While daffodils (Narcissus spp.) look beautiful when healthy, pests of this perennial can turn them into garden eyesores. Daffodil varieties including double and small-cupped varieties, as well as many daffodil hybrids. The flower is native to Spain, Portugal, the northern coast of Morocco and France’s southern coast. When finding ways to rid your flowers of pest insects, remember that chemical methods generally do not work well on most daffodil pests.
Common Daffodil Pests
Common daffodil pests include the bulb mite, bulb fly, aphid and thrips, all of which feed on bulbs and cause them to wither and rot. Bulb mites are a transparent, yellowish-white arachnid. Lesser bulb flies and narcissus bulb flies both feed on the daffodil. The lesser bulb fly has a metallic bronze gloss over its dark blue body, while the narcissus fly has orange or yellow bands over its body and resembles a bumble bee. Aphids come in a range of colors, including black, yellow, red and green, and have soft bodies that are shaped like pears. Thrips have fringed wings and range from shades of tan to dark brown, depending on the species.
Cultural control methods work well in ridding your garden beds of daffodil pests. For lesser and narcissus bulb flies, mow dry daffodil leaves in the spring and follow with a light tilling session to rid the area of the soil openings adult female bulb flies use to find daffodil bulbs. Make sure the leaves are completely dry before you mow. Other cultural control methods include planting daffodil bulbs 10 inches below the soil to avoid damage inflicted by bulb mites. Planting daffodil bulb rows in an open area of your property that experience a lot of wind will also make them less susceptible to bulb mite damage, because these mites avoid windy areas.
Aphids are food for several insect species, including the parasitic wasp, ladybug, lacewing, syrphid fly and damsel bug. Rid your flowers of thrips by using ladybugs and green lacewings to control pest insects. With ladybugs, you can either purchase them from a nursery or plant ladybug-attracting flowers and herbs, such as tansy, wild carrot, yarrow, dill, cilantro, angelica and caraway. If you buy ladybugs, water affected areas before releasing them, as they tend to hang around water sources. It is also a good idea to place a box full of ladybugs in your refrigerator for a few minutes to slow them down and make them more likely to stay where you want them. Release them in the evening or before sunrise as another method of keeping them around, as they use the sun as a navigation tool. Attract lacewings to your property by planting wild lettuce, dill, caraway, yarrow, golden rod, dandelions, Queen Anne’s lace, oleander, sunflowers and cosmos. Keep a pan filled with stones and water and spray sugar water on plants as additional ways to attract lacewings. Purchase lacewing eggs and use them to pepper affected areas, as lacewing larvae will not wander. Lacewings that reach adulthood in a certain area are also likely to stay where they are as lacewings are not the best at flying. Using an insecticide to free your daffodils of aphids and thrips not only will do minimal damage to these pest insects, but will also kill beneficial insects that consume aphids and thrips.
Other Control Methods
You can use insecticidal soap may be used to control thrips populations, but the affected areas will have to be completely soaked to have any success. Control thrips by using of blue and yellow sticky traps. Make homemade versions of sticky traps by painting cardboard or wooden boards in blue and yellow paint, then coating them with petroleum jelly. Use a stake to prop them up near the daffodils. Thrips will be attracted to the trap and unable to free themselves, thanks to the petroleum jelly. Soak bulbs infested with bulb fly maggots in hot water for 40 minutes. This will kill the maggots. The water should not be hotter than 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
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