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Arthropod Pests of Azalea

Stephen Bambara & Steven Frank, Extension Entomologists

CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.

Azalea Lace Bug

- Adult with lacey wings, 1/8"
- Feed from underside of leaves
- Upper leaf surface white stippling to splotchy

- Underside leaf surface with black fly-speck-like fecal spots
- Adults and spiny nymphs on underside of leaf
- Overwinters as egg within leaf at leaf vein
- Eggs hatch begins early Spring

*Reduce stress of plant
*Spray underside of leaves with malathion, pyrethroid or use imidacloprid systemic

Southern Red Mite

- Discoloration noted during Summer or Winter
- Flattened oval eggs or clear egg shells present in Summer and Winter with center thread
- Mites almost black body with pale yellow-brown legs
- Eggs laid underside of leaves
- Use 10X hand lens to check

*Horticultural oil, Floramite, Hexygon, sprayed in cool season while mites active. Follow-up sprays may be required with oil.

Azalea Caterpillar

- Defoliation or chewed leaves with remaining veins. Feed in groups when small.
- Caterpillar 0.5-1.5 inches, reddish to brown-black with yellow to orange stripes, red head
- Caterpillars with "U" posture when disturbed
- Most damage August-September

* Knock caterpillar groups to ground and crush *Carbaryl, acephate or cyfluthrin pesticides.

Azalea Bark Scale

- Felted or waxy thread egg sac cover scale
- Black sooty-mold fungus often a problem
- Females found on crotches and twigs
- Plants chlorotic and "unthrifty"
- Dieback may occur
- Eggs laid in April, crawlers hatch late spring
- Overwinter as nymphs feeding on bark

* Horticultural oil during late-spring crawler stage or Fall nymph stage. Repeat treatment 14 days later.

Azalea Whitefly

- Waxy-white moth-like adults 1-2mm
- Pupal case oval, flat, orange-yellow
- Black sooty-mold fungus often present
- "Clouds" of whiteflies may launch when disturbed
- Overwinter as nymphs on leaves; adults emerge early spring

*Wash away with water hose
*Ignore in low numbers
*Kontos or imidacloprid


- Small, soft-bodied insects
- Often found at growing tips of plant
- Explosive reproductive capacity
- Long antennae and small "horns" at rear

*Wash away with water hose
*Hort oil, insecticidal soap or many other chemicals are effective

Azalea Stem Borer

- Slender long horned beetles
- Slender yellow, legless grub found inside stem
- Infested twigs wilt and die or break off
- Adults emerge May-June
- Eggs inserted in bark between two rows of holes 1/2 inch apart. Expelled frass sometimes evident.
- Larvae bore down into roots for winter

*Protective bole and base sprays in spring with Astro or Onyx.
* Astro or Onyx foliar sprays in early spring for foliage feeding damage

Peony Scale

- Uncommon, armored grayish-brown scale 2.5mm, long oystershell-like
- Somewhat burrows below bark
- Stems may die back
- One generation; crawlers present in May

* Horticultural oil during crawler stages with follow up at 14 days

Azalea Leafminer

- Yellow, leaf-mining caterpillar, 10-13mm
- Brown blisters on leaf surface when larva small
- Larger larvae emerge to roll leaf tip. Leaves turn yellow, then drop
- Not commonly a problem outdoors. Worst on greenhouse cuttings.

*Orthene, Conserve, Azadirachtin helpful control. Timing important

Azalea Plant Bug

- Beneficial predator of azalea lace bug, red color as a nymph
-Has been used in releases. Insecticidal soaps are preferred treatment when used in the presence of this beneficial

  Voles are not arthropods, but they enjoy the same habitat as azaleas and can be a problem destroying stems and roots below ground. Control is sometimes desired.

Alternative plant suggestions- abelia, barberry, loropetalum, nandina & others

Deciduous azaleas are less susceptible to severe lace bug damage.

Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical.

For assistance, contact your county North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service agent.

Other Resources

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

Originally Prepared by: S. B. Bambara & C. Casey, Extension Entomologists. Photos © J.R. Baker. Permission required.
ENT/ort-134. January, 2005
Web page last reviewed January, 2011.