Aphids, Ladybugs, Woodpeckers, Death!

lilutzFebruary 15, 2012

Sometime last fall I noticed what I thought were aphids on my two pittosporum "trees" (they are both about 9' tall, with multiple trunks). I sprayed them and thought I solved the problem, although I noticed shortly after that that there were quite a few ladybugs on them. I didn't bother with them, mostly because I got busy, but I did notice that the trees started smelling REALLY, REALLY weird. An unpleasant, musty smell. It was very strong. They smelled like that for a good 2 months, and still do stink a little.

Anyway, a couple of months ago, I saw a woodpecker pecking away at the trunks of one of the trees. I've seen him out there at least 10 times since then, and, from the looks of the trunks, he's out there quite a bit. Lately I've also noticed that the trees aren't as full as they used to be, too, so today I took a better look, and it looks like at least one of the trunks is completely dead.

What's going on, and is there any hope for these trees?

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

First, lady beetles are a good predator that eat aphids for you. Spraying the aphids can kill them as well. The Asian lady beetle can emit a foul smelling liquid when disturbed. If that is the type of lady beetle you had, perhaps your spraying "disturbed" them, causing them to emit the stench. Next time you see lady beetles, allow them to do their job!
hortster

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 2:01PM
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lilutz

The lady beetles didn't seem to be too troubled by the spray, since I didn't actually see them until after that. But lesson learned, thanks!

Does any one have any advice on how to help my pittosporum?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 3:46PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Where do you live?

Are they in containers or the ground?

Any chance of pictures?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 8:42PM
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lilutz

I'm in Charleston, SC. THey are in the ground. I will try to take some pictures tomorrow!

    Bookmark   February 15, 2012 at 10:22PM
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lilutz

Here are some pictures. Please let me know if you are unable to see them.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.992890337854.2349081.21314780&type=3&l=15d4b25c18

Here is a link that might be useful: Pittosporum Pics

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 12:48PM
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lilutz

Just talked to my horticulturist friend. Looks like I've got a combo of sooty mold, scale and botrytis blight. At least now I know!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 2:49PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Did your friend some and see the plant in person? 'Cause I don't see any sign of scale or black sooty mold in the pictures. Scale insects are fairly common on Pitts. and I'd like to see a picture of them.

I've never heard of nor seen an incidence of botrytis on Pittosporum. They can, however, be very prone to several other diseases such as Phomopsis, Cersospora, Rhizoctonia, and something called Southern Blight (can't remember the Latin name). All of these diseases are introduced easily to a plant that undergoes such frequent pruning as yours and with as many Sapsucker injuries.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 5:29PM
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saccharum(z9 FL)

That's one case where I think that the sapsucker woodpecker damage is probably the primary issue. Unfortunately they are very difficult to discourage once they've chosen a tree to feed on.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 8:40PM
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lilutz

Rhizo, no she didn't see it in person. The sooty mold was there before (not now). She is giving me the systemic insecticide Safari to use, which I think covers many pests. Apparently, bortytis has been affecting the Pitts on the campus where we work. She says it has been affecting them since Hurricane Hugo (1989).

Saccharum,I wrapped the trunks in burlap today. Will that not help?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 10:47PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Burlap won't help at this point. The sapsucker damage is severe and has obviously caused lots of damage.

I still have doubts about botrytis being a problem. It's an air borne fungus and not that difficult to control. I was in the path of Hugo (I lived in Beaufort for over 20 years), and am well aware of some of the problems caused by the flooding. Phytophthora was a major disease issue for a long time. This fungal disorder is a soil borne disease and can be rampant when the soil stays saturated for long periods of time.

Botrytis is a fungal disease of the soft tissues of plants, usually non-woody plants. We see it on some vegetables, annuals, a few perennials, and on the flowers and new foliage of roses and a few other woody plants. It is also called Gray Mold. As I said, I have never observed it on Pittosporum. If I had, it would be on the flowers.

If I any say (which I don't), I'd like for you to have the problems identified properly before using Safari on this plant. From what I've seen and here, this pesticide won't be of any benefit at all and an environmental cost. The active ingredient in Safari is a neonicotinoid, a family of systemics that once absorbed by the plant, can be transported to the nectar and pollen of the flowers. This, of course, causes problems for pollinating insects which are highly attracted to the very fragrant blooms of pittosporum.

I'm curious as to what 'dredging the soil' means in regards to your plant. Perhaps you mean 'drenching'?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2012 at 11:38PM
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lilutz

Rhizo, your input is very important to me. Thank you so much. I will definitely have an expert come look at my situation before using the Safari. (Yes, drenching is what I meant. Thanks!) My parents live in Beaufort, and I have a very dear friend who is a landscape specialist (Jay Widener, do you know him?), who I would like to come up and look at them. I want to do this right, because these trees are very, very important to me. I have cared for them meticulously for years, and to see that I have let this happen to them is just killing me. I have also noticed some of the same kind of damage in my loquat trees, too. Oh, goodness, this is causing me so much grief!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 12:32AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Jay! You need to email me, lilutz! You'll find my address if you click on (My Page). I'm so excited.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 1:38PM
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