The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly (fka The Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly)

Spiraling Whitefly

Image courtesy of UF IFAS extension

Hold on to your hats Florida – we have another bug to fight: The Rugose Limbo Spiraling Whitefly!

Sadly, this is a new kind of whitefly and should not be confused with the Ficus Whitefly that has been causing havoc with ficus in South Florida. This new Spiraling Whitefly appears to be less particular, feasting on everything from palm trees to fruits. There has not been much biology collected on this little pest as it was seen for the first time in March 2009 (from gumbo limbo, hence its former name), but University of Florida’s IFAS Extension is monitoring the spread and will hopefully have more information as time goes by.

 

Identification
Larger than other whiteflies, this species is slower too. They congregate on the underside of leaves and lay eggs in spiral patterns. The whitefly leaves an “abundance of the white, waxy material covering the leaves and also excessive sooty mold. Like other similar insects, these whiteflies will produce honeydew, a sugary substance, which causes the growth of sooty mold.” (UF IFAS extension). PALM has seen this mold on palm leaves overhanging pools, and causing damage to the pool. UF mentions that it has also been seen to cause damage to cars should it fall on the roof.

Management

There are two ways to manage this pest: insecticides and biologically-based management, i.e. other bugs (parasitoid) that will attack the fly. It is important to balance both methods carefully as the parasitoid cannot attack the whitefly fast enough to save your plants, but insecticides could kill the parasitoid, which will make your life harder in the long run.

The first step is to monitor your plants. The fly will propagate quickly, so finding the symptoms before you have a full-blown infestation will help to overcome the issue. Nearby trees and plants should also be carefully assessed for damage and signs of the fly.

If you suspect the fly has found its way on to one of your plants, insecticidal soap can be enough to rid you of the fly. But you need to be sure to soak the plant well and wipe off all of the leaves. Obviously, this method is only effective before the fly has spread to more than one plant.

If you see the whitefly in more than one spot, use one of the insecticides listed below. We recommend a good dousing of the insecticide, but should you find it necessary to spray more than once, we recommend you switch to a different class of insecticide for the second spraying. Any kind of insecticide can be detrimental to your environment, as well as the environment at large, so hopefully one good spraying will be sufficient.

If you have the whitefly and can’t rid yourself of it, or don’t know where to start, you know who does? That’s right – Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance! Give us a call or drop us an email: (954) 938-1999 or
Admin@PalmAtlanticLandscape.com

Whitefly insecticides

Pretty Plants that will deter mosquitoes

Mosquito Season

It’s mosquito season and I for one hate rubbing DEET all over myself, not to mention my kids. And jumping in and out of the pool, the sprays can’t stay on anyway. The other common choice, Citronella in the form of candles, is a little less gruesome because it’s not all over me, but for that same reason, it’s not as effective. But there is a third solution that isn’t stinky or greasy and is even more effective because it deters the bugs for the season not just the day. What is it? Well, the best way to ramp up your repellent is to plant it, and just because the mosquitoes hate these plants, doesn’t make them repellent to humans. In fact, there are some beautiful and useful options.

Before I get into the list, it’s worth mentioning that any standing water areas (especially stagnant water, like old fountains, old planting pots, etc.) are like the Hilton of Mosquito World. Get rid of water as much as possible before starting your planting war against bugs.

For more info on catnip, visit catnipexpert.com

1. Catnip

Catnip has been found to be ten times more repellent to the bugs than DEET! The essential oil in the catnip is the same oil that attracts cats and drives them bonkers! Luckily it’s not so potent that you’ll end up with no mosquitoes, but the whole neighborhood’s cat population in your yard! To drive the cats crazy you need to smash the leaves (store bought catnip is dried leaves crushed). Strangely, catnip is a butterfly and bumble bee attractor, so you get the best of all worlds with this plant.

Catnip is good to grow in Zones 3 and 4, so for those of us in the south, catnip will only survive if we plant it in pots and keep it somewhat shaded and watered. If you are growing from seeds, keep cats away until it’s hardy enough to withstand being rubbed!

 

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

2. Rosemary

Rosemary can grow into massive bushes with pretty purple flowers. It’s hardy, but doesn’t like being in cold weather or inside, which makes it perfect for summer bug season. Keep it near the barbecue and it can work double duty by seasoning your meat (Lamb and rosemary skewers anyone?) and keeping you bug bite free too!

 

 

Lemon Balm - found at plantoftheweek.org

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is not quite as pretty as Rosemary (it looks kind of weedy, a little bit like mint), but it gives off a lemony scent (who’da thunk?) that is sweet and not too strong… and mosqitoes seem to hate it! There are a ton of different recipes using lemon balm so it’s just as useful as rosemary. This lavender lemonade recipe sounds so good after a day of lying in the sun or lazing by the pool.

 

Thyme - taken from home.howstuffworks.com

4. Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb, loved in Greek food and this idea alone conjurs up images of Santorini with cool breezes and tomatoes with feta cheese drenched in oil and vinegar. Nowhere in my imagining is there a mosquito biting my ankle.

Thyme does have a pretty scent which is a little stronger than the previous plants I mentioned, so you might want to use it sparingly, or plant it further away (think perimeter of your property) with the previous plants closer to your home. Yet again, thyme is a hardy plant. It likes warmer weather and full sun (all of these plants are perfect for summers, but may not last the winter in a colder climate.)

Thyme is pretty – it looks like lavender with little purple flowers.

Garlic plant. Image from thedailygreen.com

5. Garlic

Mosquitoes are vampires, vampires hate garlic therefore mosquitoes hate garlic. That’s logic right?

Garlic is not necessarily the prettiest of plants, and is probably the hardest to grow out of this list, but it has more health benefits and possibly more use than any of the others too.

 

 

Guest Post: 8 Beautiful Flowers That Can Kill You

Our good friend Isabell Davila from flowerdelivery.net wrote this great post about dangerous flowers and allowed us to repost it here. Please check out her flower delivery website for more posts and some beautiful flowers.

Many things in nature are beautiful, yet deadly. When it comes to flowers, this can be particularly true, as some species are poisonous and even fatal to humans. Since gardening is a favorite hobby of millions worldwide, we should be very careful in choosing which flowers to beautify our surroundings, as there may be much more than meets the eye. Here are some alluring flowers that just so happen to be poisonous and can actually kill you.

  1. Aconitum Napellus (Wolf’s Bane)

    This common garden plant contains a deadly cardiac poison that was once used on the tips of spears and arrows for hunting during ancient times. Ingestion of even small amounts of aconitine, the primary toxin in the flower, results in severe gastrointestinal upset. However, what kills you is the effect it has on the heart, slowing it down until it eventually stops.

  2. Echium plantagineum (Purple Viper’s Bugloss)

    This vibrant purple flower is grown around the world and belongs to the Echium family. Unfortunately, the plants contain toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which are poisonous even to large animals. One teaspoon of honey from the plant is above the recommended weekly minimum intake of these chemicals in humans and can be highly toxic in high quantities.

  3. Nerium oleander

    One of the most toxic plants in the world just so happens to have an elegant, sweet scent and appearance. Nearly every part of the plant and flower, from its stem to its sap, is extremely poisonous if ingested. The blossom is so dangerous that even the honey gathered by bees using oleander nectar is poisonous. The toxins from the Oleander flower causes an irregular heart rate in humans – causing our hearts to race, then drop to a dangerous level, until the heart stops beating altogether. Campers should be cautious when roasting food over an open fire, as there have been reports of inadvertent poisonings that result from inhaling the smoke from a burning Oleander.

  4. Castor Oil Plant

    Named the most poisonous plant in the world according to the Guinness Book of World Records, just one milligram of the plant’s poison can kill a healthy adult. Its flowering seeds contain alkaloid ricin, which is more toxic than common cyanides. What’s even scarier is that this toxin has the ability to accumulate in an organism until the lethal dose is reached. Symptoms first include nausea and vomiting, then bloody diarrhea, fever, seizures, and finally a collapse resulting in death. Its seed, which is the castor bean, is known to be lethal in adults, if consumed in quantities from four to eight seeds.

  5. Daphne mezereum

    Also called lady laurel or paradise plant, every part of this beautiful plant is poisonous. The pink or purple flowers bloom in early spring before it gains it woody deciduous appearance with bright red berries. The bark, sap, and berries hold the greatest toxic concentration, including Mexerine, an acrid resin resulting in intense skin irritations, and Daphnine, a bitter glycoside. Combined, these two toxins will cause convulsions, delirium, headaches, diarrhea, and other not-so-pleasant reactions. If you ingest a berry, you could fall into a deep coma and die.

  6. Latana camara

    Widely found in the summer landscape of the tropics, beautiful yellow, orange, and pink flowers often obscure its deathly properties found in its green berries. Triterpenes, the poison found in its berries, is a precursor to steroids, which may cause muscle weakness and lead to a circulatory collapse.

  7. Atropa belladonna (Deadly nightshade)

    Though the name of the species comes from Latin, meaning a “pretty woman,” its bell-shaped violet blossoms and cherry-like fruit make it an overall attractive plant. However, when ingested, it may cause delirium and hallucinations. Fatal amounts of 10 to 20 berries or a single leaf of the plant can be deadly. Your symptoms including blurred vision, rashes, and a fast or slowed pulse, all leading up to a fatal convulsion.

  8. Rhododendron (Azaleas)

    Almost anyone is familiar with an Azalea flower; it’s one of the most popular types of flowering shrubs in the entire world. However, the nectar produced by Azalea flowers contains a grayanotoxin, known as “mad honey,” which is lethal in humans but harmless to bees. As a rule of thumb, Azaleas are nice to look at, but it’s not a good idea to chew on an Azalea flower.

It’s Spring! Here come the egg bearing bunnies!

Spring has sprung and in south Florida, it’s a joyous time of year! The weather is glorious, there’s no other word for it. Not too hot to sit outside, but hot enough to start enjoying popsicles and sand boxes! In just a few weeks, your yard could be crawling with little children searching for eggs, so we’d better take a look at what we need to do in April before those eggs are hidden! [Read more…]

Why choose indigenous plants

Many people, when deciding on plants and trees for their yard, choose those that offer to fulfill whatever needs they might have: shade or smell for example. Some might choose a bush that attracts butterflies or blooms with beautiful flowers, but often whether the plant is native to your area is overlooked.

Why is it important to choose indigenous plants?

The native acacia tortuosa

[Read more…]

Pythons are invading the Everglades. Are we in danger and what can we do?

Pythons have been a growing problem in the Everglades. They are a non native species (like parrots??), mostly Burmese Pythons derived from Asia. They tend to thrive in the Everglades because the ecosystem is perfect for them – they love wetlands, the temperatures are high, the human population is low and stays away from them and the wildlife provides plenty of food for them.

A Burmese Python can grow to 20 feet long and have weighed in as much as 250 pounds. “Pythons can live up to 35 years and have anywhere from eight to 100 eggs, with the average female reproducing every other year. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands now in the Everglades.” (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2012/01/burmese-pythons-invading-the-everglades/) [Read more…]

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