The effects of azalea lace bug, Stephanitis pyrioides (Scott), feeding injury on azalea growth and development were investigated using ‘Girard’s Rose’ azaleas during a 2-yr field study in Georgia. Low, medium, and high injury treatments, which corresponded to 6, 8, and 14% maximum canopy area injury, were compared with control azaleas that received no lace bug infestation. Flower number, whole-shrub leaf and stem dry mass, and dry mass and size of new growth tissues were unaffected by treatments. In contrast, growth index measurements, a general measure of variability frequently used for horticultural differentiation, showed significant reductions for all treatments in comparison to control azaleas after 20 wk. Though not directly quantified, this apparent discrepancy may be explained as an artifact of lace bug feeding-induced leaf abscission. Growth index measurements had considerable variability and may not be the most reliable measurement of size. In July 1998, plant canopy densities among azaleas maintained in the high injury treatments were ≈15% less full than the canopies of control shrubs. Predaceous insects had a significant negative association with azalea lace bug number during the 2-yr study. Flower and new tissue production, measured destructively during two growing seasons, revealed azalea tolerance to 14% of maximum canopy area lace bug feeding-injury levels.
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Vol. 94 • No. 1