These days, most people are wearing masks when out in public for personal protection for themselves or others. In nature, there are a few pests that have their own type of face coverings, markings, or that other types of protective covers or behavior.
Adult masked chafer beetle (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)
Below are a few such pests that you might be encountering now in your gardens and landscapes.
Masked chafers are golden brown beetles with dark heads that give them their name. The adults are not typically considered pests although they do show up on window screens, in pools, or wander into the home. The immatures, white C-shaped grubs, are considers pests because they feed on the roots of grasses and possibly other plants. Learn more about this masked pest here.
Another masked pest that you may see around the landscape are raccoons. These mammals can be 2 to 3 feet long and have distinct markings which look like a black mask over their eyes. Raccoons prefer wooded areas but may interact with human populations when looking for nesting sites or searching for food in your garden, compost, or trash bins. Read more about how to exclude or management raccoons in the Pest Notes: Raccoons.
Juvenile racoon (Credit: L Fitzhugh)
Pests with Covers
Besides masks, several pests have or create their own protective gear. Armored scales, such as San Jose scales, have hard shells that protect them from predators. The actual insect hides underneath the cover and feeds on plants. There are a number of armored scales that are pests in California. See our Pest Notes: Scales for more information.
San Jose scales (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)
Fruittree leafroller larva (Credit: Jack Kelly Clark)
Leafrollers are a group of moths that feed and pupate within rolled-up leaves. The immature caterpillars roll or web together the leaf to use as protective cover. Several species of leafrollers can be found in California. The fruittree leafroller is the most common and can be found on many ornamental trees and fruit and nut trees including ash, birch, maple, poplar, almond, apple, apricot, citrus, pear, and walnut.
Visit the UC IPM website to find out more about pests and personal protective equipment needed when applying pesticides. Stay safe this summer!