The following are highlights and updates about samples and questions recently received in the Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic. Visit the PIDC's Facebook page to ask questions and for updates and more pictures. For more information on a particular disease or insect problem listed, follow the article cited.
The following plant disease highlights represent recent sample submissions from fruit, vegetables, and ornamentals.
Willow, Maple and Oak anthracnose, see our encyclopedia article Anthracnose on shade trees
Oak powdery mildew, see our encyclopedia article Powdery Mildew
Maple suspected decline, see our encyclopedia article Tree decline
Willow leaf spot
Oak tatters, see our encyclopedia article Oak Tatters
Spruce- Stigmina needle cast
Spruce- Sudden Needle Drop or Spruce Needle Drop (SNEED), IL clinic article on SNEED
Perennials and Annuals
Hosta virus X , see our encyclopedia article Hosta-infecting Virii
Fruit (small and tree fruit, including hops)
Apple - Fire blight, see our encyclopedia article Fire Blight
We have gotten a several samples of trees with lecanium scale insects (two hackberry and a maple). This type of scale has a wide host range and can feed on many different tree species, but will tend to be worse on stressed trees. Lecanium scales produce a sticky honeydew that will lead to sooty mold causing branches of infested trees to be a bit black colored. Lecanium scale crawlers can be treated with an insecticide labeled for scale control when they are active, mid-June through mid-July. I am noticing eggs and crawlers on the samples I have seen.
We have received several pin oaks with vein pocket galls. A small female fly, called a midge, lays eggs on the leaf as it is just emerging from the bud and the larval feeding causes the tree to form the halls along the leaf veins and margins. The egg laying and insect feeding causes the leaves to produce the abnormal growth that we see along the veins. Luckily leaf galls are harmless to the plant.
Pearleaf blister mites on a ornamental pear was an interesting sample. These mites is not a serious pest of ornamental pear trees and treatment options for homeowners are limited. In addition any treatment has to be applied well before the leaf symptoms are observes.
General outdoor insects
Fungus gnats are common outdoors around homes right now. Fungus gnat larvae feed on fungus and other decaying organic matter in moist areas. In homes one of the most common sources is over-watered house plants.
Velvet mites have been noticeable in gardens. They look like tiny, bright-red moving dots. I see them on my mulch and crawling across my landscape rocks. Some red mites are common on sidewalks and are referred to as sidewalk mites or concrete mites. Velvet mites are predators of other arthropods, so there is no reason for concern as these mites are beneficial. Here is a link with pictures: http://bugguide.net/node/view/2419
We have received many inquiries about firefly larvae this year. They look a bit like centipedes, but they will only have 6 legs. Firefly larvae are beneficial as they eat pests such as slugs. Also, for the second year in a row, we are hearing reports that this is a "good year for fireflies". At least in some areas of the state the populations of these well-known, dusk-flying beetles are higher than normal. That's good news and means moisture under plant debris on the ground, mild winter and other conditions were right last year for successful firefly breeding and survival. Read more about fireflies at the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic website.