More biting insects, apple development
and charcoal-like fungus on apples
By John Fulton
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[August 27, 2016]
More biting insects - First came
the buffalo gnats, then mosquitoes, and still mosquitoes, and now
another biting insect. Having bites for the past week or so from the
new insect. During the late summer small insects, known as insidious
flower bugs and minute pirate bugs (pictured), become real pests by
producing painful bites on people. They are about 1/5 of an inch
long with black and white markings on the back, and belong to the
“true bug” family of insects. They are beneficial insects most of
the time, at least while feeding on small insects and their eggs.
They are present all summer in area fields, flower beds, and
other landscape areas. Most of the summer the insects are
beneficial, but then they become quite the nuisance when their
regular food source runs out. Their painful bite is caused by
their beak breaking your skin. These insects don’t suck blood or
inject venom like mosquitoes.
People differ in their response to the bites. Some people react
to the bites like mosquito bites, with swelling and itching.
Other people have no reaction at all. Control of insidious
flower bugs and minute pirate bugs is not practical. They are
mobile, and the populations change greatly. Wearing dark
clothing on may help, as the insects seem to be attracted to
light colors. Repellents are sometimes effective, but not enough
to make a recommendation. Try the repellents for yourself and
see if they work for you. You can throw the same group of
repellents in to your trial that you stocked up on for the
Apple development and charcoal-like fungus on apples
Apple development seems to be running ahead of normal this year.
Almost 10 days seems to be the norm. Sooty blotch and flyspeck
are caused by different fungi that commonly occur together on
the same fruit. The sooty blotch fungus causes surface
discoloration with black spots or blotches which can be a fourth
of an inch or larger.
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These spots may run together, making the apple appear to be
covered with something like charcoal dust. This disease is more
superficial than anything, since it is only on the skin.
Vigorous rubbing, or scrubbing, will remove the black
discoloration. If you want to be sure, you can always peel the
This disease is most common with moderate temperatures and wet
weather. Wet weather can include heavy dews which don’t get
dried out very well. Anything that cuts down on air circulation
helps promote sooty blotch. Pruning and thinning fruit will help
improve air circulation, and lessen the disease problems.
The best chemical control program is to use a multi-purpose
fruit tree spray, containing captan fungicide, as a
preventative. For this disease, it is recommended to begin by
early June, and continue the program until harvest. For the
organic gardeners, sulfur will help some. However, it is not as
good as the captan. Remember many diseases are preventable in
home fruit production, but they are not curable. Once you see
the problem, it becomes a to-do list item for next year.
[By JOHN FULTON, COUNTY EXTENSION
DIRECTOR SERVING LOGAN, MENARD, AND SANGAMON COUNTIES]