns. Some fronds have sections eaten, some have nothing left but the stalk of the frond. Please advise a safe way to treat.
Kent County Michigan
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The four-lined plant bug, Poecilocapsus lineatus (Hemiptera: Miridae), has been recorded feeding on 250 plant species, most of which are herbaceous plants. The insect gets its common name from its four black stripes present on its front wings. This insect can extensively damage the leaves of its host by its feeding. Like all plant bugs, the FLPB has piercing mouthparts that are inserted into the leaf to suck out plant juice. In doing so, the bug injects saliva that contains enzymes that kill the plant tissue directly around the feeding puncture. Both FLPB nymphs and adult bugs cause characteristic necrotic spots, which might be confused with disease symptoms. This bug overwinters in the egg stage. The eggs hatch in early to mid-May in Michigan. Nymphs require 30 days or so to develop into adults. There are 2-3 generations each year but most damage I have experienced in my garden has been caused by the first generation. The FLPB attacks the upper leaves first and only a small number of these “recreational feeders” is required to cause extensive damage. It is best to spray these insects when they are first noticed. Sprays containing cyfluthrin (sold as Bayer Advanced Vegetable and Garden Insect Spray) or bifenthrin (sold as Ortho Bug-B-Gon) will help control them. You can try Safer's Insecticidal Soap or if you are concerned about using inorganic insecticides, but Safer’s is known to cause phytotoxicity problems on some species of plants. Picking these fast moving, elusive bugs by hand can be very frustrating. Avoid spraying flowers to preserve pollinators.
Be sure to read and follow all instructions and safety precautions found on the label before using any pesticide.