Friday, June 20, 2008

Insect Invasion

(Photo by Kathie 6-20-08 @ 11:03 a.m. Nikon D80 with 18-70 mm lens)

I came home from shopping this morning to find my mesquite tree covered with these. I was filling the bird feeders when I first noticed them. It took a minute for it to register how many there were and then, to realize that they are devouring my velvet mesquite tree. I don't have any pesticides around the house because I refuse to use them . I don't want to poison my birds. I decided to try to wash them off the tree, so I grabbed the hose and sprayed away. Well, the hose knocked them off, but they just started crawling up the trunk again in hoards. There had to be at least a thousand of these pests, and they have already eaten the tender new leaves off the tree. I am afraid it will be denuded by evening.
(Photo by Kathie 6-20-08 @ 11:03 a.m. Nikon D80 with 18-70 mm lens)

Does anyone out there know what these are and if there is an eco-friendly way to get rid of them?
(Photo by Kathie 6-20-08 @ 11:03 a.m. Nikon D80 with 18-70 mm lens)

In the meantime, I am hoping that some species of birds likes to eat them for dinner and will swoop in here with biblical timing and devour the lot!


Update from Doug Taron:
Hi Kathie- I may not be able to ID your beetles myself, but I do have contacts. This is from my friend John who I was just collecting out in Colorado with:"They are spotted blister beetles, Epicauta sp., and they congregate like that during mating season. They will feed on the foliage and flowers but shouldn't defoliate the trees. They do more good than harm as the larvae are grasshopper egg predators/parasitoids and adults often are pollinators. Of course it goes without saying that she should not pick any of them up if she is highly sensitive to dermatitis since blister beetles are called that for a reason - their hemolymph contains strong irritants that will cause such." Wed Jun 25, 07:49:00 AM 2008

20 comments:

Lynne said...

I've no idea on the insect Kathie. Isn't it strange that they want to eat only that one tree? Good luck!

Kathiesbirds said...

Well, apparently my hosing off did some good because most of them seemed to have moved on, though there are still a few out there. I'm keeping watch and I'll keep you posted!

Naturegirl said...

Oh YUK!!

I don't know what they are but I do have a remedy that you can try that is eco friendly!
I used it on these horrible pests on my birch trees last summer and it worked!

"Organic all purpose pesticide:"
In a jar combine 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid and 1 cup vegetable oil.Shake vigorously .
In an empty spray bottle combine 2 teaspoons of this mixture and 1 cup water.
Use at ten day intervals (or more if needed )rids plants of whiteflies, mites, aphids, scales, and othe pests.

Worth a try!
Wishing you luck..let me know. NG

Kathiesbirds said...

Oh Nature Girl, Thank You! So far the waterblasting seems to have helped. The insects are gone, but I don't know if they will return. I will try your remedy!

bookbabie said...

Could be this...http://ag.arizona.edu/gardening/news/articles/15.1.html

kjpweb said...

Bookbabie seems to be right - it's some king of a Longhorned beetle - and there are borer subspecies.
Hope that the damage isn't too bad.
Cheers, Klaus

Kathiesbirds said...

Bookbabie, I followed that link and though I didn't find a picture I have seen some of the signs described in the article. I saw that waxy amber liguid dripping from various parts of my tree. It is newly planted as of last year and I can only imagine it may have become water streesed as I did not water it over the winter. I have been much more faithful in my watering habit this year and last weekend I left the hose running full force for 8 hours because I forgot about it! (I was blogging once again!) The tree got a really good drink that night! Perhaps all that uptake of water pushed the bugs out! Who knows. I just want my tree to live! I love it and the birds love it! Thanks for directing me to that link.

And thank you Klaus for your comment and confirmation also.

Baba said...

A true invasion that of these scrawl...
The better way to put an end to them without using pesticides, would be to obtain a pair or two of insectivorous birds that gave good account of them..., the pity is that this is not fàcil of achieving!
That be lucky and they do not too much damage!!!

bobbie said...

Don't know what they are, but they are awful! I'm glad to hear your hose got rid of most of them, and I hope your tree survives. So sad to see destruction like this.

The Texican said...

Might be "Humbugs". That organic mixture might not kill them, but it would cause them to slide off the tree. :)

Doug Taron said...

This is not from one of the groups that I am familiar with (there is not a lot of breadth in my beetle knowledge). I can tell you that it is neither a flathead borer (family Buprestidae) nor a longhorn beetle (family Cerambycidae). In addition to having the wrong appearance, both of those groups do damage as larvae, when they have bored inside of the trunk or branches of trees. Yours are eating the leaves.

I would recommend posting the middle photo to BugGuide.net. It's a good, detailed picture. If you put it in the ID Request section, odds are pretty good that someone will know what it is. I also don't think that the homemade insecticide will work here. It's great on soft-bodied insects, like aphids and scale. Beetles are pretty resilient to that sort of treatment.

Abraham Lincoln said...

I do visit and I do comment and I was here. I did look at your picture(s) and I did read what you wrote about them. I could say how great you are and how beautiful your work is but alas I would soon run out of things to say on the next blog I visited, so I just left this to prove I stopped and said a few words on Sunday. I don't know what they are either.

My Rheumatoid Arthritis hurts so I am using the same message for all.

zhakee said...

Glad the insects mosied elsewhere. For future reference:

The soap/oil mixture ought to work for all sorts of insect pests. The oil will coat the insect and plug up it's ability to breathe, if enough oil gets on the insect. Soap typically messes up soft bodied insects such as aphids. If you ever get insects crawling up a tree again, if you spread a sticky gooey substance on the tree trunk itself, in a narrow band circling the trunk, that should stop crawlers. You can buy a very sticky goo called "tanglefoot" from many nursery stores. Or you could try making your own.

With large bugs, using a vacuum on them might work,so long as they can't fly away. A powerful shop vac works pretty well. Lay a sheet on the ground below the bush, shake the bush, then suck up the fallen insects.

Kathiesbirds said...

All I can say is thank you everyone for your kind and hopeful words and helpful information.

I'll try that site, Doug.

Sorry your arthritis is hurting Abe.

Baba. welcome to my blog.

bobbie, the tree did survive. They only ate the tips!

Texican, I'll humbug them!

zhakee, Good info. I might try that next time. I did think of the gooey substance thing but I wasn't sure what to use or if it would hurt the tree. I don't want to kill the thing while trying to save it!

Once again, a big THANK YOU to everyone for your help and encouraging and empathetic words!

T.R. said...

The hair on my arms is at full mast - I love insects - but this is creepy-crawly at its best. Glad they moved on. Never thought of vacuuming -- but oh would pictures of that make for a good post.

Kathiesbirds said...

t.r. How true! You made me laugh!

Amy - "Twelve Acres" said...

Oh dear, I'll send my chooks over right away to take care of those nasty beetles! If it's any consolation, the June bugs did a lot of damage to my saplings this spring, but the beetle surge was over quickly and the trees just grew new leaves. Hang in there, the invasion won't last forever and mesquite trees are tough as nails.

Doug Taron said...

Hi Kathie-

I may not be able to ID your beetles myself, but I do have contacts. This is from my friend John who I was just collecting out in Colorado with:

"They are spotted blister beetles, Epicauta sp., and they congregate like that during mating season. They will feed on the foliage and flowers but shouldn't defoliate the trees. They do more good than harm as the larvae are grasshopper egg predators/parasitoids and adults often are pollinators. Of course it goes without saying that she should not pick any of them up if she is highly sensitive to dermatitis since blister beetles are called that for a reason - their hemolymph contains strong irritants that will cause such."

Kathiesbirds said...

Amy, I would love some chickens but Gus wouldn't go for that. Too bad. I don't think the HOA would either. (Darned HOA)!

Doug, wow, thanks for researching that for me. I hadn't gotten around to sending off that photo yet but was thinking of doing it today. That is amazing to hear that they are actually beneficial insects. I'll let them live and munch away on grasshoppers all they want. I didn't actually kill any the other day. I just water cannoned them in hopes that they would move on. Some of the tender leaf tips were eaten off, but the majority of the tree is still in good shape and should recover soon,no doubt. What an interesting nature lesson! BTW, no fear of me picking up unknown insects. My fear of getting bitten or stung is too great. I don't like that creepy crawly feeling they give me anyways.

bug farm ron said...

The oosing mesquite could be from flat head borers. They eat the cambium layer and kill the trees. Some organic controls would be spraying the bark with insect eating fungi like Beauvaria (Botanigard) or condidiobolus. Or use a stiff wire to open up the bore holes and inject an insect eating nematode like Heterorhabditis bacteriophora or Steinernema feltiae.