Rhododendrons and Oregon go together like springtime and hope. Unfortunately rhodys also go with a beautiful but nasty pest: the azalea lace bug. Chemeketa horticulture student Barry Finley co-authored an article in Digger, the trade publication of the Oregon Nursery Association, about biological alternatives to pesticides for controlling lace bugs.
Lace bugs suck the chlorophyll out of the leaves then excrete their fecal deposits. Nobody wants to see that happen to their shrubs. The conventional practice for controlling this mess is insecticides but that has the drawback of harming beneficial insects, and they are often applied close to people and pets. A natural predator of lace bugs would diminish the risks of using chemicals.
Finley, who is also an intern at the North Willamette Research and Extension Center, participated in testing the use of green lacewings to manage lacebugs. Their conclusion is that lacewings are a promising alternative and they intend to do more research.