Phlox Bug had infected my plants. Long time readers know that I go to great lengths to insure that that horrid life sucking bug never gets another toe hold in my garden...But, it did.
It's my practice to let the garden go to seed and stand all winter. (A Garden Cleanup Reminder) The seed heads and stalks of native plants provide winter interest and hiding places for the critters who live and visit my garden. But, I never, ever, ever leave the stalks of Phlox paniculata. Trashing the dead leaves and stalks is an essential first line defense against the Phlox Plant Bug. But, in a garden like mine, where rough and tumble plants do their plant thing~set seed and make offspring all over the place~it's easy to over look a few stalks.
Why trash the stalks? That's where the Phlox bugs over winter! They emerge in the spring and wreck havoc on the plants.* So, this spring when they showed up in the garden, I went on a hunt and seek mission smashing every one of the little red buggers. They're fast, but, I was faster. I also chopped the infected plants down and disposed of the stalks in the trash (never in the compost pile).
** Lopidea davisi is a plant juice/sap sucking insect that feeds mainly on perennial phlox. This is not a pest to ignore. I found out the hard way! They can form dense populations and suck the life juices (sap) out of your plants. The clever little adults lay white-colored eggs in the fall in the stems of the plant, behind the leaf petioles. The eggs overwinter and nymphs emerge in early May. Two or more generations could develop in a season.
Top photo is P 'Laura'
Second photo is P 'Peppermint Twist'
Bottom photo is P 'David'
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.