What is that bug crawling all over your plants and what you can do about it – Daily News

What is that bug crawling all over your plants and what you can do about it – Daily News

Leaf-footed insect (Leptoglossus zonatus) (Getty Images)

s. This insect, which I don’t recall ever seeing in more than 30 years of gardening in the northeastern San Fernando Valley, was all over my tomato plants last summer. My questions are: What is it and what are the conditions that led to it appearing in my garden? Am I likely to return this summer, and if so, are there any preventative measures I can take? What is the best way to eliminate it if it appears again?

This is a leaf-footed insect (Leptoglossus zonatus). It tends to appear on tomato plants and pomegranate trees. Adults are dark brown, about an inch long, with a narrow body and a slight sinuous band across the back. The hind legs are noticeable in that they have a strange structure that appears to have attached leaves (hence the name). They have a long, pointed mouthpart that enables them to pierce leaves, stems, or fruits and suck the plant’s sap. Most of the time, the damage is minimal, but it may kill young seedlings and destroy immature fruits. Damage to medium-sized or mature fruit is usually limited to minor superficial blemishes.

They like to lay their eggs either on the stems or along the central vein of the leaf. The eggs are cylindrical, medium brown, and arranged in a line so that they look like a string of small beads.

In most years, the population of these insects is small enough that they are not a problem. Mild winters, the presence of weeds (especially weed seeds), and the availability of cover (such as woodpiles) can increase the population. To keep the population low, control weeds and move woodpiles to a location away from the garden. Use row covers and hand picking to minimize damage. Insecticides are not very effective, so prevention is your best bet.

Question: About 40 years ago, I planted an ash tree (5 gallons) in my backyard. It has grown into a beautiful tree and is now about 25 feet tall. Every winter its leaves fall. Last year I did some major plumbing work and they had to cut some roots. This year there are hardly any leaves falling. Should I be worried about the health of this wonderful tree?

When a tree sustains root damage, either due to mechanical injury or gopher predation, it will sometimes show its displeasure by sending out numerous root suckers. If the damage is severe, the tree may drop its leaves and look generally unhappy (leaf wilting, stunted growth, numerous suckers).

Since you’re sure some roots are cut, your tree may just be frowning. Keep an eye out for more serious symptoms and be sure to make sure they don’t experience any water stress this summer. Remove any suckers that may appear. If the tree is healthy, those roots should grow back in no time.

Los Angeles County

mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu; 626-586-1988; http://celosangeles.ucanr.edu/UC_Master_Gardener_Program/

Orange County

ucceocmghotline@ucanr.edu; http://mgorange.ucanr.edu/

Riverside County

anrmgriverside@ucanr.edu; https://ucanr.edu/sites/RiversideMG/

San Bernardino County

mgsanbern@ucanr.edu; 909-387-2182; http://mgsb.ucanr.edu

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