garden symphylans and Japanese Maples

Discussion in 'Maples' started by Spacehog, Jun 18, 2012.

  1. Spacehog

    Spacehog Member

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    Location:
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    Well, I kind of feel stupid now. I noticed some very small centipede type creatures in the container of my Moonrise Japanese Maple. I didn't think much of it, but later when I was planting the tree, I saw about 8-10 more of them. I had already cut apart the container, so I figured that I'd just go ahead and plant the tree and then figure out what the things were. Apparently they are called garden symphylans and they sound like a real pain. I kept reading stuff about how they especially like to eat new roots and such. I also read that it is much easier to control their numbers if you submerge your plant in water and wait for them to come to the surface. Too bad I just finished planting the tree... Oops.

    I also have read that dealing with them once you have plants already growing is difficult and maybe impossible. To make matters worse, I was reading that they do well in rich organic soil and will increase in number if it contains manure. Well as it happens, part of the compost I used to amend the soil fits that description perfectly. As icing on the cake I read that they garden symphylans love soil where there are a lot of earthworms because they need the worm holes to get around. Have I mentioned that my garden has an abundance of earthworms?

    I'm starting to feel some anxiety about how this is all going to turn out. If anyone has ideas about how to deal with these little villains please let me know. I am considering buying a systemic insect control product, but I will only use that if I am sure that these guys are a big problem. I'd prefer not to use the systemic insect control because it's toxic.

    I am very new to gardening, in fact this is my first year gardening. I've been trying to read whatever I can, but nothing substitutes for advice from veterans. So if you have any thoughts or experience I'd love to hear whatever it is you have to say about my situation.
     
  2. Sea Witch

    Sea Witch Active Member

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    Location:
    Vancouver Island, BC, Canada, Zone 7
    spacehog, I'm not familiar with that particular pest--and others may disagree--but if it will make a difference, and you have planted that tree recently (like within the last 30 days), and the tree is small, myself, I would dig it up, soak it and start over.

    Trees that have just been planted are very easy to dig up. (don't ask me how I know this). ;o)
     
  3. JT1

    JT1 Contributor 10 Years

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    Location:
    Euclid, OH USA
    Was the tree brought in from the Pacific NW ?

    Garden Symphylans are not very common in our area due to the harsh winters. With that said, we did have a very mild winter and I am having problems with leaf hoppers, which is something I never encountered before, so I guess anything is possible. Most garden symphlans are very small and don't like light, so most gardeners do not even know they have a problem because they are so hard to see and find in the soil. Most bugs like garden symphylans will not kill a tree. They tend to be a bigger problem for people who try to grow something from seed.

    I am not a bug expert, so keep this in mind. Last year, I had a problem with small brownish gray Millipedes in the soil. They may have been brought in by soil or mulch that came from another area.

    I used the insect killer that attaches to the garden hose and sprayed the bed (sold at the big box store). It killed them and I have not seen them since. You may want to try it.

    If you decide to take action like pulling the tree out, you need to wait for it to cool down. It supposed to be 95 this week and that is not good transplant weather. You may end up doing more harm than good.

    More info on landscape pests that you may encounter in Ohio:
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2151.html
     
  4. Spacehog

    Spacehog Member

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    Yes! The tree was brought in from the Pacific NW! Wow, you definitely know your stuff JT1. I would not have seen the things except that I looked very carefully when I had the tree out of the container and before I put it in the soil. I saw several of them even though they are quite small. I got rid of the ones that I saw, but the container was a one gallon container, so I'm sure more are lurking inside of there. That is good news about how they don't like our cold winters. If all else fails I suppose I'll just hope for a normal winter. Of course, I don't want the winter to do too much damage either. Oh well, haha, at least they don't seem to be killers of trees. I don't want them nibbling on the roots of this tree though! I think I might go ahead with the insect killer like you suggest. It just frustrates me that I had a good shot at stopping them when I had the tree out of its container, but I missed it. I may eventually dig up the tree and soak it, but yeah as you said JT1, it's like the high temperature for the year right now so I think I'll wait. Thanks for the ideas though! I'm still so surprised that you knew my tree was from the Pacific NW! Good call.
     
  5. ajaykalra

    ajaykalra Member

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    Location:
    Yardley, PA, USA (Zone 6)
    Spacehog,

    Over the years, I have planted many maples and other trees/plants with this insect in my compost/soil without any impact that I know of. I simply ignore it. I am in Zone 6 and I do have this in my soil/compost.

    Also note that I am not a bug expert. However I do own close to 100 maples (pots and ground) and I have always ignored insects. I like organic material in my soil for my plants.

    Ajay
     
  6. Spacehog

    Spacehog Member

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    Well that's cool Ajay, I appreciate the optimism. Normally I leave the insects alone as you said. Actually, that is kind of what I did in this case. I did remove the ones that I saw from the potted tree because they seemed to be up to no good. But I didn't really think to try and get rid of all of them, especially when I thought they were just normal centipedes. But when I found out that they especially love eating new roots, I couldn't help but worry some. I really don't want some bug eating the new roots of a tree that I am trying to get established. So I think I will try to take a crack at them this year. Assuming my tree makes it through the winter though, I will probably stop messing with them unless my tree is showing signs of a serious infestation or something. I am glad to hear that they don't seem to be as much of a problem in our area though.
     

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