aphids on ornamental grasses

mnsilverfeatherAugust 9, 2007

We have many ornamental grasses, 40 to be exact, and I've seen some aphids on the backside of the blades on a couple of different varieties.

2 of the Miscanthus 'Blue Wonder' and on a Pennisetum 'Cassian' fountain grass.

The blades that they are on are turning a redish color and drying up. I haven't ever noticed them on the grasses before, but I've been spotting them easily this year by the way the grass blades are turning color.

We have aphids on a lot of the shrubs and spray Bonide Eight Insect control on them with the hose. What is safe to use on ornamental grasses? I don't want to harm them or the seed heads that are now starting to emerege at the very moment.

Maybe it's just the severe drought and heat from the this year that is making the insects more of a problem, but it's worse here than usual. Rabbits have been eating some of the new grasses this year and they usually have never bothered the grasses. I use Liquid Fence and it helps a lot it seems.

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May I encourage you to stop using Bonide? Here's a snippet from their label:

"This pesticide is extremely toxic to fish. Do not apply directly to water. Avoid contamination of ornamental fish ponds. Drifts and runoff from treated areas may be hazardous to aquatic organisms in treated areas. Do not contaminate water when disposing of equipment washwaters. This product is highly toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment on blooming crops or weeds. Do not apply this product or allow it to drift to blooming crops or weeds while bees are actively visiting the treatment area."

The part about bees is especially disconcerting, given the pressure bees are under these days.

Aphids can usually be controlled with a sharp water spray, which at least knocks them off the plants, and frequently kills them. They can also be controlled with insecticidal soap, which is much less harmful to the garden environment.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 5:50PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Since you're using Bonide, go ahead and spray it on the ornamental grass. Just do it when it's not covered with honeybees! Which shouldn't be a problem since ornamental grass doesn't seem to attract honeybees.
Seriously, if the ornamental grass is the only thing you get the spray on, everything environmentally will be fine. If you have any blooming plants or weeds, pull the weeds first, and use a big piece of cardboard to shield the blooming plants so that they don't get spray on them.
We've noticed aphids and spider mites happening on some of our ornamental grasses too and other miscellaneous things, even ones that don't usually attract pests are attracting them this year. Those little buggers can sniff out plants under stress I think. What a awful hot and dry summer!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2007 at 7:40AM
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I'm just as concerned about the environment as anyone, but there are times when chemicals have to be used. We're extremely careful when using the chemicals. Our Black Hills Spruce tree was almost eaten away by saw flies. Many of our flowers were badly eaten as well.

I'm aware of the issue with the bees and only apply when they're not active. The aphdis haven't been too bad on the ornamental grasses. Some of the grasses have leaf spot and/or disease. Webworms have eaten a lot of the leaves of my Moudry fountain grass.

Our grass collection continues to grow and there's now over 50 grasses in our garden.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 2:46PM
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