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Attacks azaleas, as the name suggests, but that's not all. The term of Tingide of azaleas is misleading and deceives us because this insect affects all plants belonging to the Ericaceae family which also includes other notes such as the Rhododendron and the Blueberry but also others with more difficult names to memorize such as Kalmia, Skimmia and Leucothoe. Another deception of this creature lies in the fact that it is often mistaken for a mite by the type of damage it causes on the plants and it is important to understand how to distinguish them in order to know how to intervene.
Tingide of azaleas: a voracious insect
There Tingide of azaleas, also called tingide of the Ericaceae, scientific name Stephanitis takeyai, is undoubtedly a greedy insect which has manifested its presence in Italy since 2000 and since then has been killing plants, creating damage to the leaves that can even cause their death.
The season in which it occurs and its attacks are more violent, is the summer one which lasts until October or November if the temperatures do not drop too much. Has a very small body, only a few millimeters long, so you can imagine how difficult it is to notice and fight them. If we look closely at the appearance of this insect, we can see that some sprout on the head long antennae compared to the body but thin. Another interesting feature are the semi-transparent hemielitre (wings) that appear on the chest that seem to be covered by a black lattice.
Its life cycle starts in March with its eggs being laid under the leaves. It is there that we must look for them if we want defuse the attack before it disturbs the growth of our plant. The eggs of the Tingide of the azaleas are very small and oval and appear in large groups of up to a hundred elements, all dark brown.
After maximum 22 days the first creatures hatch and sprout around April, flat and always oval like eggs but dark in color that have to wait about thirty days to become adults. Even at this stage of life, the Tingide of the Ericaceae it hides under the leaves left on the plant or in those fallen to the ground, already dry, but also in the recesses of the bark.
The rate of reproduction of this insect allows the appearance of at least two generations of Tingide of azaleas and sometimes even three if winter does not anticipate its appearance.
bush of yellow azaleas
blooming fuchsia azalea
Azaleas with holes in leaf
When the Tingide it attacks a plant, be it an azalea or something else, it does so to feed on its sap through a mouth apparatus that pricks the plant and then allows it to literally suck this fluid. The leaves and the branch that remain without it goes without saying that it discolours, at least, and then perishes. Usually the young insect remains under the leaves but then goes to the upper page and continues to weaken them to exhaustion because it is capable of causing really serious damage especially if no one does anything to prevent it.
One of the symptoms of its attacks concerns the leaves that not only lose their color but also end up falling due to the minor photosynthetic activity and the decrease in amount of chlorophyll. If our eye sees the leaves fall, the damage does not stop there because it is the whole plant that ends up being weakened and deprived of the vital substances it needs to live and produce new leaves or flowers. Flowering can also be blocked and in the long run the whole plant can perish going into "pause" until the following year.
Black dots under the azalea leaves
There are those who mistake them for dirt or crumbs of earth but not only are they. These spots turn out to be insect droppings which appear as very small, black droplets. Without touching them you notice that they have a greasy appearance and in a certain sense go to dirty the underside of the leaves. Obviously it is not only a question of aesthetics, of dirt, but organic and vital because the droppings of Tingide of the azaleas are able to obstruct the stomata and therefore to hinder breathing. THE smoky mushrooms among other things, they find a good substrate to grow when the leaves are covered with manure.
Another symptom, perhaps the easiest to notice, is that of leaf discoloration. The green gradually begins to turn towards gray until it takes on silvery shades that were not synonymous with Tingide of azaleas they might be nice too. In the most serious cases we get to white but we should notice it sooner and intervene.
How to get rid of azalea tingide
First of all, prevention and to implement it it is necessary to know which are the most frequent channels of transmission and diffusion of this parasite. What most often happens is that the guilty be it the infested material, the plant itself or something with which it is touched and treated. We therefore pay close attention when we go to buy specimens for our garden, checking their state of health, also to defend the other plants we already have at home.
If the attack is already underway, we must necessarily intervene with chemical insecticides that fight the presence of the azalea tingidae as well as other insects. The most effective active ingredients are abamectin, imidacloprid and spirotetramat, to be applied in the correct way to maximize the intervention.
We have said that insects hide under the leaves, especially when they are "young", so it is important to apply the product we have purchased at this point to hit the infested portions. On Amazon you can buy various kinds of insecticides at a good price and very "bad" with those who want to ruin our garden such as "Solabiol Piretro Actigreen Bio" in packs of 100 ml for less than 20 euros, to try.
Alternatively we can also rely on the category of insecticides called "systemic". In this case they are to be applied in the ground so that they can then spread throughout the plant, including the leaves.In this case, it is necessary to intervene when the insects are adults, towards the beginning of April, leaving the product to act and do a second round after about a month because in the meantime some new ones may have been born Tingide of azaleas. If you see that it hasn't had much effect yet, you can repeat it further. When plants are totally invaded and we see that they are dying, when chemical interventions do not give any hope, then we must opt for the most extreme, sad but necessary solution to save the rest of the garden. The most affected plants must be destroyed with fire.
You may also be interested in this related article dedicated to another pest that can put azaleas at risk: Cotton cochineal: remedies.