Q: I have big leaf azaleas along the side of our home. Last summer the leaves lost their bright green color. It looked as though the leaves had been bleached. The back of the leaves looked like they had bugs on them. Any advice?
A: I feel sure you have/had azalea lacebugs sucking sap from the leaves. Each tiny white spot you see is a cell that no longer contains chlorophyl. Obviously, that’s not good for the azalea!
The best way to combat these bugs is to drench the soil with a systemic insecticide in the spring. I like imidacloprid (Bayer Tree & Shrub Insecticide). It poisons the sap but does no harm to beneficial insects.
If you notice azalea lacebugs in summer, spray the shrubs with garden insecticide in the evening, so as to protect bees and other beneficials.