It's September, and the gardening word of the day is "eeew."
Exhibit A: my pyracantha 'Mohave,' which I discovered in the process of being defoliated by voracious caterpillars clustered together and wiggling and generally grossing me out. The perps have yellow and black vertical stripes, black heads, and orange knobs along their body. I couldn't get a positive ID from my various bug sources - my best guess is Datana perspicua - but I can tell you that they grow really, really fast. I left them alone for a few days hoping the birds would eat them, and when I came back they seem to have quadrupled in size. More to the point, they were making short work of the pyracantha's foliage. They had to go.
Out came the step ladder and the clippers. Navigating my wild, unpruned pyracantha took a little doing, but I managed to park the ladder so that I could ever-so-gingerly snip off the caterpillar-filled branches and dispose of them. And then I saw this.
Eeew eeew eeew. This one sent me straight inside to my favorite bug book, where I identified these guys as woolly aphids, a fairly common pest of pyracantha but (happily) entirely new to me. I spritzed the infested branches with insecticidal soap, then, to make sure I had left no aphid or caterpillar behind, blasted the entire shrub with a strong jet of water from the hose. Mission accomplished. I walked away.
But wait - what's that crawling in my shirt? Eeeeew. Really, really eeeeew.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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