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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Poor Growth of Lantana Due to Grubs

Q. This season our Lantana has done poorly. For each plant we dig up there appears a bunch of grubs. What's going on?

A. Nice detective work! I would not have guessed this was the problem if you had just sent me a picture of a dying lantana. These guys are decomposers normally and people will find them in their compost piles.
Green june beetle which attacks soft fruit like figs
But these critters will also feed on small, living roots. In large numbers they can cause alot of damage or even death. In small numbers and feeding on roots the plant might appear normal with no apparent damage. The dose makes the poison!
One of the chafers or June bugs they are sometimes called
These are the immature of one of the scarab beetles such as June beetles, metallic June beetles, dung beetles and rose chafers which we have here. Another one that attacks lawn grasses is the "white grub" or sometimes just called "grubs".
One very famous and devastating scarab is the Japanese beetle which we have not yet seen in southern Nevada. 
When you find these immature larva feeding in one localized area around a living plant it is a very good sign they are feeding on it.
They are fairly easy to kill with insecticides such as the conventional insecticide Sevin used as a soil drench or organically using a treatment of bacterial spores. It is marketed under different trade names but if you look in the insect control section of your favorite nursery or garden center you should be able to find it.
Frequently the bacterial spores are referred to as "milky spore" insecticide. There are also nematode good guys that you can apply. I am not sure it is carried in Las Vegas but certainly over the internet.

1 comment:

  1. There are nematodes for grubs available around Vegas. Getting them direct is usually better, if packed with a cold pack, and delivered overnight. Plant World on W. Charleston carries them. The last pack I got was there a couple days before I picked up, but they are shipped overnight and on cold packs, and Plant World refrigerates on arrival. I always call ahead to see when there next delivery is so I know they are fresh, and I never order, pick up or have them delivered in summer because a few hours on a UPS truck can kill of a good amount of them. I order and apply them to the soil after the soil begins to warm in spring and nights are consistently above 40 degrees, I suppose you could try a similar window in fall after the nights begin to cool, but leave yourself a long window before frost danger so they can get to work, and bury themselves deep enough to protect from the cold. Had a real problem with grubs, and after 2 seasons of spring applications I have noticed a HUGE reduction in plant death, summer water stress, and grub population. Signed - Pahrump Gardener