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I have several azaleas and some rhododendron that have become infested with lacebug. Some sites say to remove the plant and start over though this seems a bit draconian to me.

One suggestion was to use a soil drench with imidacloprid. Many commercial products use this but I'm rather worried about creating a toxic environment for bees. There is some debate over whether systemic use puts enough toxin in pollen to affect bees but I don't really want to risk this.

My questions:

  1. Has anyone successfully rid themselves (or their plants) of lacebug? How?
  2. Any data on systemics and their role in CCD?
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Jury's still out on imidproclid soil drench and its effect on bees, but I do know the EU is soon going to ban the use of nicotinoids generally for a minimum of two years, to see what impact it has, or doesn't have, on bees in particular. In general, any nicotinoid based product is likely to be harmful to bees and other pollinators, regardless of how it is used.

The recommendation to remove infested plants is, as far as I know, only something that's said when the plants have developed a lot of white leaves, which usually means they're not long for this world anyway. It's also apparent that azaleas and rhododendrons planted in sun are more prone to infestation, along with those planted where water is sometimes in short supply, so these are the ones more likely to die and which owners might consider removing.

About the only thing you can do that won't harm other pollinators is to use a neem oil based product, spraying regularly from early spring onwards, ensuring that you drench the undersides of leaves when you do spray. This probably means fortnightly at least, and even then, this might not be enough to keep the plants healthy, but its worth a try.

  • I'll probably wait until it finishes blooming and then dry the systemic on one plant. See what happens. – ethrbunny Feb 17 '15 at 20:58

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