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Mild Winter Could Mean Early Arrival For Pests

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Euonymus Scale

Insects called scales attack a Euonymus plant. (Credit: Chalet Education Center)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The exceptionally mild winter could be bad news for your garden.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the conditions this winter has been perfect for insects, or plant spores, because there has not been enough killing cold to do them in.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Horticulturist Jennifer Brennan, of the Chalet in Wilmette, says judging from the warm-degree days piled up so far, insects and plant diseases should show at the beginning of April – two weeks earlier than usual.

“Some of the aphids – you know, there would be aphids, they’ll hatch – we see those early,” Brennan said.

Green thumbs can also expect trouble from a little insect called scale.

“And scale is an interesting insect that sucks the juices of the plant, and it cements itself on the stem of a plant, and it builds this hard cover – it’s like a scale – covering over it,” she said.

Scales can damage the plants if present in large numbers.

Before the aphids and scales, Brennan expects to see spruce mites – tiny little insects than turn spruce boughs yellow.
Brennan says a prolonged cold spell could turn the trend upside down.

But if it continues to be warm, and also wet, Brennan expecting early emergence of fungal leaf spot diseases such as “apple scab,” which attacks early flowering crab apple trees.

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