Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Yellow Jackets, Blackgum Fall Foliage, Leaf Footed Bugs & Satsuma Ailments


This "bee" is a yellow jacket requiring a professional exterminator.
Image by Vickie Perkins.

Yellow Jackets

Ms. Vickie sent an email that read, “I am a Realtor and I have a house for sale with active honeybees. Can you send an email to the local beekeepers?” Normally, AHA would refer this type of complaint to beekeepers on an email list on various Facebook pages. However, Vickie also sent this image of the “bee”.This “bee” is a yellow jacket, and its presence in a sale property would require the services of a professional exterminator.


Blackgum, a native tree with good fall color.
Image by Ethel Smith.

Blackgum Fall Foliage

Ethel of Jena sent in this email, “My sister-in-law wants to know the name of a tree. I’m attaching pictures. She said it’s old, but the leaves are so pretty this time of the year.”Ethel’s sister-in-law has a blackgum tree. This native tree tends to have good fall color, and its red berries are good for wildlife. This tree has potential as a landscape tree because of its attractiveness, toughness, and disease resistance.


A saddleback caterpillar. Its spines are venomous.
Image by Susan Ham

Hairy Caterpillar

Susan, a horticulture professional in DeRidder sent this note, “So cute! Please help me I.D. this Caterpillar. He was feeding on a rose bush.”Susan’s cute visitor is a saddleback caterpillar that becomes a slug moth. What is most important to know about this caterpillar is that the venomous spines are as painful as a bee sting. Look, but don’t touch!! Various insecticides with Bt will control this pest on roses and other plants, and Bt is considered an organic treatment.


Juveniles of the leaf footed bug.
Image from Texas A&M University

Satsuma Ailments

Justin had an insect infestation and wrote, “[I have] three successfully propagated … date palms from the Caspian Sea region are doing well. One is close to three feet, but it has had some orange bugs.” Based on the description, AHA thinks Justin had the juvenile form of the leaf-footed bug (LFB).The juveniles are orange and like to cluster together in this form. LFBs like the same fruits and vegetable that we do. Over the counter (OTC) insecticides will control these bugs, especially since they are soft and susceptible to treatments.

Satsuma with damage of the leaf footed bug.
Image by Wendy Rogers

Both old and recent damage of the citrus leaf miner.
Image by Wendy Rogers.

1116_fig_7_orange_dog_caterpiller_Wendy_RogersjpgThe ragged leaf edges look like damage from the orange dog caterpillar.
Image by Wendy Rogers

Leaf Footed Bugs

This discussion of LFB transitions nicely with this next topic. Wendy sent this question, “Do you know what is causing these problems [on my satsumas]?” Yes, AHA saw three different problems from the images that Wendy sent.

The first problem seems to be damage from the LFB. AHA recommended cover sprays of OTC insecticides to prevent more damage from LFB. Once the damage occurs, there is no cure so prevention of an attack of LFB is the best control practice.

The second problem facing Wendy’s satsumas is the citrus leaf miner (CLM).This image show both old and newer damage from the juvenile of the CLM. The adult is a moth. Dr. Dale Pollet, a retired AgCenter specialist, shared this advice for homeowner with CLM, “Homeowners who have a few citrus trees in the backyard may obtain excellent control of CLM by using spinosad formulated for citrus in home gardens. Homeowners may obtain spinosad at local garden centers under different commercial names such as Conserve™, Naturalyte Insect Control™, Green Light Spinosad™, Success™, Fertilome Borer, Bagworm, Leafminer & Tent Caterpillar Spray™, etc. Citrus leafminer control is important on young, growing backyard citrus trees and mature trees if they have been severely defoliated by storm winds. Citrus leafminer control on backyard trees in turn will reduce sources of citrus leafminer infestations which later migrate to trees in nearby … orchards.”

This third problem affecting Wendy’s tree seems to be another insect, the orange dog caterpillar (ODC) feeding on the leaves and leaving them irregular and ragged.The ODC is an ugly caterpillar and resembles bird droppings. However, it would become a giant swallowtail butterfly. If possible, AHA recommends tolerating the damage on a large tree for the benefit of having butterflies for both pollination and for attractiveness.

The exception would be for a very small citrus tree. Treatment with a Bt insecticide would protect a new tree and enable it to survive and mature. Another option is to relocate these caterpillars to mature citrus tree that can tolerate the damage.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318-264-2448 or Also, please share the name of your parish.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

11/17/2021 2:37:15 PM
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