Desert Landscaping Plants and Creepy Crawlers

Is your backyard landscaping starting to look a little spooky?  Do the desert landscaping plants resemble something that might fit better in a haunted house?  Well, the other day, I noticed our Yellow Bells were looking a bit frightening.  The culprit…not ghosts and goblins, but aphids and thrips!


Aphids, also known as plant lice, are small (less than 1/8 inch long) sap sucking insects.  There are thousands of species of aphids, ranging from yellow, green, pink, red, brown and black.  They have fat, pear-shaped bodies and move very slowly.  Some species have wings.  They get their names from the plant they attack.  For instance, there are rose aphids, cotton aphids, and potato aphids, etc. licensed landscape contractor


Thrips are very similar.  There are thousands of species of thrips as well.  They are small insects, measuring about 1/16 inch. They have thin, tubular bodies, and range in color.  Some species have wings.  Thrips are especially known for attacking citrus, both the actual fruit and blossoms.  They do attack a variety of plants though, including onions, beans, etc.  They suck plant juices as well.  These insects have actually been known to bite humans!

Aphids and Thrips cause extreme damage to plants.  They usually attack the underside of plants, leaving silverish grey streaks.  They also cause various deformities, including scaring and blackening.  In extreme cases, plants can lose the ability to produce.  When it comes to citrus, the outside skin is usually damaged, but the fruit itself should be ok.

How To Protect Your Desert Landscaping Plants

desert landscaping plantsThe key to controlling these pesky critters is vigilance.  These insects multiply quickly and can get out of control easily.  Here are a few suggestions, starting with the most eco-friendly:

As soon as there is any sign of intrusion, you can try to control them by simply spraying the affected plants with a forceful spray of water.  Repeat daily, as necessary.

If there are only a few insects, try placing yellow sticky traps around the affected plants.

If the insects persist, try a soapy water mix.  Mix 1 tablespoon of dish detergent with a gallon of water in a spray bottle.  (Do not use a citrus based soap or scented detergents.) Repeat weekly, as necessary.

If the condition persists, try a licensed pesticide such as spinosad, imidacloprid or acephate, following the labeled instructions.

Make sure that all litter from the infected plants is picked up, bagged and thrown away as to not re-infect the treated plant.  In the worst case, the plant may have to be removed.

To help assess plant damage, take an infected clipping into your local nursery.

Have you encountered these pests while landscaping in Phoenix?  I would love to hear about your experience.  How are you protecing your desert plants?

AZ Landscape Creations – Your Landscaping in Phoenix Experts

AZ Landscape Creations is a licensed landscape contractor that specializes in landscaping in Queen Creek, landscaping in Chandler and landscaping in Mesa.  We also serve the East Valley communities of Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, and Ahwatukee.

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