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Pests on Perennials

Select the pest from the images below for more information:

AntsAphidsColumbine LeafminersColumbine Sawflys






Daylily MidgesDelphinium WormsFlea BettlesLeafhoppers






Scarlet Lily BeetlesSlugsSpider MitesSpittle Bugs






Stink BugsThrips







AntsAntsAnts are mostly beneficial, feeding on other insects and decomposing plant material. They do not feed directly on plants, but rather on plant debris, rotting wood. However, in great numbers, ants can disrupt turf with large hills.

Symptoms:  Will see ants scurrying along, may see hills in lawn if population is high.

Cultural Control:
• Try to locate the hill; if there’s not a clear sign of a hill, try to watch ant activity. You will see them coming and going from a general direction. Poke holes deep into turf in that area, and drench with an extensive amount of water.
• Powder areas of activity heavily with diatomaceous earth.

Chemical Control:
• Drench hills/tunnel areas with Malathion.
• Poke holes and inject with Doktor Doom Residual or Doktor Doom.


Plants affected:  Numerous indoor and outdoor plants

Symptoms:  Severe infestations will cause curling/twisting of foliage, flowers to wilt and drop.

Life Cycle:  Eggs hatch on host plants in spring, these nymphs give birth to ‘daughters’, within days the daughters give birth - up to 30 generations per summer

Cultural Control:
• Ladybird beetles/larvae, lacewings are natural predators
• Strong jet of water to knock aphids off plants

Chemical Control:
Doktor Doom House and Garden, End All, Ambush

Columbine LeafminersColumbine LeafminersColumbine Leafminers

Plants affected:  Various species of columbine

Symptoms: Leaves have winding tunnels through them

Life Cycle:  Eggs are laid in early spring, larvae hatch and feed in between leaf layers, causing mines

Cultural Control: Clip affected leaves

Chemical Control:  Ineffective

Columbine Sawfly

columbine sawfly.jpgColumbine SawflyPlants affected: Various species of columbine

Leaves are skeletonized
• Can cause complete defoliation

Life Cycle:
Eggs are laid on underside of leaves in April / Early May
• Hatch and feed in the outer edge leaves leaving only the veins
• Pupate and emerge into a wasp like fly

Cultural Control:
• Hand pick
• Diatomaceous earth

Chemical Control:  Insecticidal soap, Ambush, Doktor Doom House and Garden

Daylily Midge

Daylily MidgeDaylily MidgePlants affected:  Daylily

Symptoms:  Buds are deformed, streaked with purple

Life Cycle:
• Adults overwinter in soil, emerge in spring
• Adults lay eggs in developing buds. Larvae feed on buds, distorting them and leaving purple streaking. Unopened buds eventually drop to the ground and larvae emerge, overwinter in soil.

Cultural Control: Remove affected buds and discard in garbage or burn.

Chemical Control:  None available

Delphinium Worms

Delphinium WormDelphinium WormDelphinium WormPlants affected:  Delphinium

Symptoms:  Rolled, twisted leaves with black markings

Life Cycle:
Young caterpillars overwinter in hollow stems of old plants, emerge in spring to feed on new growth. Early summer caterpillars pupate in cocoons on undersides of leaves then adults emerge a few weeks later.
• Females lay eggs in July and young caterpillars feed amongst buds before hibernating.

Cultural Control:
In fall, cut delphinium stems to soil level, do not leave hollow stems for caterpillars to overwinter in
Remove affected leaves

Chemical Control:  Apply Diatomaceous Earth or Doctor Doom House and Garden in EARLY spring, when plants are about 6-8” tall

Flea Beetles

Flea BeetlesFlea BeetlesPlants affected:  Numerous perennials and annuals

Symptoms:  Numerous holes in foliage, about the size of a pinhead

Life Cycle:  Overwinter in soil beneath leaf debris, emerge in spring. Adults feed on foliage, mate and lay eggs

Cultural Control:  Clean up leaf debris and weeds in autumn

Chemical Control:  Spray adult beetles in spring before they lay eggs; Ambush, Dr. Doom House and Garden


LeafhoppersLeafhoppersPlants affected:  Virginia Creeper, Grape Vines most common, can affect other perennials

Symptoms:  Hazy, speckled leaves from feeding, clouds of insects flit about when disturbed

Life Cycle:
Some species lay eggs in fall to overwinter on woody stems and vines, eggs hatch in spring and feed on plants
Others migrate for the winter, and return as adults in the spring to lay eggs in host plants

Cultural Control:
Consistent misting of foliage with strong jets of water can knock down a certain amount of the pests
• Late fall or early spring applications of horticultural oil to smother adults

Chemical Control:  Apply diatomaceous earth or doctor doom house and garden in EARLY spring, when plants are about 6-8” tall. Once grape fruit is present, diatomaceous earth or ambush.

Scarlet Lily Beetles

Red Lily BeetlePlants affected:  Lilies

Symptoms:  Foliage and flowers chewed on, bright orange eggs on undersides of leaves.

Life Cycle:  Overwinter as pupae in the soil, adults emerge in spring. Adults lay eggs on undersides of leaves, eggs hatch in about 1 week. Larvae feed on both foliage and flowers May to September.

Cultural Control:
When lilies just emerging from soil, check for eggs. Squish eggs on undersides of leaves
• Remove insects, drop into bucket of soapy water.

Non-chemical Control:  Diatomaceous earth; dust soil and plants early when lilies emerging

Chemical Control:  Doktor Doom House and Garden Residual spray – apply early in spring as lilies are emerging


SlugsSlug TrailPlants affected:  Perennials, annuals

Symptoms:  Ragged holes chewed in leaves, slime trails on leaves

Life Cycle:
Overwinter as eggs in soil
• Hermaphrodite; every slug can lay eggs. Eggs laid in batches of 10-50 in moist soil.

Cultural Control:
Till soil to disturb eggs, expose eggs to natural predators
Spread diatomaceous earth or other gritty substances under plant leaves
Spread iron based slug pellets (Sluggo or Safer’s) at base of plants, under foliage
Beer traps; dishes filled with beer, set at soil level, may attract and drown slugs

 Chemical Control:  Metaldehyde based pellets

Spider Mites

Spider MitesSpider MitesPlants affected:  Numerous indoor and outdoor plants.

Stippling—tiny dots in foliage.
Yellowing of foliage—’haze’ on foliage.

Life Cycle:
Can overwinter in various stages under debris or bark on host plants, in greenhouses.
Become active in spring as foliage emerges.

Cultural Control:
• Lacewings are natural predators
• Keep plants misted (they prefer dry conditions)
• Fall debris cleanup.

Chemical Control:  End All, Doktor Doom House and Garden, Ambush.

Spittle Bugs

Spittle BugsSpittle BugsPlants affected:  Numerous annuals and perennials

Symptoms:  Spit’ on plant—bug is hidden underneath the foam

Life Cycle:
Eggs overwinter on plant material, hatch in spring, nymphs feed on plants
Adults lay eggs in late summer

Cultural Control:  Spray plants with strong jet of water

Chemical Control:  Not necessary

 Stink Bugs

Stink BugsPlants Affected:  Numerous; trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals

Various forms/colours will be seen—will generally have a large triangular plate on their back
Omit foul smelling substance when disturbed

Life Cycle:  Adults overwinter in plant debris/in soil. Emerge May-June, eggs are laid in June-July, from egg to adult takes about 25 days

Though found in large #’s, rarely cause damage to the extent that warrants spraying with insecticide
Actually a predator of Colorado potato beetles. Each nymph can consume over 250 eggs


ThripsThripsPlants affected:  Numerous indoor and outdoor plants

Symptoms:  White blotches or streaks on foliage/blooms – damage is the size/shape of a ‘hyphen’

Cultural Control:  Remove affected blooms and leaves

Chemical Control:  End All, Doktor Doom House and Garden