The 3M’s – Mites, mealybugs and migraines!

Thanks to my fellow Plant Doctor Kelley for this title. This time of year, after weeks of summer heat, the bugs are really going to town. Sometimes it seems that I’m not even looking at the crops hard enough for as much as I search, it seems there is always something the “blows up” overnight. Small infestations that can easily be missed will turn into a mess in less than a week. My schedule has me visiting each farm once a week, with some time set aside to make a second visit if I see problems starting. Most of the time you can tell if a pest issue isn’t going to take care of itself and you need to order up a spray. In the spring, many times you can let nature take it’s course and allow the “good” bugs to control the “bad” bugs. But it seems in the summer the pest just multiply so fast that natural predation just can’t keep up. And, it is hard for us humans to keep up as well. When it comes to spraying pesticide, I admit I a minimalist. Sometimes that can get me into trouble as I look at a pest infestation just beginning and I say, “well, I’ll look at that in a few days and make a decision then”. Most of the time though, in the summer, you just have to bite the bullet and clean things up before they clean you out! It is not hard to see the problems the mites are cause when you drive around as you can see the trees turning brown and the vines “burning” up in spots. Seems like everyone is having a problem with mites this time of year.

Mealybugs in the grapes is another problem as they are hard to find and sneak up on you. Once you have some spots found and marked to keep an eye on, other spots pop up in elsewhere. Sometimes it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It is challenging and fun at times. But when the heat is over 100 degrees and the irrigation make it very humid, the fun turns old real fast. (thanks to UCIPM for the photos)

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