Bryan and College Station Pest Control – Odd, Linear Damage to Leaves?
Moths are an interesting category of pests. We think about them fluttering around our porch light but rarely about the fact that both butterflies and moths are very damaging during their larval stage. In many decorative plants, such as Canna, you find oddly damaged leaves. In the case of canna, the leaves look as though someone has purposely drilled holes in them. This damage is caused by leafrollers – more specifically, the Canna Leafroller. Leafrollers affect many types of plants from grapes to apple trees. Each type of plant has its own variety of leafroller and the damage is different between plant species.
What are Leafrollers?
Leafrollers are larvae – a caterpillar – from Tortrix moths – a family of lepidoptera (moth and butterfly) that has over 10,000 species.
What Do they Do
The larvae are the most damaging and they use a type of glue or silk to roll up leaves while the leaves are still young. In the case of Canna, they bind the layers of leaves together while the leaves are immature. Canna leaves emerge rolled. For apples and grapes, the leaves are meticulously rolled into a silk spun home for the larvae who feed on the leaves as they grow. When the leaves unroll, the damage is very evident.
In some plant species, the damage to the leaves can cause the plant to stress so that its ornamental blooms are less or that its fruit production is decreased. For non-eatable plants, systemic pesticides thoughtfully applied by a professional can solve or reduce this pest problem.
There are organic means that help to control leafrollers too. One of the best green and organic tool is bats. Erecting a bat house can significantly reduce the number of adult moths and that means fewer caterpillars. Bats are a very green way to control many types of pests including mosquitoes.
More importantly, bats are one of the main ways to control moth populations because most (99%) are night flying insects and bats feed at dawn and dusk. So, as a predator, bats fill an important niche that directly deals with moth including the Tortrix family of moths. Butterflies on the other hand are mostly day flying insects and bats are not an issue.
There are growth hormones that you can also spray on your plant in the early part of their growing season. The hormone keeps the larvae of moths – it is specie specific – from turning into an adult. This method will not save your plants this year, but it will drastically reduce the population of adult moths in the years to come. If you continue the program the population should dwindle to a state where you do not notice the damage.
Pest control on crops and foods that we eat can be tricky. Learning more about how green pest control solutions – whether chemical or mechanical – is a great place to start. We talk with our clients about their pest control goals and find solutions that fit their lifestyle. For more information about how our services work, reach out to our team. We are happy to answer your questions.