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A Cure for Hibiscus Bud Drop

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Flower-free hibiscus have become common in many neighborhoods. It's not that your plants aren't trying, but there is a little pest that has been causing major bud loss. If you look underneath the plants, you may see lots of buds on the ground. These have obviously fallen off without maturing. Many are plump and may have been showing some color when they were attacked by the hibiscus midge.
The adult of this insect is rarely seen, but when you do see it, it looks like a small fly. It's also rare that gardeners see the immature and very small maggot-like insects in the buds. 

If you want to check them, put a few fallen buds in a small plastic bag and allow them to stay in the home for day or two. Then look in the bag for a very small orange larva stage. You could also open one or more of the buds and look just under the green covering for the same larva. When found, touch one and it often jumps.


Hibiscus Midge
(click to enlarge)
Photo: Tom MacCubbin

 
Because the buds are a major source of the next generation of pest, it's best to rake up and destroy all the buds that have fallen on the ground. This drop may continue for a week or two even when the plants have been treated to control the midges.

Gardeners with hibiscus bud drop caused by midges can apply a spray to stop the insect's progress. Obtain one of the synthetic pyrethroid sprays from your local garden center and follow label instructions. Almost every company has its own brand that's made for general insect control.