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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic Update - September 30, 2009

This article was published originally on 9/30/2009

The following are highlights and updates about samples and questions received in the Clinic during the past two weeks:
Insects
It's time for the minute pirate bugs to show up and cause the annoyance of biting exposed skin as you work in the fall sunshine.  Try to be benevolent to these ecologically-beneficial insects.  They worked all summer eating the eggs of other insects in the garden and field.  See the photo below and our web site for more information.
It seems to be the time of year for larger yellow ants to pick up and move to protected areas for the winter.  We have received many samples of the mixed workers and winged swarmers that overwinter.  Larger yellow ants occasionally spend the winter in basements, but they are harmless and do not set up permanent colonies indoors. Please see our website for information and a photo.

This year we have received numerous insect gall samples, especially on oak, and most of them are ones I have never seen before (see below for some pictures of my favorites).  Sometimes I can determine a common name for the galls, but there are so many different ones it is not easy.  The good thing is that leaf galls are completely harmless. For more information on galls please see Insect Galls on Trees and Shrubs. 
Diseases

A minute pirate bug, AKA the insidious flower bug, a beneficila predator.
A minute pirate bug, AKA the insidious flower bug, a beneficial predator.
 
Cluster or galls on underside of oak leaf.Cluster of galls on underside of oak leaf.
 
Numerour galls on an oak leaf.Numerous galls on an oak leaf.
 
Galls that have been found falling from oak trees.
Galls that have been found falling from oak trees.
 
Beautiful fuzzy gall on oak leaf vein.Beautiful fuzzy gall on oak leaf vein.
 
Symptoms of bur oak blightSymptoms of bur oak blight.