East Bay Nursery
The Bay Area's Place for Plants
2332 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
510.845.6490
Open: Tues - Sat 8:30-5:00; Closed Sun & Mon
2332 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
510.845.6490
Open: Tues - Sat 8:30-5:00; Closed Sun & Mon
 
 

Common Insects

These are the most common insects our customers ask for assistance with. If you can not identify your problem insect from this page please bring a sample to us. Include the insect and pieces of damaged leaves, stems, and/or flowers. We find the I.P.M. (Integrated Pest Management) site from UC Davis very useful as well.

Aphids

These tiny (1/8 inch long), green, brown, black, white, or pink insects are among the most common in any garden. Small populations do little to no damage in the garden and can be easy to control with a spray of water from the hose. However, when conditions are favorable, the population can explode overnight. Large populations can suck enough juice from the plant to cause leaves and flowers to deform, turn yellow, and/or drop. Secondary problems often follow aphid infestations. Aphids excrete a sugary substance which attracts ants. The ants in turn "farm" the aphids, infesting new parts of the plant or garden. This same sugary excretion also falls to the lower leaves and becomes a site for Sooty Mold to grow, giving the plant a black, dirty appearance. Aphids can also transmit diseases from plant to plant.

Controls:

For small infestations control by spraying the plant with a strong stream of water. Larger infestations can be controlled organically with Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil, or insecticides containing Pyrethrins. For infestations in very large trees we carry systemic insecticides.

Snails and Slugs

Evidence of these pests include elongated holes in leaves, partially eaten flowers, and shiny silvery tracks left on the leaf and stem surfaces. Snail damage varies from caterpillar damage in that the holes appear primarily in the centers of the leaves, not along the edges or leaf margins. Slug damage also appears in the center of the leaves but typically the papery tissue of the back leaf surface still remains. These pests are most active at night or on cool, overcast days. During sunny or hot days, they hide in cool, damp areas in the garden, under pots, or in groundcover.

Controls:

Since these pests are not fast moving, nighttime harvesting is easily done. For those that would rather not handle the slimy pests, we carry Sluggo, a very effective, pet friendly, OMRI (Organic Materials Research Institute) approved organic control for slugs and snails. We also carry Sluggo Plus which also controls earwigs, pill bugs, and the like. Sluggo Plus however is not as pet friendly. Other organic solutions include beer traps, protecting critical areas with copper mesh, and diatomaceous earth.

Thrips

These very small (1/25th inch), white or yellow bodied insects with brown or black wings are barely visible. These insects feed by rasping through the plant tissues and sucking the cell sap that is released. Signs of their presence are typified by bleached and flecked foliage which has a silvery-tan coloration. Small, black, sticky excretions are also very typical. Infestation on flower or leaf buds will cause malformation or bud death. In our warmer climate, it is not uncommon to find this insect on the plant nearly year round. Unchecked or controlled infestations can severely stunt or even kill the plant.

Controls:

These insects are easier to prevent than control. On occasion, spray down the foliage of the shrubs and small trees in your garden with a stream of water. This will keep the plant free from dirt, dust, and control exploding populations. Infestations can be controlled organically with Insecticidal Soap, Neem Oil, or insecticides containing Pyrethrins or Spinosad. Several applications will be needed in 7-10 day intervals. For infestations in very large trees we carry systemic insecticides.

Spider Mites

This family of mites are major pests in both the home and garden. They suck the sap from the leaves and buds causing discoloration and malformation. Evidence of their presence usually includes yellow stippling, a dusty or dirty appearance to the leaf, and the presence of fine web like material on the underside of the leaves. The most common mites attack plants that are in hot, dry conditions which have little air movement.

Controls:

Often you can prevent infestation of your house plants by increasing the air flow and humidity levels around your plants. This means opening a window and misting your plants. Outdoors, you can do the same thing by thinning your plants and occasionally hosing down your plants. If your plants become infested, you can control them organically with the use of horticultural oil and Neem Oil. If using other chemical sprays be sure they are listed for mites, many insecticides are be effective in controlling spider mites.

White Fly

These small, white, four winged "flies" can cause yellow mottling in leaves. Both the pinhead sized larvae and the adults feed by sucking the sap from the cells on the undersides of the leaves. Typically, you will first notice the white flies when they take flight as you brush against or move the plant. This is another insect that excretes a sugary substance that will collect on the lower leaves and become a host for sooty mold.

Controls:

Control can be accomplished organically with Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil, and Pyrethrins. There are also sticky pheromone traps that will attract and capture these insects.

Mealy Bugs

These small, yellowish green to brown insects produce a white, cottony looking, protective, waxy coat that makes them similar in appearance to Cottony cushion Scale and Woolly Apple Aphids. They congregate in the branch crotches, along the stems, under the leaves, and on soft new growth. Heavy infestations can cause new growth to emerge deformed; eventually, they can kill small plants and portions of larger plants. The excretions of these insects are high in sugar. This sugary excretion also falls to the lower leaves and becomes a site for Sooty Mold to grow, giving the plant a black, dirty appearance.

Controls:

Control of these insects is best done with a combination of horticultural oil and Spinosad, or Neem Oil.

Scale

There are as many different types of scale as there are plants that host them. They can be found on the stems and branches, undersides of leaves, or on the trunks of young trees and shrubs. These small, soft bodied insects emerge form their eggs in spring to mid summer. These crawlers find a satisfactory place on the plant and make it their home. They pierce the cells and feed on the sap. Soon after settling in, their legs atrophy and they develop a hard shell of waxy material over their backs. This makes them immobile. Secondary problems often follow scale infestations. Scales excrete a sugary substance which attracts ants. The ants in turn "farm" the Scale and infest new parts of the plant or garden. This same sugary excretion also falls to the lower leaves and becomes a site for Sooty Mold to grow, giving the plant a black, dirty appearance

Controls:

The waxy layer which covers these insects also protects them from insecticides. Use a horticultural oil or Neem to control the adult populations throughout the year.

Ants

Ants will find their way into any nook or cranny in your home or garden. They invade your home looking for water during dry periods. They move about the garden carrying a variety of insects from plant to plant as they "farm" them for food. Some take up residence in your fence posts or other wood structure. Believe it or not, ants do provide some benefits in the garden; they are the cleaning crew of the insect world. Is it worth it? You make the call.

Controls:

A natural control for ants is Diatomaceous Earth. The most effective controls, ant bait sticks or traps, are the ones that you do not see immediate results for because the poison is carried back to the nest where it is shared with the entire colony. We carry Terro brand traps which we feel are incredible effective while being the most environmentally friendly. If controlling ants indoors, be sure that the product is registered for that purpose.


Loopers, Leaf Rollers, and other Catapillars

This heading is inclusive of a very large and broad family of insects. Caterpillars are voracious eaters capable of devouring several times their weight in foliage or flowers as you watch. Typically they cause damage along the edges or margins of leaves or petals. Some will eat from the center of the leaf but damage usually begins along a fold or sharp bend in the leaf. Caterpillars are the larvae of butterflies and moths; therefore, control is not always desired. Know the identity of your pest before controlling them. .

Controls:

One of the easiest controls to use for any leaf eating caterpillar is either BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) or Spinosad. BT is a bacteria that, when consumed by the caterpillar, causes death while remaining harmless to wildlife, insects, and the environment. Spinosad is more broad spectrum effecting many more insects, both beneficial and detrimental. Hand picking is another viable option as a natural control. This may need to be done at night as some types are nocturnal. Insecticides containing pyrethrins can also be very effective in controlling these undesired pests.