The Q&A Archives: Resources for Identifying Damaging Insects

Question: Last year was the first summer I had started a garden since moving to central New York. Both my roses and marigolds were decimated quickly, by what I think were leafhoppers. I found shell-remains molted off ugly wedge-shaped bugs that looked more like alienships in Star Trek! I have never encountered these before. They hop away quickly leaving white webbing and the plants brown quickly. Whatever they are, I would like to avoid this problem this summer. So I was wondering what plants they are most likely to attack. They left my portulaca okay last year. I plan to put in at least begonias, snapdragons, and sweetpeas this coming summer. Are there any type of plants that are specifically attacked, or is it "trial and error"? Thank you very muchfor your help! With much appreciation. Bonnie Ithaca, NY

Answer: Without actually seeing the insect and some plant samples showing its damage, it is hard to make an identification. I would suggest contacting the Extension service (through Cornell, 255-2237) and bringing them a sample. Your address looks like you're right on campus, so check out the diagnostic lab in the horticulture or entomology departments. (If, of course, you have the same problem this year. Let's hope not!) As far as resistant varieties go, again, it depends on the insect. The Extension Service will be able to offer some help here in terms of control and choice of varieties. I hope they can help!

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