Picture The Pest
Broad Mites on tomatoes
Bronze orange bugs
Brown rust mite
Bud mites
Cabbage white butterfly
Case Moth
Caterpillars (General control)
Cluster Caterpillar
Codling Moth
Crinum Grubs
Curl Grubs
Cycad Blue Butterfly
Dendrobium beetle
Erinose mite
Fig leaf beetle
Fruit Fly
Fruit piercing moth
Funnel Ants
Gall Wasp on citrus
Green Vegetable Bug
Harlequin Bugs
Herbicide Damage
Hibiscus Beetle
Lantana Bugs
Lawn Grubs
Ladybeetle (Twenty-eight spotted
Leaf Miner
Leaf Miner on citrus

Looper caterpillar

Longicorn Beetles
Mealy Bugs

Mole cricket
Orchard swallowtail butterfly
Pimple psyllids on lillypilly
Rat Damage
Red shoulder leaf beetles
Red spider Mite
Root Knot nematoades
Russet mite
Sawfly Larvae
Scale on Grass trees
Scale on roses
Seychelles Soft Scale
Snails & Slugs
Sod web worm moth
Spined Citrus Bug
Tea Mite
Webbing caterpillars
White Flies
Some ants have a symbiotic relationship with many species including aphids, scale and mealy bugs. They defend colonies of these insects; move them from plant to plant and use the honeydew these insects secrete as a food source. Gardeners in the tropics often tolerate colonies of green ants in trees because they defend their nests so fiercely, they rid trees of beetles, caterpillars and other pests.

General strategies for ant control include applying horticultural glue around the base of trees followed by spraying the tops of trees with an oil spray to control aphids, scale, mealy bugs. Borax is a stomach poison traditionally used as ant bait. Mix equal parts borax with icing sugar, jam or honey for ants attracted to sweetness and with pet food for ants attracted to meat. These baits are also used to kill cockroaches. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Organic products include products based on diatomaceous earth. Commercial ant powders are often based on permethrin.

Funnel antsFunnel antsFunnel Ants
Funnel-shaped holes surround by mounds of soil often indicate funnel ant (Aphaenogaster species) nests. Pasture funnel ants and forest funnel ants are the most common in Australia. They spend much of their life below ground, feeding on secretions of root mealy bugs, scale and plant root exudates. In the evening, particularly after rainfall or watering, the small worker ants carrying soil to the surface often guarded by larger soldier ants.

Control is difficult because of the extensive network of tunnels and numerous chambers. Apply permethrin during the evening when ants are active. Leave undisturbed for at least a week. Retreat as necessary. Neem oil combined with a wetting agent applied as a thorough soaking drench can reduce funnel ant numbers. Reapply every four-six weeks. Licensed pest control operators use persistent termite control chemicals on funnel ants.

Aphids on rosesBlack Chive AphidsAphids
These sucking insects attack soft new growth. Aphids are almost exclusively female, do not require males for breeding and give birth to prodigious numbers of live young. They appear in plague proportions when conditions are mild, but disappear just as quickly in extremes of temperature. Spring sees an explosion in aphid populations, but hot weather and windy conditions are enough to dispatch them. Plants with increased uptake of nitrogen (due to fertilizer application or increased rainfall) are more susceptible to attack.
(Pictured left: black chive aphids, right: aphids on roses)

Reduce plant susceptibility by changing the nutritional balance of the soil – increase levels of calcium, magnesium, silica and potash. Soap or oil sprays see [homemade remedies-Oil Spray], dusting with wood ash or a strong jet of water can help to reduce numbers. Retreatment may be necessary. Beneficial ladybeetles and their larvae prey on aphid colonies.

Bean flyBean Fly
Bean fly (Ophiomyia phaseoliare) are small black flies that are a major pest of edible beans. It is important to protect plants from planting stage. Flies are attracted to freshly sown bean seeds and young seedlings, often waiting days for new bean plants to emerge from the soil. Look for entry points in bean stems. Beans fail or fall over up to a month after planting as eggs hatch into larvae that tunnel into stems. Flies also lay eggs on foliage leaving them the covered in small, white spots. These larvae tunnel into leaf petioles and stems. Plants that are attacked late in the growing cycle are not worth saving.

Once you have had this pest it is likely that it will attack future crops. Do not plant successive crops of beans next to one another or next to other legumes. Clean any local pea/bean weeds as they support fly populations. Plant beans during late autumn and winter in the tropics and subtopics. Hill compost and soil up around bean seedlings to protect stems or use paper cylinders or small pots or recycled containers with the bottoms cut out as a protective sleeve around each seed/seedling. Mulch plants. Use exclusion netting over beans. Snake beans are somewhat less susceptible to bean fly and can be planted in spring and summer.

Borer in MurrayaBorer in citrusBorer
Borer is a term that describes the damage done to plants by various insects including beetle and moth larvae. A wide range of trees and shrubs are susceptible, particularly those stressed by drought and lack of nutrients. Entire limbs can appear to die overnight. Look for evidence of sawdust-like frass or oozing sap as indications of active larvae.

Where limbs remain green it may be possible to skewer grubs with thin wire or to syringe oil-based compounds into borer holes. Seal these wounds with biodynamic tree paste (link), clay or wood putty. In most instances, you will need to prune the affected limb back below the point of borer activity. The diatomaceous earth in biodynamic tree paste is effective at preventing borer attack. Assist plants to recover by alleviating stressful conditions.

Broad mites on tomatoesBroad Mite
Broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus) is a major pest of tomatoes, capsicum, chilli and eggplant and many other plants. New foliage is distorted, stunted and often thickened. Plants fail to develop and fruit poorly. Discolouration and fruit distortion are common. If plants are small, dispose of them and start again. Freeze seed for 48 hours prior to sowing. Use gloved hands to carefully press cold fire ash or garden lime/dolomite lime on the upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems (without throwing it in the air; breathing it in; or coating the soil surface). Both are alkaline and dehydrating. Ash treatment is particularly effective on vegetables and tomatoes. Retreat as often as necessary. [See Mites

Bronze orange bugs life cycleBronze Orange Bugs
Bronze orange bugs (also known as stink bugs) The tiny green eggs of these sucking insects lay dormant in cold weather, emerging as green nymphs when temperatures rise. They change colour to yellow, then to orange and have a distinctive black spot on their backs. Mature insects are dark brown to black. They cluster in groups on new growth and flower and fruit stems, feeding through a sucking proboscis. This causes new growth to die back and flowers and developing fruit to drop. You can often detect the presence of bronze orange bugs by their smell.

If picking them off by hand, wear gloves and eye protection. These bugs secrete a caustic, acrid substance. Use a leaf blower or an old vacuum cleaner to suck them off. Oil sprays are effective at egg and nymph stages, but must applied so as to come in direct contact with the insects. Sprays based on teatree oil and/or eucalyptus including Eco-Grub control help control heavy infestations.

Brown Rust Mite (Phyllocoptruta oleivora)
Brown rust mites are particularly problematic on citrus, especially oranges. Symptoms of infestation are varied and include loss of leaf colour, drying and cupping of foliage, rusty foliage and fruit discolouration, distorted growth and rind hardening on citrus. Bronze mite infestation maybe confused with melanose disease of citrus which has similar appearance. Affected fruit are still able to be eaten. Seasonal applications of oil sprays applied thoroughly to all parts of the plant will keep brown rust mite infestations under control. [See mites]
Bud mite damage on citrusDeformed Citrus due to MitesBud Mite
Distorted citrus flowers and fruit often indicate blooms infested with bud mites (most likely Eriophyyes sheldoni). Wettable sulphur or oil sprays can be used as a preventative, but once flowers and young fruit have been affected the damage is already done and flowers and fruit should be removed. Fruit left on the tree will develop, but will be distorted. Spray preventatively when flower buds first form if trees have been affected in past seasons. If large numbers of maggot-like larvae are found in developing flowers, suspect the native citrus blossom midge (lemons are particularly susceptible). Remove damaged flowers and treat as for bud mite. [See mites]

Cabbage white butterflyCabbage White Butterfly
Cabbage white butterflies (Pieris rapae) are day-flying insects that their eggs on members of the cabbage family (broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, rocket, Asian greens etc). Crops planted outside in all but the coldest months are susceptible. Caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly recognizable by their distinctive bright green colour, but on vegetables, this camouflaged makes them hard to spot. Install fake female cabbage white butterflies (DIY or store bought) used as fluttering, decoy butterflies discourage real butterflies from laying eggs. For more control options General control options for caterpillars. Cabbage white butterfly is often confused with the cabbage moth (Plutella xylostella). Damage and controls are similar. Image of multiple caterpillars on a kale leaf plus one of butterfly.

Case mothCase Moth
Case moth Case or bag moth is the name given to a number of different related moths that build elaborate bag-like structures to hide in during their caterpillar stage. The case is typically leathery with small sticks and leaves cleverly woven together. The head emerges from one end of the nest to feed on plant foliage, but retreats into its protective cover whenever threatened. It pupates in the nest and ultimately turns into an adult moth. The image here shows the size of the caterpillar when the bag has been carefully cut open with scissors. These insects are a great curiosity, but rarely do enough damage to warrant action. Various species of Ichneumon wasps prey on case moth larvae.

Caterpillar enjoying a tomatoCaterpillars
Caterpillars are the larval stage of moths and butterflies. Few gardeners worry about a couple of chewed leaves if it means they can enjoy butterflies. However, there are around 20 times more moth species in Australia than butterflies and many moths are imported pests responsible for significant damage to ornamental and edible plants.

General control options for caterpillars:
Inspect and hand pick off egg clusters and young caterpillars regularly; encourage beneficial insects including predatory wasps; use exclusion netting to keep moths and butterflies from landing and laying eggs; apply molasses or chilli sprays;
[refer to 'homemade remedies']. Use a recycled hose end connected applicator containing molasses spray for shrubs and large trees. Use insect zapping lights during the evening when night-flying moths are active. Apply commercial Bacillus thuringiensis sprays (BT/Dipel). Pheromone lures for monitoring some moth species are available from Bugs for Bugs. See specific caterpillar types for further control options.

Cluster caterpillarCluster Caterpillar
These caterpillars are the larvae of nocturnal, beige/brown-coloured moths (Spodoptera species). They are major pests of a wide range of crops. Other common names including oriental leafworm moth, cotton leafworm/cutworm, rice cutworm, tobacco budworm/cutworm, tropical armyworm and taro caterpillar. Larvae colours and patterns vary with age, but all stages are voracious feeders that cluster in gregarious groups. Eggs and larvae can lay dormant and appear rapidly after rain. Multiple generations of moth eggs are laid in one season. For control options see [General control options for caterpillars].

Codling moth damageBag fruit to prevent codling moth damageCodling Moth
Codling moth (Cydia pomenella) is associated with pome fruit like apples, pears and quinces. The moth lays its eggs prior to flowering. They hatch into larvae that tunnel into young fruit. They eat out the fruit, emerging when they are ready to pupate. The lifecycle continues beneath the tree in leaf litter or in cracks and crevices in the bark.

Control eggs and young larvae prior to flowering with oil sprays, BT, pyrethrum sprays; physically protect fruit with bags (ensure larvae are not already inside); collect and catch pupating larvae via trunk collars that act as pupa collecting places or with sticky barriers; install pheromone traps. Collect any infected fruit and feed it to livestock or put in buckets then fill with boiling water. Leave overnight before hot composting. Trigogramma wasps and pathogenic nematodes are used for commercial control. Image Apple with codling moth damage and tree of bagged fruit

Crinum grub damage on liliesCaterpillar DamageCrinum Grubs (lily caterpillars)
These tiny caterpillars (Spodoptera picta) burrow into the leaves, stems and bulbs of crinum lilies, hippeastrum, clivia, agapanthus, autumn crocus and other bulb plants eventually eating out the succulent heart of the plant. Any of the plant that remains usually rots due to disease. Young caterpillars have black and white stripes, but mature caterpillars develop yellow stripes. The larvae sequester alkaloids from bulb plants to use as part of their own defence making them unpalatable to predators. The adult is a medium-sized brown and cream moth.
Crinum grubs between the leaf layersClear away any old foliage. Thoroughly check all foliage and squash caterpillars hidden within leaves. Check bulbs. Fill a watering can with a molasses and/or chilli spray. The drench must come in contact with grub. Retreat regularly to control new infestations. For more control options see  [General control options for caterpillars].
Curl Grub LarvaeCurl Grubs
Curl grubs are the larvae of beetles. They are usually white in colour; have a characteristic ‘C’ shape; three pairs of legs and a distinctive head and abdomen. Common curl grub larvae found in gardens include Christmas beetles, cane beetles, dung beetles, flower scarabs and rhinoceros beetles. The larvae vary in size with the large rhinoceros beetle larvae (pictured) growing up to 70mm long. Beetles lay their eggs in the soil during warmer months. The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on decaying organic matter. Where soil has low organic matter (like in potted plants) grubs feed on plant roots. The larvae grow and pupate during the cooler months of the year.

Curl grubs are eaten by bandicoots. Small conical holes in lawns or larger excavations within gardens are signs of bandicoot activity. Wasps also parasitise curl grubs by piercing the skin and laying their eggs inside. The young wasps hatch and live inside the body, eating the non-essential tissues of the curl grub before finally emerging through the body wall of the larvae and ultimately causing its death. Larvae of the African black beetle and scarab cockchafer that attack lawns may warrant control. Drench or spray affected plants with molasses spray, [refer to 'homemade remedies']; use tea tree based products like Eco-Grub; apply spinosad sprays. Repeat applications may be required during spring, summer and autumn. See also [Lawn grubs]

Cut-wormCut-worm damage on tomatoesCut-worm damage on tomatoesCut-worm
Cut-worms are the larvae of nocturnal moths. Infestations vary from one season to the next, but can occur in plague proportions. Larvae feed on seedlings and the soft foliage of vegetables and flowering plants. Seedlings can be nibbled off at ground level and holes appear in the foliage of more established plants. Cut-worm larvae are hard to spot and generally impossible to see during daylight hours. Check plants after dark with a torch and remove all larvae that have emerged from the soil and mulch. Repeat this for several evenings. Drench affected a plants with molasses [refer to 'homemade remedies'
]. Repeat as necessary to treat repeat infestations. Bug zapping lights significantly reduce cut-worm moth populations. 

Cycad Blue ButterflyCycad Blue Butterfly LarvaeCycad Blue Butterfly
This small, native butterfly lays eggs in the centre of cycad plants prior to the new fronds emerging. Fronds either fail to appear or are permanently ruined by the chewing of the slug-like larvae. Ants on cycads are often an indication of the presence of larvae on the undersides of the fronds. Consider Zamia furfuracea as an alternative. It is immune to attack from the cycad blue butterfly.

Tuck exclusion netting loosely over the centre of the plant prior to new growth emerging. Leave room for the new fronds to gradually push it off as they mature. Mature fronds are resistant to attack. Household surface spray applied misted in the heart of the plant at a 1m distance (to avoid burning by propellant) helps protect plants. Apply this during the cool of the evening. For more control options see General control options for caterpillars.

Dendrobium beetleDendrobium Beetle
This is a common pest of potted and shade house orchids, but also attacks orchids grown in tree forks or other natural settings. Beetles and their larvae destroy new leaves and stems of orchids. Clean up any old pots and any other waste materials near the orchids or in your orchid house as this may harbour beetles. Squash them by hand. Apply chewing insect controls such as diatomaceous earth sprays.

The appearance of yellow, orange or green cotton or string-like threads covering plants indicates infestation by a parasitic plant known as dodder. Seeds are distributed by birds. Dodder is difficult to get rid of. Germinating seeds attach themselves to living plants, drawing on their host for nutrients. They can also carry out their own photosynthesis. This dual nutrient source explains why dodder is able to grow so quickly. The only option for control is complete removal. Dodder invades the tissue of the host plant in order to feed from it. If plants in your garden become unwitting hosts, severe pruning or complete removal of the plant is the only option for eradicating this parasitic pest. These are more than 90 different species of dodder that are native to Australia.

Erinose MiteErinose MiteErinose Mite
Erinose mite is most common on hibiscus, lychee, melicope and Eumundi quandong. On hibiscus they create distorted new growth. On other species the leaves take on a brown, felt-like appearance. Control can be achieved by pruning off the worst affected areas (note this disrupts lychee fruiting). Spray with wettable sulphur or apply an oil spray to both sides of the leaves [see Do It Yourself Pest Control]. Timing is all important. Check plants regularly and spray new growth. Pale mottling is often the first indication of infestation. Damaged new growth and foliage does not retain its former appearance after spraying controls the mites.

Fig leaf beetle larvaeFig Leaf Beetle
Small brown/black fig leaf beetles (Poneridia semipullata) and their slug-like larvae (yellow then maturing to black) attack fig trees causing severe defoliation. They are particularly devastating on cultivated backyard fig trees as premature defoliation affects fruit production. Unseasonal outbreaks can occur, but these pests are most likely during summer and autumn. Active observation is the key to minimizing damage. Inspect fig trees on a regular basis. Both adults and larvae may feed on the plant at the same time. Pick off leaves where beetles and larvae are active. Molasses and oil sprays [
refer to 'homemade remedies] and diatomaceous earth sprays can be applied. Net trees to protect foliage from beetles and the fruit from birds.

Fruit flyFruit Fly
Understanding the lifecycle and passions of Queensland fruit fly can help you achieve a ‘wriggle-free’ harvest. Virtually all fruit are potentially susceptible including tomatoes, capsicum, chillies, eggplants, citrus, grapes, feijoa and tropical apples and stone fruit. A fruit fly lifecycle includes an egg, larvae (maggot), pupae and adult stage. Eggs are laid in fruit by female flies after they have mated. This fruit is described as being stung. The eggs develop into the familiar white maggots (fruit fly larvae). Feeding maggots cause fruit to rot. Maggots emerge from the fruit and drop to the ground. Fruit attacked early in the season will partially ripen and drop prematurely. Fruit flies pupate in the ground, emerging weeks or months later to mate and sting fruit.

Fruit fly trap to protect baits from weatherUse commercial or DIY bait traps [see Do It Yourself Pest Control] all year to monitor populations and act as traps. Inspect, empty and refill traps regularly. Remove weed trees that support fruit fly populations including wild loquats; pear guavas and Brazilian cherries. Grow susceptible crops when fruit fly population is low (tomatoes in winter in the tropics and subtropics). Place bags over individual fruit immediately after fruit set or cover entire vegetable gardens or fruit trees with exclusion fabric. Mulch thickly beneath fruit trees to hamper fly emergence or free range poultry beneath fruit trees. Pick up fallen fruit in a bucket. Fill the bucket with boiling water and leave overnight before placing in the compost or feeding to livestock.
Fruit piercing moth (Othreis sp)Fruit Piercing Moths (also called fruit sucking moths)
Fruit that develop soft spots and drop prematurely may occur as a result of fruit piercing moths. These large nocturnal moths have large red eyes and are only seen after dark by inspecting fruit with a torch after dark. There are several species, but the wings are typically black, dark brown or green, often with distinctive orange markings. Several native vine species support larvae of these moths. Moths pierce the skin and suck the liquid contents of fruit. A black spot remains at the point of entry. No larvae are present. This feature distinguishes them from fruit fly, but not fruit sucking bugs. The flesh around the wound becomes soft and pulpy or dry and pithy depending on the fruit attacked.

Spraying is not a control option. In some cases it is possible to pick fruit before it is fully ripe, thereby beating the moths to the harvest. For crops that require a greater degree of ripening, cover fruit with paper bags or exclusion fabric. Outdoor light designed to zap night flying insects attract these moths. A standard moth trap baited with over-ripe bananas will attract fruit piercing moths. [video link of fruit piercing moth]

Galls on macaranga leafsGalls
Galls are swollen lumps or other unusual multiplication of cells and can appear on any part of a plant. They may be caused by insects, mites, nematodes, fungi, viruses or bacteria (see Crown Gall on diseases page). These organisms cause irritation of plant cells via feeding or egg laying. Galls are common on native plants, but are largely cosmetic. They rarely cause the death of the plant and do not warrant control. If the appearance of galls distracts significantly from plants, simply prune off and dispose of the affected leaves. Do not compost.

Citrus Gall WaspGall Wasp
Swollen lumps on the young stems of citrus trees signal egg-laying activity by the gall wasp (Bruchophagus fellis). This stout, black wasp is native to NSW and Queensland. The lumps enlarge as the wasp larvae grow. Eggs are laid in summer and early autumn when new growth peaks. Wasps emerge from the galls from mid winter in the tropics and subtropics and in spring in cooler climates. Small, native orange wasps parasitize the larvae of citrus gall wasps. Remove the affected stems at a leaf joint below the lump. Cut the swollen section of stem open, if mulching or composting the waste to expose eggs and larvae inside to dehydration. Alternatively, dispose of affect stems offsite or by burning. It is not essential to remove old galls from attacks except for cosmetic reasons, as the larvae will have already departed.

Grasshoppers are chewing pests of several different types. They are potentially attracted to most plants. Eggs are generally laid in the soil and emerge when soil moisture levels and temperatures are suitable. Identify sacrificial plants and use exclusion netting on edibles (like mint and basil) that you wish to protect. Spraying plants with commercial liquid silica and potash makes them less prone to attack. Grasshoppers are slower at dawn and dusk making them easier to catch and remove. Free range hens, ducks and other poultry are efficient grasshopper eaters. Use yellow sticky traps. Protect plants with chilli sprays [refer to 'homemade remedies
]. Beneficial wasps prey on grasshoppers as do insect eating birds.
Green vegetable bugGreen vegetable bug damageGreen Vegetable Bug
The small sucking green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula) is a highly destructive pest and part of the stink bug group. It has the potential to cause major damage to a range of fruit and vegetable crops. Tomatoes, capsicum, eggplants and beans are particularly susceptible, but leafy greens and flowering annuals are also attacked. Fruit and leaves develop distortions and mottling. Bugs can be hard to spot and quickly drop from the plant when disturbed. Green vegetable bugs are present all year round in warm climates, but populations explode during spring and summer. Net or bag crops when fruit first sets to protect plants from damage. Wear gloves and inspect susceptible plants over successive days removing bugs when you see them. Damage can sometimes be confused with white fly attack.

Harliquin bugsHarlequin Bugs
Cotton harlequin bugs can be found on members of the cotton or Malvaceae family. This includes hibiscus, malvaviscus, abutilon and mallow.  The metallic blue sheen of these bugs makes them easy to spot, particularly as they congregate in large numbers. The large, comparatively dull coloured, orange females tend to be solitary. Female bugs lay groups of pale pink eggs in neat clusters that encircle the stem. You will often find her standing guard over newly laid egg clusters. Like all bugs, cotton harlequins are equipped with a long, sucking proboscis. They use this tube to pierce the leaf surface and draw out the liquid contents of the stem and leaf cells. Cotton harlequin bugs rarely warrant control. Occasionally, the ends of heavily infested stems droop under the weight of the insects and appear wilted as a result of their feeding activity. Prune off affected stems after the insects have had their fill.

Helicoverpa (also known as Heliothus grubs)in rockmelonCaterpillar exiting a tomatoHelicoverpa (also known as Heliothus)
Helicoverpa (heli-co-verpa) caterpillars attack a wide range of edible crops and lawns. Lawn army worm or lawn caterpillars belong to this group. Adult moths are night flying and lay eggs on leaves, flowers and grass. The tiny caterpillars quickly burrow their way into pinhead-sized fruit or soft stems. Affected fruit continue to develop. Closer to harvest you may discover holes where mature larvae have emerged to pupate in the soil below or you may discover the larvae when you cut into ripe fruit.

Some species including lawn caterpillars are resistant to pyrethrum. Timing is everything. Start treating susceptible crops prior to flowering. Use pheromone traps attract to monitor populations of male moths. Many bugs, beetles, ants, spiders, lacewings plus trichogramma and ichneumon wasps prey on helicoverpa caterpillars. For more control options see General control options for caterpillars.
Herbicde damage on rosesHerbicde damageHerbicide Damage
Spray drift, accumulation of herbicides in the soil and movement of herbicides through soil in water causes stunted growth and distorted shoots. Glyphosate; Once A Year Path Weeder; Weed and Feed products that attach to a garden hose and selective herbicides designed to kill broad leaf weeds and clover in lawns most likely to be responsible for the damage. All plants are potentially affected. Once contact is made with plant tissue, it cannot be removed. The plants will never grow out of the damage even if pruned and fertilized. Remove damaged plants.

Hibiscus BeetleHibiscus Beetle
Hibiscus beetles have always been notoriously difficult to control because of their hard outer shell and tendency to shelter out of reach within flower petals.  The beetles cause flowers to fall from plants prematurely. Cultivars with white or pale coloured flowers tend to be more attractive to hibiscus beetles. Gardeners have several strategies to reduce beetle populations. Picking up fallen blooms each day reduces beetle numbers significantly. Placing white or yellow icecream containers filled with water and a liquid liquid soap beneath plants can trap a significant number of adults. Traps should be emptied every few days and refilled with fresh water and soap.  

Lacebug on AzaleasLacebug on olivesLacebug
These sucking insects feed on the undersides of new growth during late spring, summer and early autumn. The foliage becomes mottled and pale. The rust-like lacebug droppings on the underside of the leaves remain well after the insects have departed. Azaleas and olives are particularly affected. Olive lacebug causes significant leaf drop on olive trees. Soap or oil sprays, and even liquid fish fertiliser (it contains some fish oil) are effective at controlling these pests, but you may need to repeat spray at fortnightly intervals. Make sure you apply sprays to the undersides of the leaves. Use a recycled hose end connected applicator to apply oil spray to shrubs and large trees.

Lantana bugs (Aconophora compressa)Lantana bugs
These strange looking leaf hoppers are the infamous lantana bugs (Aconophora compressa). Lantana bugs were deliberately introduced into Australia from Mexico in 1995 to help control lantana (Lantana camara) which is a major weed of native bushland. While this insect does attack lantana plants, it has not proved a very effective control and is not longer used for this purpose. Lantana bugs quickly developed an appetite for ornamental plants including fiddlewood trees (Citharexylum spinosum), duranta (Duranta repens), lemon verbena (Aloysia citrodora) and other members of the Verbenaceae family. Lantana bugs congregate along the stems of plants. They suck sap and secrete a sticky honey dew on which sooty mould grows. Repeat applications of oil spray will smother bugs. Avoid close contact as these insects can inflict a painful sting.
Lawn grub damage to lawnsLawn Grubs
Lawn grubs is the collective term for several lawn pests. This includes the adults and curl grub larvae of the Argentine and pruinose scarab beetles and African black beetles; lawn army worm and sod web worm which are the larvae of moths as well as the Argentine stem weevil. All grass types are susceptible, but infestations are more severe on well-tended lawns as pests find tender, juicy grass more palatable. Damage is most common in summer and autumn, particularly after heavy rainfall promotes grass growth.

Lawns grubs are seasonal and your grass will recover with the help of natural predators, but this may take time. Parasitic ichneumon wasps fly over lawns searching for curl grubs and caterpillars in which to lay their eggs. These wasps are otherwise harmless. Birds, lizards and naturally occurring soil fungi and bacteria also control lawn grubs.

Your best defence against lawn grubs is to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil by mowing regularly without a catcher and/or top dressing your lawn with pulverized cow or sheep mature. Apply small amounts of organic fertilizer in spring, summer and autumn. Each winter use a test kit to check the soil pH level and apply dolomite lime to raise it above 6.5 if required.

Other low toxic control options include moth zappers/traps; drenching with black strap molasses (1 cup per 9l water); natural soap drenches (suitable for small, level lawns); bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel/BT); tea tree and eucalyptus products (EcoGrub); spinosad products and neem (Eco-Neem).

Lawn grub killers based on longer lasting chemicals that bind to the soil include bifenthrin. This is also used to control termites and works by disrupting the nervous system of any insect that eats or comes in contact with the sprayed grass. Imidacloprid (the active ingredient in Confidor) is also sold for lawn grub control, but is very toxic to bees and other beneficial insects.

Twenty Eight Spotted LadybeetleTwenty Eight Spotted LadybeetleLadybeetle (Twenty-eight Spotted)
Most lady beetles are beneficial; however the 28 spotted lady beetle feeds on the leaves of plants. Lady beetles with a few spots are likely to be beneficial as both adults and their larvae feed voraciously on pests such as aphids, scale and mites. Lady beetles with lots of black spots (24-28) on a yellow/brown body (pictured) are leaf eaters that commonly attack potatoes and eggplants, but also feed on pumpkins, rockmelons and other vegetable crops. They often migrate from weeds to vegetables or ornamental plants. Remove any weeds that might harbour them. Squash them by hand.

Banksia-leaf-miner-(Stegommata-sulfuratella)Leaf Miner
Leaf miners are larvae of night-flying moths whose larvae tunnel between the upper and lower leaf surfaces of plants. Ornamental plants including cineraria and nasturtiums are often attacked, but also native plants like banksia. Citrus leaf miner causes most concern among gardeners. Leaf miners are naturally controlled by a number of beneficial wasps. Remove affected leaves on ornamental plants if they look unsightly (see Citrus leaf miner below).

Citrus Leaf MinerLeaf Miner on Citrus
This tiny, white introduced moth (Phyllocnistis citrella) is night-flying and lays eggs on young citrus leaves and new shoots particularly mandarins and Meyer lemons. The larvae burrow between the upper and lower leaf surfaces. The foliage becomes distorted as larvae eat tunnels through the leaf. Heavy infestations disfigure and retard new growth on young trees. Effects are cosmetic on mature trees. Flatten leaves between your thumb and forefinger to squash larvae within the leaf or prune off affected leaves. Moths avoid leaves treated with oil sprays. Application should coincide with new growth flushes. Avoid heavy fertiliser applications during spring and summer when this pest is most active. Use insects zapping lights during the evening to reduce moth populations.
Looper caterpillarLooper Caterpillars (also called Inch worms)
This name describes the way larvae of an enormous group of night flying moths (Geometridae) inch or loop as they move along a stem. When stationary, they lay flat against the stem. Colours vary, but as a general rule their mimic the colour of the plant they feed on. This makes them difficult to see. They attack a wide range of plants including native banksias, grevilleas and poinciana trees. Damage can be severe on young plants. For more control options see General control options for caterpillars

This insect is a psyllid, but commonly called a lerp. This is really the name of their lacy, sugary coating that the insect hides beneath. Rather than produce honey dew like many other sucking pests, psyllids produce highly decorative (and edible) lerp coverings. They come in all shapes and sizes with some appearing remarkably like tiny seashells. These insects tend to occur on eucalyptus trees grown outside the limits of their climatic tolerance. Rather than try to control these insects, you should look at the overall health of the tree and try to provide the type of conditions that the tree would experience in its natural environment.

Longicorn Beetle DamageLongicorn Beetles
Native longicorm beetles are easily distinguished by their rectangular body shape and enormous recurved antennae. The female beetle removes the outermost section of tissue, ringbarking pencil-thick sections of stem with remarkable precision. She lays eggs just beneath the bark in the area immediately beyond the ring. The tree continues to transport water and dissolved minerals from the root system to the foliage via undamaged water conducting tissue located on the inside of the stem.

Sugars produced by the foliage are sent down to the roots, but are interrupted by the tissue damage at the point where the eggs are laid. This provides an abundant food supply for the developing longicorn larvae. Affected trees attempt to repair the damage by producing callous tissue to close the ring-barked gap, but the affected stem section usually dies. To control infestations, prune dead stem sections back to a growing point. This will reduce beetles numbers. Alternatively, think of it as natural pruning.

Mealy BugsMealy Bugs
These sucking insects hide on the undersides of leaves, in leaf axils or on plant roots. They suck sap and weaken plants and are often associated sooty mould and ants. They are very difficult to control. Soil dryness can predispose plants to infestations. If you find the new leaves of bulb plants (agapanthus, clivia, eucharis lilies etc) emerging with distorted foliage – it is likely mealy bugs have infested the roots. Hibiscus, palms, roses, African violets and indoor plants are commonly attacked, but mealy bugs have a very wide host range.

Dispose of badly infested indoor plants off-site to stop pests spreading to other pots. Where mealy bugs on roots are suspected, drop the entire plant into a bucket of a strong molasses solution (2 tablespoons per litre water) or a combination of neem and a soil wetting agent. Leave to soak overnight. Dip a cotton wool bud in methylated spirits and apply directly on the pest. Botanical oil sprays can also be used, but are not suitable for palms, very soft foliage plants like ferns or those with hairy leaves like African violets. Use neem sprays combined with a wetting agent to drench the soil around garden plants where root systems are infested. Where infestations are serious or continue to occur, consider buying in predatory mealy bug eating lady beetles.

Millipedes are not insects, but they are distantly related. You find them from time to time in the garden or in pots, but they usually do not cause major problems in Qld. They do occur in plague proportions in cooler climates. They feed on damp organic matter and hide under leaf litter, in unused pots, or other things around the garden. If you have piles of damp newspapers or other things they can hide in you should clean these away. If they have no-where to hide, they tend to move on. Wood ash, diatomaceous earth or boric acid (avoid if you have children or pests) can be used to control them. Sprinkle around where millipedes are active.

Mites on citrusMites
Mites are not insects, but closely related to spiders and ticks. They are largely impossible to see with the naked eye, but symptoms of attack are easy to spot. There are many different species including Broad mite; Brown rust mites; Bud mite; Erinose mite; Tea mite; Red spider mite or two spotted mite and russet mite. Dry conditions often increase the incidence and severity of mite infestations. If sowing seed, freeze it 48 hours prior to sowing to kill mites carried on seed. Dispose of small annual plants off-site if they are infested. Dusting sulphur, wettable sulphur, diatomaceous earth or wood ash pressed on to affected foliage and stems helps to control mites.

Mole cricketMole Cricket
The mole cricket is a largely subterranean insect related to true crickets and grasshoppers. They tunnel beneath the soil using strong, modified front legs. They feed on insects and plants. Males sing during the evening to attract females. While they are often touted as a major pest of lawns, the sight of a few crickets is not cause for concern. Commercially available lawn grub controls based on eucalyptus oil may be used if seasonal conditions see the population explode. Soap and molasses drenches are another option
[refer to 'homemade remedies]. They may invade over-watered and highly fertilized lawns when conditions elsewhere in the garden are dry.
Orchard swallowtail larvaeOrchard swallowtail butterflyOrchard swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterflies lay eggs on citrus. The orchard swallowtail butterfly is the one most familiar to gardeners. The distinctive larvae look initially like a bird dropping – a brilliant bit of camouflage. As larvae mature and fatten they take on a familiar green colour, displaying ‘red horns’ (osmeterium) when threatened. Caterpillars on young plants can be destructive (pick them off and place on other citrus), but mature citrus easily cope with chewed leaves. It is a small price to pay for the enjoyment of these glorious butterflies.

Pimple Psyllids on LillypillyPimple Psyllids on Lillypilly
Pimple psyllids are sucking insects that cause puckering and distortion on the new grow of lillypilly plants. The insect creates a pimple-like bump on the leaf to hide under. If you look closely you can often see this scale-like insect, however even when the insect departs, the lump remains. Very few lillypilly trees are immune to this pest, but Syzygium 'Pink Cascade' is one of them. Select lillypilly varieties carefully. Prune foliage from affected plants, then spray the new growth with oil [refer to 'homemade remedies] or neem and repeat spray whenever plants make significant new growth.

Possums enjoying our pawpawsPossums
To protect fruit and selected plants from being eaten by possums, provide an alternative food source like carrots. Accept that these native animals need to eat some plants and most of the plants they feed on recover quite quickly. To create a repellent barrier around selected fruit trees or vegetable gardens, spray oil of cloves at the rate of 6 drops per litre of water each week. On citrus and other plants with hard leaves the spray can be applied directly to the plant.

Rat damageRat Damage
No-one likes to admit that they have rats or other rodents in the garden and poor possums often get the blame for damage like this. Rat damage is easy to spot as you can clearly see the gnaw marks from a rodent's front teeth. Rats are typically also to blame if you see passionfruit with a neat circular hole in the shell and an empty fruit. Rats and mice feed on sweet potatoes, fallen fruit, macadamia nuts, pellets of fertiliser applied to gardens and controlled release fertilizer found in potted plants. Rat controlled can be achieved through humane traps.

Red shouldered leaf beetleRed-Shouldered Leaf Beetle
Monoleptera australis are small native beetles distinguished by red markings on a yellow/orange body. These insects are gregarious and often appear in plague numbers in late spring and summer, often after rain. Adults emerge from pupa laid in the soil and decimate plants over several days. They move on just as suddenly. These beetles often occur in such numbers that little can be done to control them. Precious plants may be netted. Gardeners report some success with chilli spray that acts both to kill mature beetles as also as a repellent. Apply chewing insect controls such as diatomaceous earth sprays. Act quickly, as beetles secrete pheromones that attract others to the area. Fortunately, infestations are short lived and plants quickly recover from damage.
Red Spider MiteRed spider mite on capsicumRed Spider Mite (also known as Two-Spotted Mite)
Red spider mite damage causes leaves to appear pale and without shine. Red spider mite webbing can often be seen on plants with serious infestations. Affected fruit shows skin discolouration. Red spider mites attack a very wide range of ornamentals and fruit. Soap sprays and wettable sulphur kill mites through dehydration, while oil sprays suffocate mites [see Do It Yourself Pest Control]. Palms and other indoor or patio plant species are particularly susceptible. Water plants outdoors each week, taking care to spray the hose up underneath the foliage to dislodge mites where they hide and feed. Alternatively, wipe both sides of leaves with a soft cloth dipped in warm, soapy water.
Root Knot Nematodes (See Diseases)
Tomato Russet MiteRusset Mite
Tomatoes that start to grow well, then gradually develop dry foliage and smooth, bronze stems may have fallen victim to tomato russet mite. Invisible to the naked eye, these pests result in plants gradually becoming weaker until all the foliage is at the top of the plant. Freeze tomato seed for 48 hours prior to sowing to kill mites carried out over last a previous crop. Spray each week with wettable sulphur, soap sprays or diatomaceous earth. Alternatively, carefully press fire cold ash on the upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems (without throwing it in the air; breathing it in; or coating the soil surface). It is alkaline and dehydrating. Keep a covering of ash on the plant for two weeks. Avoid wetting the foliage. If you have had this pest in past begin treating new crops when you first plant seedlings.

Sawfly larvaeSawfly Larvae (also spitfires)
Sawflies or spitfires feed on eucalyptus foliage. They are not flies, but wasp larvae. Adult wasps pupate in the soil (often for years). They emerge in spring and summer. Females use a modified egg laying structure to ‘saw’ into the leaf to lay eggs (often parthenogenetically – without the need to mate). The eggs develop into gregarious, hideous-looking spitfire larvae - a name that describes their habit of writhing up and regurgitating an acrid liquid to repel predators. The native plant species they attack cope with the defoliation that accompanies an infestation of sawfly larvae, so control is not usually necessary. You can prune off large numbers of these simply by cutting off the leaves that they cluster on. Molasses or chilli sprays [see Do It Yourself Pest Control] will also cause them to drop off. Birds and poultry do not eat them.

Scale and AntsScale on bottlebrushScale
There are many different species of sucking scale pests including hard wax scale (Ceroplastes sinensis), white wax scale (Ceroplastes destructor) and pink wax scale (Ceroplastes rubens), black scale (Saisettia oleae) and soft brown scale (Coccus hesperidum). Almost all plants are potentially affected. Scale insects are commonly associated with ants who harvest honey dew exudate produced by the scale. Black sooty mould fungus grows on the honey dew. Oil sprays [see Do It Yourself Pest Control] will control scale and eventually the sooty mould will also disappear. Apply fortnightly for six weeks (3 times) to control new generations of scale that emerge from beneath the body of mature scale killed by initial applications. Lady beetles and beneficial wasps prey on scale pests. See also Seychelles soft scale

Scale on grass treeScale on Grass Trees
Scales pests often hide deep within the foliage head of native grass trees. Standard treatments are rarely completely effective. The natural solution is fire. Use a small gas blow torch or the type you use in the kitchen to caramelise sugar to simulate a bush fire. Burn the head of the plant you will toast the scale! Take the necessary precautions to prevent the fire spreading. Treated plants develop a fresh green head of foliage.

White scale on rosesScale on Roses
Infestations of white rose scale can be particularly debilitating to roses, eventually killing plants. White rose scale often multiplies rapidly during winter. Where infestations are particularly heavy, use warm soapy water and a soft scrubbing brush to remove the majority of the scale. A follow up application of an oil based spray [refer to 'homemade remedies] will usually bring about control. Repeat as often as necessary. Fertilise affected roses to compensate for the loss of vigour resulting from the infestation.
Seychelles soft ScaleSeychelles Soft Scale (Icerya seychellarum)
This sucking pest (Icerya seychellarum) is commonly confused with mealy bugs, but has a distinct, oval shape with white/yellow hairy surface protecting an orange body. You find females mostly on stems and juveniles on the midrib on the undersides of leaves. Males are orange in colour. This pest attacks everything from citrus to succulents. Like the scale and mealy bugs they are related to, Seychelles soft scale is associated with ants and black sooty mould fungus. The mealy bug ladybeetle (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) is a natural predator. Prune infected growth from highly infested plants. Oil sprays [see Do It Yourself Pest Control] applied fortnightly will help to control outbreaks.

SnailsRed triangle slug (Triboniophorus graeffei)Snails and Slugs
Slugs and snails are molluscs. Some eat plants; some eat moss and fungi; some prey on other snails and slugs. Saucers of homemade bee attract snails and slugs. Non-toxic iron-based baits are the safest of the snail and slug pellets commercially available. Thin copper bands sold through some nursery outlets and mail order companies make effective barriers. Simply place the copper around the edge of the garden bed, fixing it to timber edging or brickwork. As snails and slugs attempt to pass over the copper barrier they receive an electrical shock that repels them. Clear dead leaves from the base of plants with strappy foliage. Clean up pots and other materials where slugs and snails hide. Poor the waste from your coffee plunger or spread coffee grounds over areas where snails and slugs congregate. They hate caffeine! The large native red triangle slug (pictured above left) eats mould and algae and does not damage plants.

Sod web wormSod Web Worm
The sod web worm is the caterpillar of a moth (Herpetogramma licarsisalis). It is a pest of lawns and grasses and often grouped under the general category of lawn grubs. The caterpillar creates a web-like covering under which to hide while it feeds. Early morning dew often makes this webbing more obvious. Standard controls use for lawn grubs apply to sod web worm, but wild birds and free ranging poultry can be used to naturally control this pest. See Lawn grubs

Spined Citrus Bug
These sucking insects vary in colour when young. Adults are leaf green with the appearance of pointed shoulders and
Spined Citrus Bug are well camouflaged. They feed by piecing the fruit of a variety of citrus and sucking up the liquid contents. Fruit develops dry patches and premature fruit fall is common. Lemons and mandarins are particularly susceptible. Even a small infestation can do considerable damage to your harvest.

Wear gloves and pick them off by hand or use a leaf blower or vacuum cleaner to suck them up. Oil sprays [see Do It Yourself Pest Control] or neem (on non-fruiting trees only) can be effective, but needs to be applied directly to the insect.

Camellia Tea MiteCamellia Tea MiteTea Mite
Camellias attacked by tea mites develop a bronze discolouration down the central midrib of the leaf. Left unchecked, bronzing envelops the entire leaf and poor growth and reduced flowering results. Damaged leaves never regain their green leaf colour. Dry atmospheric conditions and poor air circulation favour tea mite infestations. Oil sprays are effective at controlling outbreaks, but must be applied to both sides of the foliage
[refer to 'homemade remedies']. Damaged leaves do not regain their green colour.

Thrip damage on beansThrips
Thrips are slender black or grey sucking insects that commonly attack flowers and developing fruit. Their feeding activity can cause premature flower drop; failure of flowers to set fruit; flower deformities and twisted, puckered or malformed fruit. Plants commonly affected include beans, tomatoes, onions, gardenias, azaleas, roses, bulbs and native plants. Thrips are very hard to spot. To check for thrips, cut a few blooms and place them in a clear plastic bag or a glass jar. Leave overnight and by the morning you should be able to spot the insects that have emerged from the blooms.

Thrips on gardeniaThrip damage on eggplantsDo not expect to see live thrips on fruit as damage occurs when the fruit first formed. To control thrips, treat the developing flowers regularly with either soap sprays, wettable or dusting sulphur. Oil sprays can be used on ornamentals or other plants whose foliage is suitably hardened. Many beneficial insects prey on thrips providing natural biological control.
Twenty Eight Spotted Lady Beetle [see ladybeetle above]
Webbing caterpillarWebbing Caterpillars
There are several different types of webbing caterpillars. They are generally the larvae of moths. They create a webbed nest to hide from birds and other predators. If you pull the webbing apart you will find the caterpillar hiding inside. Cut off and dispose of the affected branches - they often affect the tip growth of bottlebrush or small internal branches of paperbarks (Melaleuca) and tea tree (Leptospermum). Alternatively, just remove the webbing by hand when you see it. Plants recover quickly.

Weevils are a type of beetle and are easy to recognise because they have a large snout. Some weevils are incredibly colourful, while others are plain black or brown. Some chew leaves and stems; others feed on roots or fruit. In most cases control is not warranted. Please note: These are not the weevils that you find in flour or grains which are typically the larvae of moths (Plodia interpunctella or Kuehniella species), Pantry moths are typically in products when you buy them and emerge during storage. To kill pantry moths place flour and grains in the freezer for 48 hours, then store in sealed containers in the pantry or in the refrigerator.

Whitefly damage on tomatoWhite Fly
White flies suck sap and transfer disease. They attack ornamental and edible plants, but gardeners are most likely to encounter them in the vegetable garden. These tiny white insects hide beneath foliage and disperse in clouds of flying insects when disturbed. Tomatoes affected by white fly often have white discolouration and fail to ripen evenly. Encourage beneficial insects or buy in predatory wasps (Encarsia formosa). Apply a spray soap or a strong jet of water beneath the foliage each day. Use oil sprays, but avoid tender plants. Hang yellow sticky traps. Place a layer foil or other shiny recycled material beneath plants as mulch - white flies hate the reflected light. Cover plans with exclusion netting at planting. white fly on tomato pic

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