In autumn do you have plants with leaves that look silver? If the leaf surface is silver, and underneath looks like a dusting of fine brown dots, then I would say you (or really I should say your plant) likely has thrips.
Signs of thrips show in autumn, generally on Rhodos, Camellias, Azaleas, Viburnum etc. what you may not realise is the bugs are out now, and the damage you see can be avoided by spraying now. Thrips are tiny insects that are only just visible to the naked eye, they disfigure plants, foliage and flowers, and transmit viruses.
Prevention - much insect damage in the garden can also be prevented by paying attention to some key gardening practices. Quite simply, healthy soil promotes healthy plants, and healthy plants are less susceptible to being targeted by insects; therefore watering, feeding and pruning are essential for the first step in insect control. Sometimes, however, these are just not enough.
Sprays - which spray to use often depends on the feeding method of the insect, however it is important with all sprays to have thorough coverage including the undersides of the leaves.
With the changes in legalisation, garden centres will no longer be selling the run of the mill sprays that us every day gardeners previously used. These include Target, Shield, Carbaryl, Maldison and Soil and Insect Prills. Some of the sprays we are now recommending are Mavrik, Confidor, Success Ultra, the New Insect Hit or the new Rose Force, and all of these will combat thrips. I recommend you spray now, with a follow up spray in two-three weeks’ time, spraying both the surface and under the leaves.
There is one amazing and unknown product which I use and recommend often; this is a tree health band. You cut the band to size, soak in the correct chemical, and then pin it on the stem of the plant for 4-6 weeks. This tree health band can be used for all sorts of insects too, not just thrips, and is ideal on any non-edible plant, it’s also great if your plant is too big to spray, like a granddaddy Rhodo!