Holly Berry Midge Pests: Learn About Holly Midge Symptoms And Control

By: Jackie Carroll

In autumn, holly shrubs take on a new character when the rich, green foliage becomes a backdrop for large clusters of red, orange or yellow berries. The berries brighten landscapes at a time when garden color is scarce and provide a feast for birds and other wildlife. When berries fail to ripen into their bright fall and winter colors, the culprit is a small insect called a holly berry midge (Asphondylia ilicicola).

What is Holly Berry Midge?

Adult holly berry midge pests are small flies that resemble mosquitoes. These two-winged flies measure 1/14 to 1/8 inch in length with long legs and antennae. Female holly berry midges lay their eggs inside holly berries, and when the maggots hatch, they feed on the flesh inside the berries.

The berries may continue growing to nearly normal size, but the feeding activity of the larvae prevents them from turning to their bright, ripe colors. Birds and squirrels that would normally enjoy eating the tasty fruit aren’t interested in green berries, so the infested fruit remains on the shrub.

Berry Midge Control

Holly berry midge control is difficult because there is no insecticide that effectively eliminates the larvae within the berries. The larvae develop slowly in fall and winter. When warm weather returns in spring, they complete their development and emerge from the berries as adult midges, ready to lay eggs in the next season’s berries. The best way to control these berry midge bugs is to break their life cycle before they have a chance to mature.

As soon as you see holly midge symptoms, pick the green berries from the shrub and destroy them. You can burn the berries or dump them in a bucket of soapy water to soak for a few days before bagging and discarding them. Don’t put the berries in a compost pile where the berry midge bugs may survive long enough to mature.

Some horticulturalists recommend spraying infested hollies with dormant oil in late winter before the shrub puts on new growth, but dormant oil alone won’t eliminate the problem.

If holly berry midge pests consistently infest shrubs in your area, consider planting midge-resistant cultivars. Your local garden center or nursery can help you select midge-resistant hollies.

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This will be the third time this holly bush will be moved. Can it be done without harming the bush? What will insure it surviving another move?

It can survive. The trick is to reduce stress to the plant as much as you possibly can. This article has some tips on that:

You may also want to prune the shrub back some to reduce the amount of leaves the smaller root system will have to support.

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1) Azalea bark scale, Eriococcus azalea

A scale infestation is indicated by sooty mold on leaves, yellowing of leaves, and twig dieback. This scale is most obvious from May through June when white egg sacs may be found in twig forks. Heavy infestations over several seasons may kill plants. Overwintering immature scales (nymphs) are about 2 mm long, gray, and are usually found in twig forks. This scale primarily attacks azalea and rhododendron but has also been found on andromeda, maple, arborvitae, willow, poplar, and hackberry. There are 2 generations a year in Maryland.

Q. Holly Berries

My 5 year old holly trees are full of green berries. Is there some fertilizer or something that will help these turn red by Christmas? This is the very first time they have had so many berries.

They will turn red on their own and there is nothing you can do to speed up the process. If you find that they do not turn red at all, you may have holly berry midge, which burrows into the berries and prevents them from turning red. Here is more info: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/holly/holly-berry-midge-pests.htm

Materials and methods

Study area

Two study areas were selected in central Japan. One was located in a hilly, rural area of Kimitsu and Kamogawa Cities, Chiba Prefecture. This site includes the Forest of Tokyo University at Chiba, where coniferous plantations, natural broad‐leaved evergreen and coniferous forests, and secondary broad‐leaved forests cover the hills. Ilex integra sparsely occurs in forests and is sometimes domestically planted. The other study area was the Hongo Campus (area = 560 000 m 2 ) at the University of Tokyo, in the urban area of Tokyo. Approximately 4000 trees, mainly Ginkgo biloba L., Zelkova serrata (Thunb.) Makino, and Castanopsis sieboldii (Makino) Hatus. ex T. Yamaz. et Mashiba, grow on the campus.

At the Chiba study site, 70 avian species belonging to 29 families have been recorded ( Bird Research Group of University Forests, The University of Tokyo, 2009 ). Eleven of these are frugivorous, including Hypsipetes amaurotis Temminck (brown‐eared bulbul), Turdus naumanni Temminck, Zosterops japonicus Temminck & Schlegel, Streptopelia orientalis Latham, Bombycilla japonica Siebold, and several muscicapid birds ( Kiyosu, 1978 ). Of the 11 candidate bird species that feed on I. integra red berries, the brown‐eared bulbuls were observed feeding on the berries by both the staff of the University Forest and us. Furthermore, the brown‐eared bulbuls were observed feeding on I. integra berries at the Tokyo study site, although the avian fauna was poor.

Seed wasp

Macrodasyceras hirsutum larvae only eat the seeds of I. integra and never damage the berry flesh ( Kamijo, 1981 ). The adults appear twice a year. On emergence, the overwintering generation selectively lays one to five eggs (Fig. 1) in fertilised seeds from late May until mid‐June ( Takagi et al., 2010 ).

Macrodasyceras hirsutum female inserting an ovipositor into an Ilex integra berry. Bar = 5 mm.

Only one larva develops in each seed. Some of the first‐generation larvae (0–62.5%) develop into adults in August, and the adult females among these lay eggs in uninfested developing seeds. Both remaining first‐ and second‐generation larvae overwinter in seeds within berries attached to twigs ( Takagi et al., 2010 ). They emerge as adults between May and June.

Host plant

Ilex integra is a canopy tree found in broad‐leaved evergreen forests in central and western Japan ( Miyawaki et al., 1983 ). It is dioecious and blooms from late March to mid‐April. Peduncles bearing female flowers emerge from the leaf axils of 1‐year‐old twigs. Immediately after flowering, the ovary begins to develop into a spherical berry. Each berry usually has four cavities enclosed by endocarps, and each cavity contains one ovule at the time of anthesis. The ovules develop into viable seeds covered by hard endocarps (pyrenes). Berries with unfertilised seeds and those with fertilised seeds develop in a similar manner ( Takagi et al., 2010 ). The berries are green in mid‐spring and throughout summer, turning red, which is a conspicuous colour against the deep green foliage of I. integra ( Burns & Dalen, 2002 ), as they ripen in autumn ( Katsuta et al., 1998 ).

Frugivorous bird

The brown‐eared bulbul (Hypsipetes amaurotis) weighs 60–70 g and has a wing span of 122–136 mm ( Kiyosu, 1978 ). Hypsipetes amaurotis is common in Japan and forages on the fruits of many plant species, particularly in the winter ( Kiyosu, 1978 ). These bulbuls consume the fruits of 53 species belonging to 24 plant families in a small area of central Japan ( Fukui, 1995 ). Hypsipetes amaurotis has a bill with the mean gape width ± SE of 17.0 ± 1.7 mm and swallows fruits of different sizes ranging from 3.7 to 13.2 mm in diameter ( Fukui, 1995 ).

Berry colour categories

To standardise the classification of berry colours, twigs were harvested from six I. integra trees (mean height ± SD = 10.3 ± 3.1 m) at the Chiba study site, placed in plastic bags and transported to our laboratory in Tokyo on 16 January 2008. In total, 1671 berries were classified into five colour categories – green, reddish‐green, intermediate colour, greenish‐red and red – to denote change in colour with ripening from green to red. A photograph showing the typical five colour categories of the berries was used as the standard.

Frequency distribution of different‐coloured berries in winter

To determine the frequency distribution of different‐coloured berries in winter in the field, three twigs each were randomly sampled from 10 I. integra trees (mean height ± SD = 11.4 ± 3.3 m) that retained red berries from November 2010 at the Chiba study site on 13 January 2011 and transported to our laboratory. The colour categories for all 274 berries on the 30 twigs were recorded.

Parasitism by seed parasitoid wasps and endosperm development in different‐coloured berries

Untreated berries in the field. To determine the relationship between berry colour and wasp parasitism, the berries harvested on 16 January 2008 at the Chiba study site to standardise colours were placed in transparent plastic bags and kept at 5 °C in the dark (Table 1). Seventy‐two berries were randomly sampled from each colour category and dissected under a microscope to determine the presence or absence of endosperm, the degree of endosperm development (well‐developed, poorly developed, and unfertilised seeds), and the developmental stage of the M. hirsutum wasp as well as whether the wasp was alive or dead in each endocarp. Dissection was completed by 17 February 2008.

Treatment Harvesting No. of trees sampled No. of berries sampled * No. of berries dissected Condition of storage † Dissection completed
Locality Date
Berries untreated in 2008 ‡ Chiba 16 January 2008 6 1671 360 5 °C in the dark 17 February 2008
Berries untreated in 2011 § Chiba 13 January 2011 10 274 141 10 °C under a photoperiod 19 February 2011
Berries protected from bird foraging Chiba 19 January 2010 8 180 180 10 °C under a photoperiod 24 February 2010
Tokyo 6 February 2010 2 66 66 10 °C under a photoperiod 8 February 2010
Berries protected from wasp attack and bird foraging Chiba 19 January 2010 6 449 449 10 °C under a photoperiod 5 March 2010
Tokyo 6 February 2010 1 24 24 10 °C under a photoperiod 8 February 2010
  • * The colours of all berries were recorded.
  • † The photoperiodic regime was LD 8:16 h.
  • ‡ Berries were used to make a standard of colour categories for the berries.
  • § Berries were used to determine the frequency distribution of different‐coloured berries in winter.

In addition, berries that were harvested in January 2011 to determine the frequency distribution of different‐coloured berries were placed in transparent plastic bags and kept at 10 °C under a constant photoperiodic regime of LD 8:16 h (Table 1). Then, 15 berries were randomly sampled from the three twigs for each of nine trees, and six berries were randomly sampled from the twigs of the remaining tree. In total, 141 berries, comprising 70 green, 64 reddish‐green, 3 intermediate‐coloured, and 4 greenish‐red berries, were dissected and their endocarp contents recorded by 19 February 2011.

Records of berry colour at the times of harvest and dissection revealed that storage at cool temperatures did not affect berry colour.

Berries protected from bird foraging. Some untreated berries were consumed by the birds in the field. Therefore, to determine the relationship between berry colour and wasp parasitism in the absence of berry removal by the birds, two branches each of 10 I. integra trees (mean ± SD of height = 7.4 ± 1.4 m) were individually enclosed in polyester gauze bags (Toray Tetoron® Honey queen #9000 Toray Industries Inc., Tokyo, Japan) on 15 and 18 October 2009 in Chiba and Tokyo, respectively (Table 1). This took place after oviposition by the first‐generation adult wasp but before the beginning of berry colour change. Branches with berries were harvested on 19 January and 6 February 2010 in Chiba and Tokyo, respectively, in the same manner as stated earlier. Then, berries were placed in transparent plastic bags and kept at 10 °C under the constant photoperiodic regime.

All 246 berries, comprising 112 green, 50 reddish‐green, 12 intermediate‐coloured, 14 greenish‐red, and 58 red berries, were individually measured with vernier callipers for major‐ and minor‐axis lengths and heights to the nearest 0.05 mm before being dissected to examine the endocarp contents. Dissection was completed on 24 February 2010.

Berries protected from wasp attack and bird foraging. To determine the effects of wasp parasitism on the colour of ripe berries, two branches of each of seven I. integra trees (mean ± SD of height = 7.2 ± 1.6 m) were individually enclosed in polyester gauze bags to protect them from wasp attack on 19 May 2009 (Table 1). These branches were protected between the end of anthesis and the beginning of the emergence of the adult wasp from the overwintering generation. The branches were continuously enclosed in the bags to protect them from both oviposition by two generations of wasps and bird foraging. Branches with berries were harvested on 19 January and 6 February 2010 in Chiba and Tokyo, respectively, placed in transparent plastic bags and kept at 10 °C under the constant photoperiodic regime. Then, the colour of all berries was recorded, and they were dissected under a microscope to determine the content in each endocarp. Dissection was completed on 5 March 2010.

Feeding preference of the birds

To determine whether the frugivorous birds showed any feeding preference between the green and red I. integra berries, 100 red berries were placed on a feeding station made of white plywood (43.5 cm × 39 cm) in a shallow, yellowish‐white plastic box (40 cm × 65 cm × 15 cm). Another 100 green berries were placed on another feeding station. The two feeding stations were placed alongside on the roof of a small bicycle parking area 2.2 m above the ground in the Hongo Campus in the dark, soon after sunset, on 11 February 2008. The remaining number of berries was counted after 24 h 100 fresh red and 100 fresh green berries were placed on the two feeding stations in reverse positions. After 24 h, 100 berries comprising 50 green and 50 red berries were placed on each of the two feeding stations the remaining berries were counted after 24 h. This test was repeated for the next 24 h. These four preference tests were conducted for five consecutive days from 11 to 15 February 2008.

The I. integra berries used in this experiment were harvested at the Chiba study site on 16 January 2008 and kept at 5 °C in the dark. Dissection of 72 randomly sampled berries gave a mean density ± SE of the live seed parasitoid wasp larvae per berry of 2.14 ± 0.02 and 0.08 ± 0.00 for green and red berries, respectively.


A generalised linear mixed model (GLMM) with Poisson distribution and log link was used to determine the effects of the number of live and dead wasp larvae and that of well‐developed, poorly developed and unfertilised seeds on berry colour. The five berry colour categories were scored as follows: 1 = green, 2 = reddish‐green, 3 = intermediate colour, 4 = greenish‐red and 5 = red. The number of live or dead larvae and that of well‐developed, poorly developed, and unfertilised seeds in a berry were considered fixed effects, and trees and localities (Tokyo and Chiba) were considered as random effects. A GLMM with normal distribution was used to determine the effect of the number of well‐developed seeds, endocarps, and live larvae on berry size (major‐ and minor‐axis length and height). The number of well‐developed seeds, endocarps, and live larvae in each berry were considered fixed effects, and trees were considered to be random effects. The analysis was performed using the R 2.10.1 and the lme4 package.

The Akaike information criterion (AIC) corrected for small sample sizes (AICc) was used to assess the models that described the berry colour better. The AIC is a model selection procedure well suited for observational studies because it allows the consideration of non‐exclusive candidate models, which are particularly relevant tools when several factors may influence the response variables ( Johnson & Omland, 2004 ). The AIC value for a given model is a measure of the loss of information resulting from the use of the model to explain a particular pattern. Therefore, the model with the least AIC value is estimated to best suit the dataset ( Burnham & Anderson, 2002 ). In the present study, the models were ranked according to the AICc values models with a difference in the AICc values (ΔAICc) Burnham & Anderson, 2002 ). The Akaike weight was used to assess the relative importance of explanatory variables all candidate models were considered ( Johnson & Omland, 2004 ). This value ranges from 0 to 1 higher values indicate better explanatory power.

Fisher's exact test with Bonferroni's correction was used for all four feeding preference tests.

American Holly

American Holly - Ilex opaca
Holly Family (Aquifoliaceae)

Leaf miner and scale are the worst problems for American holly, but the tree has a long list of potential problems. These include bud moth, beetles, berry midge, whitefly, southern red mite, leaf spots, cankers, tar spot, bacterial blight, spot anthracnose, leaf rot, leaf drop, powdery mildew, twig die back, spine spot and leaf scorch.

  • Native habitat: Massachusetts to Florida, west to Texas and Missouri.
  • Growth habit: Densely pyramidal with branches to the ground when young becomes open, irregular and high branching with age.
  • Tree size: 40 to 50 feet tall with a spread ranging from 18 to 40 feet.
  • Flower and fruit: Female flowers are solitary and dull white male flowers are borne in three- to nine-flowered cymes. Male and female flowers are on separate trees. Fruit is a dull red, berry-like drupe borne on a 1/4-inch stalk. Fruit matures in October and persists into winter.
  • Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, 1½ to 3½ inches long, with large, spiny teeth. Leaves are dull to dark green on top, yellowish green below.
  • Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA Zone 5. Hardiness: Winter hardy to USDA zone 5.

There are more than 1,000 cultivars of American holly. The best cultivars are selected for bright fruit displays, attractive leaves and a dense habit. Because American holly is dioecious, male cultivars are also available. Bernheim Forest and Arboretum in Kentucky has one of the best collections of American holly. Representative cultivars include:

  • ‘Goldie' - A yellow-fruited cultivar. It is an extra heavy fruiter. Other yellow-fruited cultivars include: ‘Canary,' ‘Longwood Gardens,' ‘Oakhill Yellow,' and ‘Morgan Gold.'
  • ‘Grace McCutchin' - A cultivar selected for its orange-red fruit. Other cultivars with this unique color include: ‘Lake City' and ‘Manig.'
  • ‘Jersey Knight' - A male cultivar with dark, shiny foliage. This is one of the Jersey hollies introduced by Dr. E. Orton from Rutgers University. It is an attractive tree even though it does not fruit. ‘Gable' is another male cultivar.
  • ‘Jersey Princess' - An exceptional cultivar with excellent form, dark green glossy foliage and good fruit display. This is one of the Jersey hollies introduced by Dr. E. Orton from Rutgers University.
  • Other heavy-fruiting cultivars with good form include: ‘Amy,' ‘Cheerful,' ‘Merry Christmas,' ‘ Miss Helen,' ‘Old Heavy Berry,' ‘Parkton,' ‘Torchbearer,' and ‘William Paca.' ‘Judy Evans' -
  • Good all-around American holly for its conical shape, deep green leaves and red fruit display. Selected by Theodore Klein from a plant growing in Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Ky.

Additional information:
One male American holly should be planted for every three females to ensure production of berries on female trees. The fruit is an excellent food source for wildlife. Raw berries are toxic to humans. Native Americans preserved holly berries for useas decorative buttons. These were highly prized trade items.

American holly wood has been used to make furniture, canes and scroll work. The wood has also been stained black and substituted for ebony in inlay work. Holly wood is ideal for taking dyes, and is used for much of the black and white inlaid lines in musical instruments and furniture. It is also used for knife handles and black piano keys.

American holly is the state tree of Delaware. A great deal of superstition once surrounded holly. It was believed that planting hollies near buildings would provide protection from witchcraft and lightning. It was also believed that the flowers of holly could be used to turn water to ice.

Likas na Lunas para sa Citrus Mites

Sapagkat ang bunga ng iyong citrus ay nakakain, pinakamahusay na gumamit ng mga pamamaraan na walang kemikal na kontrol ng citrus mite. Ang pinakamahusay na pamamaraan ng pagbibigay ng isang natural na lunas para sa citrus mites ay upang itaguyod ang isang malusog na tirahan para sa wildlife dahil maraming mga species ng mga ibon ang kakain sa mga peste.

Ang mga ladybird beetle ay kapaki-pakinabang sa mga insekto sa hardin para sa maraming uri ng pagkontrol sa peste at lalo na kapaki-pakinabang sa pagliit ng mga populasyon ng mite. Mayroong iba pang mga uri ng mites, na pumapatay sa mga citrus mite. Upang madagdagan ang mga pagkakaiba-iba ng mga mites, pati na rin ang iba pang mga kapaki-pakinabang na insekto, iwasan ang paggamit ng isang malawak na spectrum insecticide sa iyong bakuran.

First aid kit para sa lupa, o Paano pumili ng mga pataba?

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