Common Pest Problems of Southern California and their Solutions

While respectively speaking California horticulturists and garden enthusiasts have less pest and bacterial threats than some other, less dry, American climates, we still have many native pests and now several invasive non-native pests that have begun to find a home with us in Southern California.

1. 95% of pest professionals report treating apartments and condominiums for bed bugs.
2. The amount of food destroyed by rodents each year would be enough to feed 200+ Million people.
3. Rodents can harbor and spread more than 200 human viruses.
4. 56% of Homeowners report having problems with ants within their first year.
5. Termites cause $5 Billion in property damage each year.
6. Mosquitos are by far the most deadly insect for people.


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Some of our most common native pests include but are not limited to;


Aphids occur in colonies of mixed ages, often on new, tender growth. Each is about the size of the head of a pin with bulbous, pear-shaped bodies. Aphids can be black, brown, green, yellow, even red. Like most sucking insects, they leave a sticky waste product called honeydew.


Scale are often unevenly distributed on plant, but tend to concentrate in crannies, around new growth, and especially on the undersides of older leaves. Adults are disc shaped and smaller than the head of a tack, while magnification is necessary to see newly hatched scale. Though many species exist, the most common in the horticultural trade is soft brown scale, which is translucent beige. Once an adult attaches itself to the plant, it becomes immobile. Newly hatched crawlers can be easily killed with running water if they are noticed. Once adults have attached to the leaf they are very resistant to water or other chemical attack. Scale leaves a honeydew residue.

Mealybug, usually hiding in nooks and crannies near new, tender growth, is a soft woolly white and about the same size as an aphid. A layer of cottony growth insulates and protects this sucking insect. Water spray is a less effective control because of this, but alcohol and soap can penetrate. Also easily crushed by physical pressure (e.g. fingers, wooden skewer). Leaves a honeydew residue. Mealybug which attaches to plants below ground is a separate species – mealy will not move from leaves to roots or vice versa.

Spider mites create subtle, dense webbing that coats leaves and provides protection from water or chemical spray. Sucking insects smaller than the head of a pin and difficult to see, magnification makes them easily visible as they crawl through the webbing. While many species exist, the most common in the horticultural trade is a pinkish color, usually translucent, with a pair of dark spots. Feeding damage creates a stippling effect on leaves of silvery gray or pale yellow. Webs of true spiders, generally beneficial in all respects, are much larger, cover greater distances and are more three-dimensional. Mite webbing is smaller in scale, right on the leaf surface or seen in the small spaces between stem and leaf. Infestations are an indication of a deeper cultural problem – try to identify the deeper problem the plant may be experiencing. Mites dislike moisture on leaves or high humidity.


We have a BONIDE classification system that can identify which class of pest your property and garden is having a problem with. It can then determine the best action you can take to solve the problem and the products we have to help you eliminate the pest. Our BONIDE insecticides are all at discounted prices.


But Ramona natives now also have non-native pests to worry about. The two most major influences to our gardens that are not natural to California or even the United States are:

Bagrada Bug (Bagrada hilaris)
Other common name: Painted bug.
Distribution: Known from Africa, southern Asia and southern Europe. In the U.S.: California.
Hosts and damage: A major pest of crop plants from Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family (cabbage, kale, turnip, cauliflower, mustard, broccoli, radish, etc.) in many parts of the Old World. Attacks also papaya, potato, maize, sorghum, cotton and others. Adults and nymphs suck juices of host plants, leave large stippled or wilted areas on the leaves and often stunt the growth of newly formed central shoots or heads of plants. Populations can built up quickly reaching pest proportions.
Field ID: Adults (5-7 mm long) have black, shield-shaped bodies with distinctive white and orange markings. Females are larger than males. Nymphs pass through 5 instars. First instar has reddish-brown head, thorax and bright red abdomen. Later they become darker (adding black color to their body) and develop wing pads. Eggs are oval, creamy-white and turn orange as they age. Females lay them in the soil beneath host plants, but may also deposit them on the leaves.

ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLID (ACP) is a pest that acts as a carrier or vector spreading "huanglongbing" (HLB), a devastating disease of citrus trees. This bacterial disease is transmitted to healthy trees by the psyllid after it feeds on infected plant tissue.

Beyond the pests that ravage your garden, there may be a number of other classic pests that ravage your quality of life.

In parts of the South, the Red Imported Fire Ant is considered to be one of the most common bugs found in homes by pest control companies. Carpenter ants seem to account for a high number pest control calls.
Termites are one of the most destructive pests around.
Termites are social insects, like ants and live in groups. Their work is assigned among specialized members. Because of this they can often appear to the untrained eye, as ants. Many homeowners don’t even know they have a termite problem until damage has occurred.
Cockroaches are survivors and very pesky little creatures. They can live a month without food, but only a week without water. Cockroaches survive in all environments, living in the desert as well as the arctic.


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