Hibiscus Gall Midge #147160 - Ask Extension

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Hibiscus Gall Midge #147160

Asked August 14, 2013, 3:50 PM EDT

I live in Houston and for a week or so, my hibiscus seem to produce only tiny buds which turn yellow and fall off.  I thought it was thrips until I read about the gall midge.  I have been picking the buds off so not to let them hit the ground.  I would prefer to use a natural predator if there is one, but if not, do you recommend a certain systemic to control them.  I have quite a few hibiscus and they all seem to be doing this.  In the picture the bottom bud is already turning yellow.  HELP!

While I'm asking, what do you recommend for thrips?

Thanks in advance for your time. 

Harris County Texas

Expert Response

The hibiscus gall midge can be quite frustrating. The adult lays her eggs in the hibiscus bud which cuases it to yellow and drop as the egg matures into a larvae.

There are several things to do to break the life cycle of the midge.
  1. You are already collecting the dropped buds (good job), continue to do so to prevent the larvae from continuing to grow. Place the buds in a ziploc bag and dispose of them.
  2. Treat the plant with a systemic insecticide like Ortho Systemic Insect Killer. This type of product allows the active ingredient to be taken up by the plant and infect the insect as it feeds on it. Other products that will work need to contain the active ingredient: disyston, acephate or imidacloprid. Make sure to follow the label directions.
  3. I am not aware of a beneficial insect that will control the midge. I would think trapping the adults on yellow sticky cards might help to control the adult population.
If you treat with the systemic, that should also help to control your thrips population. Applying spinosad or neem oil will also help with the thrips.

Thanks for the question.
Paul Winski Replied August 15, 2013, 3:52 PM EDT

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