Shoot, Fruits & Flowers: Holiday Cactus, Damaged Camellia, Stump Borer, a Native Lizard, and Cucumber Beetles

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A holiday cactus with scale insects. Photo: Suzanne Miller

Holiday Cactus

Suzanne wanted help with an indoor plant, “This is an indoor plant, have had it several months, just noticed this, watering weekly. Any recommendations/ thoughts?”

This holiday cactus seems to have scale insects which park themselves on a plant and then feed on plants sap. Fortunately, the treatment for these pests is straight forward. Suzanne can treat her cactus with soapy water to smother these insects. Neem oil would also be a treatment, and it would also smother these scale insects.

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Heat damage on a camellia shrub. Photo: Keith Hawkins, LSU AgCenter

Damaged Camellia

A homeowner in Anacoco thought she had herbicide damage on her landscape plants.

AHA visited with the homeowner and then examined the trees and shrubs in the front and back yards. The image of the camellia next to the driveway expressed heat damage in the foliage. AHA advised that her plants are in extreme stress from the drought. In general, plants would benefit from one inch of rain per week.

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Hardwood stump borer. Photo: Adam Woodward, J&J Exterminating

Stump Borer

Adam, a professor exterminator, wanted to learn about a plant pest, “I am not as good on my plant pests as I am my structural pests. Someone sent me the attached [image] to identify and said they found it on a fig tree. Any ideas? It looks like a newly emerged beetle of some sort that has not had time for the exoskeleton to harden. “

Dr. Chris Carlton, Entomology Diagnostician, LSU AgCenter, helped with the identification, “Almost certainly [hardwood stump borer]....almost. If it is still alive, putting it in some moist soil and rearing the adult would confirm…. The size, head orientation, and antennae are all wrong for the fig borer. I rarely see that species and did not know it was a pest.”

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Broadhead Skink. Photo: Douglas Hicks.

Native Lizard

Douglas asked a simple question, “[ I found this] In our garden. Can anyone identify?” Douglas has a broadhead skink, a native lizard of Louisiana. Various sources online assert that this reptile has a strong association with live oaks and can be very territorial. It will sacrifice its tails to escape from a predator. It is non-venomous, but the male skink is aggressive and will bite if handled. It will feed on insects, spiders, and other invertebrates.

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A pair of striped cucumber beetles. Photo: George Giltner, Advanced Master Gardener, Longville, LA

Cucumber Beetles

George, an Advanced Master Gardener, shared this image of striped cucumber beetles.

George practices organic gardening and recommends using soapy water to smother these pests. The soapy water will clog up the tracheal openings and suffocate these insects.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits, and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337.284.5188 or

“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.”

8/29/2023 6:36:13 PM
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