Yard and Garden: June 24, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 24, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jim Kalisch, Insect Diagnostician for UNL Extension

1. The first caller of the day has summer squash that grows about 3 inches long then they get soft and fall off of the plant. What would cause this?

A. This is probably blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the blossom end of the fruit of the plant rots, just as the name implies. This condition occurs often in the beginning of the season and will fade out later in the growing season. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil. Blossom end rot occurs when plants cannot pull calcium up quickly enough for developing tissues. Calcium must be dissolved in water to move within a plant, so dry soils can increase the problem.

2. A caller has tomatoes that the leaves are starting to curl up. They have buckets around the plants and each night they fill the bucket up with water. They also have white spots on the pumpkins. What is wrong with these plants and how can they be salvaged?

A. The water regime being followed is not the best practice. The buckets are holding a lot of heat in around the plants and filling each of these buckets every night is giving the plants a great deal of water. It would be best, this late in the season, to remove the buckets to reduce heat stress and use a sprinkler for a couple of hours or soaker hose for a few hours every other night to give the plants the right amount of water. The white spots on the pumpkins could be either powdery mildew or sunscald. Leave them alone, it should fade out and it will not cause a great deal of damage to the plants.

blossom end rot zucchini

The Zucchini on the left in this photo has blossom end rot

3. This caller has cucumbers and squash that the blossom end of them are rotting and then they fall off the vine. What would cause this?

A. This is blossom end rot. This is an environmental condition where the blossom end of the fruit of the plant rots, just as the name implies. This condition occurs often in the beginning of the season and will fade out later in the growing season. Blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency in the fruit. In Nebraska, there is rarely a lack of calcium in the soil. Blossom end rot occurs when plants cannot pull calcium up quickly enough for developing tissues. Calcium must be dissolved in water to move within a plant, so dry soils can increase the problem.

4. A caller has peppers that had one bloom and now they are not setting any peppers on the plant. He fertilized it earlier this spring. What would cause this?

A. This would be due to low pollination. In this heat the insects are not moving around as much to pollinate. Give it time and the plants should begin blooming in a week or so.

5. This caller has a pin oak that the leaves are curled on the edges. What is wrong with this tree?

A. This could be from a gall gnat. This will cause the leaf margin to roll tightly. It could also be from herbicide drift. There is no control for either problem and the tree should outgrow both of these problems.

 

Stable Flies on Dog JAK140[1]

Stable Flies from the back of a Dog, Photo by Jim Kalisch, UNL Entomology

6. An email came in with the following question: The other day I found a fly on my dog’s head. When I went to grab it off, there was blood on her. Upon closer inspection, it looked more like a cross between a fly ad a bee. It’s triangle-shaped. What is it, how can I protect my dog?

A. This could be either a robber fly or a horse or deer fly or a stable fly. All of them can be kept at bay with fly repellent sprays or collars. These contain pyrethrins, essential oils and other ingredients not harmful to dogs. DEET is not advised for pets. It would be best if the dog owner to got information from a vet. Other tactics would be to reduce or eliminate fly breeding substrates, such as lawn clippings, pools of water, etc.

7. A caller planted string beans this year from both new and old seed. For some reason, the new seed seems to have more vigor even though they are planted right next to each other in the garden. Is it true that the new seed is more vigorous than the old seed?

A. Not necessarily. If the 2 plants were different varieties that would make a difference. Seed stored correctly should grow just fine for a few years after original sale. However, if the seed is stored in a location of high humidity or high temperatures, that can reduce the vigor in the seed.

8. This caller has a hanging basket of petunias. The buds on the plant are brown and full of black “balls”. She cut the plant back and put Sevin insecticide on it. What would cause this? Does she need to cut the buds off of the plant?

A. This is probably tobacco budworm. The black “balls” are probably fecal pellets from the caterpillar. Sevin may not be effective on this pest, so try Bt to kill only caterpillars and not harm any pollinators. Cut off the bloom to encourage new blooms to grow.

9. A caller has tomato plants that have grown to 4-6 feet tall. Now the leaves are curling and some are turning brown/black. What would cause this?

A. This caller has been using a hand wand to water at the base plant individually for a few minutes. This is not enough water for such large plants. It would be better to do a deep watering with the use of a soaker hose for about 4 hours 2-3 times per week or with a sprinkler for 1-2 hours 2-3 times per week if natural rains do not occur. Vegetables need about 1 inch of water per week for optimum growth. A little over that is fine, but we don’t want more than 2 inches, unless it comes as rain that we can’t control.

10. The final caller of the day has potatoes that were bored through the stem. What could that be and how can it be controlled? This caller also has green beans with yellow spots on the leaves and the beans are very curled rather than straight. What would cause this?

A. The potatoes have stalk borer. This insect pest should be about through with their damaging stage so there is no need to control it. As for the green beans, the leaves have a leaf spot fungus, there is no need to control it in a home garden, it should fade soon as the weather has warmed up and dried up. Remove these infected beans, that could be due to the hot weather that has caused a malformation in the growth of the beans, it should fade as the season continues on.

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Mosquitoes and the Zika Virus

mosquito

Mosquitoes are a huge irritation in the summer months. Mosquitoes are a type of insect that is in the same order as flies, which means they are closely related to flies and gnats, which all tend to bother us. Mosquitoes are also vectors of many different diseases. Because of these factors, we need to do what we can to eliminate the problem and reduce mosquito populations.

The best way to avoid any pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes is to prevent being bitten. Like any pest management program, IPM is the strategy that works best to prevent mosquito bites at home in the yard. Sanitation is a must to eliminate breeding sites and harborage locations of mosquitoes. Female mosquitoes lay eggs on the surface of standing water and the larvae (“wigglers”) require water to survive before pupation. Removal of stagnant water in a variety of containers such as flowerpots, buckets, gutters, pool covers, used tires, and dog bowls will break the mosquito life cycle. A general rule is to dump any water that has been standing for more than five days.

Culex mosquitoes are active biters in the evening, so it is important to wear long sleeves and pants or permethrin-treated clothing when outdoors between dusk and dawn. The effective insect repellents applied to skin include those with the active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, or the oil of lemon eucalyptus.

As far as chemical control, Mosquito Dunks contain the active ingredient bacterium, Bacillus thurengiensis israelensis (Bti), which is toxic to mosquito larvae when consumed, but non-toxic to humans, pets, pollinators, fish, and other wildlife. They are sold in hardware stores, and will dissolve in standing water such as water troughs, fishponds, rain barrels, and birdbaths. They are effective immediately and can last for a month.

It is not recommend to use foggers or adulticide treatments by homeowners. These treatments are not effective for more than a couple of days and should only be used a few days ahead of a large outdoor get-together if absolutely necessary.

It is best to utilize IPM to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes because they spread many diseases including West Nile Virus and the Zika virus. Most people who get West Nile Virus have no symptoms or have flu-like symptoms. However, from 2001 to 2009 1,100 deaths in the U.S. were attributed to West Nile Virus. Most of the deaths occurred in people ages 65 and older.

As for the Zika Virus, it has been known about since 1947, but has just recently hit the news as it spreads more. Zika does appear to have minimal impacts on adult humans, but if a pregnant woman becomes infected, her fetus may suffer from developmental abnormatlities such as microcephaly. The good news is that the main mosquito that transmits Zika isn’t in Nebraska. The mosquito that most commonly transmits zika to humans is the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Recently, a zika vector was found in Richardson County Nebraska, but this was Aedes albopictus, which has been found in Nebraska before and is the lesser of the Zika vectors. Aedes aegypti is the more competent vector as it feeds almost exclusively on people, according to Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Entomologist. This summer, some counties will be trapping for mosquitoes in Nebraska to monitor for the presence of the mosquito that could carry Zika. We are not on high alert for Zika in Nebraska, but it is still a good idea to protect yourself from mosquito bites to reduce the chance of West Nile and other mosquito vectored diseases.

Zika mosquito map, J. Larson

Map showing the potential range of A. aegypti the mosquito that can transmit Zika virus, from acreage.unl.edu/zika-virus

Information for this article came from the article Zika Virus, the June Pest of the Month on the Acreage Insights webpage for Nebraska Extension. It was written by Drs. Jody Green and Jonathan Larson, Nebraska Extension Educators.

Yard and Garden: June 17, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 17, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Connie Fisk, Cass County Extension

1. The first caller of the day transplanted pear and maple trees in December. Recently, these trees turned brown and lost their leaves. What would cause this?

A. This year the weather has been ever-changing. The drastic change from wet and rainy to hot and dry has been hard on many of our plants. It sounds like these plants need watered. Water on a slow trickle about one time per week for 45 minutes-1 hour and make sure the trees have a mulch ring that is at least 2-3 feet out from the base of the tree and only about 2-3 inches deep.

2. This caller has a locust tree that he topped and wanted to use the removed branches to make a trellis for his vegetable garden. Now, the branches are sitting in a pile and sawdust has developed around them. What is this and is it concerning for his vegetable garden?

A. This would be either carpenter ants working on the decaying material of the branches or it could be another type of insect that is emerging from the branch that was developing in the branch over the winter months. This will not cause any problems to your vegetable garden.

*Note: It is not recommended to top a tree due to the weak, unproductive branches that will emerge from the tree.

3. A caller has scotch moss that she purchased for her fairy garden. She purchased it one month ago and has not had time to plant it into the fairy garden. Now, part of it has turned brown in the center of the plant. What can she do to fix this?

A. It should be planted into a garden or the fairy garden as soon as possible to ensure it gets room to grow. Also, this could be due to watering issues. She can prune out the dead growth and the rest should be fine if it gets planted.

4. This caller has 2 Northstar dwarf cherry trees that were planted this spring. One is fine but the other has not leaved out this spring. Will it survive?

A. No, it will probably not live at this point. It won’t hurt anything to leave it in for this growing season to see if it comes out of it, but it is late in the season for no growth to be on the tree. Water it early in the morning to try to help it come out of possible late dormancy.

5. A caller has apple trees that were planted last year. They are 6-7 feet tall. One tree is beginning to bend over from the top, the leaves are green with some yellow leaves throughout. What would cause this?

A. This could be due to fireblight. This is a bacterial diseases that can cause dead leaves and the end of the infected branches will bend over like a shepherds hook. Prune out the infected area by cutting back into the healthy area 8-12 inches past where the scorched area appears. Clean pruners in a bleach water solution between each cut to reduce the risk of spreading the disease. Do not compost infected branches.

6. A caller has a 30 foot tall blue spruce that they would like to trim off some of the bottom branches. Is this an ok practice?

A. Yes, that can be done. The branches removed will not regrow and underneath the weeds and grasses will need to be controlled. It would be best to then use mulch and/or a groundcover under the tree to help with weeds and mowing around it.

7. This caller has a peach tree that split down the middle of the trunk. Can it be saved?

A. No, any assistance will be just to help the tree limp along until death. It would be best to replace the tree at this point. Once the tree splits it is then open to disease and insect issues with no way to remedy it for long-term management.

8. A caller has maple trees that are 5 years old and now the trunks look like the bark is peeling off and you can see the inside. This damage is on the South and West sides of the tree. What is it from?

A. This would be sunscald, also called southwest disease because the damage occurs on the south and west sides of the tree. Sunscald occurs in thin barked trees during the winter when the cells of the tree rapidly freeze and thaw on warm winter days. Now that the damage has occurred there is no control for it. For new, thin barked trees, they should be wrapped during the winter months for the first few years of their lives. The damage is minimal and won’t kill the tree.

9. This caller has hollyhocks that the lower leaves are drying up and falling off of the plant. What would cause that? Also, there are mums blooming now. Can she cut them back?

A. This sounds like a fungal leaf disease due to the wet spring. Remove the leaves and destroy them. Mums can be pinched back throughout the summer months to keep them at a good size and to help with blooms in the fall. They can be pinched back until the 4th of July.

10. A caller wanted to know what causes blue-green algae in a lake?

A. It is a combination of environment, low water levels, and nutrients found in the lake. For more information visit: http://water.unl.edu/lakes/toxicalgae-faqs

11. This caller lost 2 peach trees and a plum to borers. Is it common? Did the tree have borers when it was purchased? Can others be saved?

A. Borers are common in peach trees. They can be treated. For information on treating these borers, visit the spray guides section on https://food.unl.edu/local-food-production

12. An email question came through with an algae problem in a birdbath. What can be done to control this algae?

A. This birdbath needs to be cleaned more often and scrubbed out to remove algae growing on the bottom of the birdbath. For more information visit: http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/resources/waterbirds.shtml

13. A caller has a leaf tree that has developed peaches every year except for the past 2 years. What would be causing this?

A. A late frost has occurred the past 2 growing seasons which would cause a decrease if not an entire loss of the peaches that had begun before this frost occurred. There has also been low pollination the past couple of years due to wet spring during the pollination period.

14. This caller has a established silver maples that are suckering. Can this be sprayed with anything to stop the suckers from forming?

A. Unfortunately, no chemicals can be used on suckers because this growth is coming from the roots of the main tree. Chemicals used on the suckers will kill the entire tree. The best defense for suckers is to continually prune them out.

15. A caller has apples that tend to get worms and spots on the fruits. What can be done to help with these problems?

A. For backyard trees it might be best to just tolerate occasional insect and disease pests. If the problems are minimal, it is much less work to just cut out the bad spots for home use. You can use insecticides, just follow the regulations on the spray guides found at: https://food.unl.edu/local-food-production Sanitation is also important, remove and destroy all fruits off the tree and off the ground and leaves around the tree in the fall to destroy overwintering locations for these pests.

puffball

Puffballs are identified by their solid structure throughout the fruiting body, which is typically spherical in shape. (Photo from NebGuide Mushrooms, Fairy Rings, and Other Nuisance Fungi in the Landscape courtesy of R. Mulrooney, University of Delaware)

16. The final caller of the day has a fungus in the lawn that is like a ball on top of the ground that when pushed on releases many spores. What would this be?

A. This would be a puffball. A type of mushroom. There is no control for them, it is best to just remove the puffball structures as you see them and destroy them.

Yard and Garden: June 10, 2016

Yard & Garden for blogThis is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 10, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Paul Hay, Gage County Extension

1. The first caller of the day has a small Dwarf Alberta Spruce that is turning brown. What would cause this?

A. This would be from spider mites. This particular tree species is very susceptible to spider mites. They can be controlled with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils, or a general insecticide such as a permethrin product.

2. This caller wanted to know if it was still ok to apply the second fertilizer application for the lawn?

A. Yes, you can do one around Memorial Day. I would suggest waiting until after this heat wave passes through and make sure the lawn is well-watered when you do fertilize, so you don’t fertilize to a drought-stressed plant which can cause leaf burn.

3. What would cause Clematis leaves to turn yellow, the plants still bloomed fine this year?

A. Clematis has a problem with Iron chlorosis. This could be iron chlorosis which can be treated with an iron fertilizer.

2015-09-22 18.45.39

Squash bugs on zucchini

4. A caller wanted to know what the best control for squash bugs in the garden would be?

A. Squash bugs will become active soon. Look on the underside of the leaves of your cucurbit plants such as cucumber, zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and melons. Squash bugs lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves. If you find the eggs, squash the eggs or remove the leaves. You can also spray for them. Spray on a rotation of every 10-14 days throughout the growing season. Switch between at least 2 of the following: sevin, eight, or bifenthrin.

5. This caller has rocks near the lawn and near some trees. There are weeds growing up through the rocks. Can glyphosate, or Roundup, be used around these trees?

A. If the trees are not close enough to be spraying directly on the trunk or leaves, then it will be fine. Glyphosate is not mobile through the soil like some chemicals.

6. This caller wanted to know what to do about the gnats outside? He cannot go outside right now without being attacked by gnats.

A. There is no longterm cure for gnats, much like mosquitoes. Using bug sprays, especially those containing DEET, will help the most. If you have an outdoor event coming up, you can treat the lawn and surrounding plants with sevin or other general insecticide, but these will not last for more than 2-3 days.

7. Is it too late to plant sweet potatoes? What can you do about grasshoppers in the landscape?

A. No, it is not too late to plant sweet potatoes. This is a warm season crop that really doesn’t like the early spring planting. They will do fine if planted in late May to early June. For grasshoppers in the landscape, they can be sprayed with any general insecticide. If in or nearby the vegetable garden use sevin, eight, or bifenthrin for safety of the produce. Be sure to spray the insecticides in the ditch, roadside, and fence rows where grasshoppers are found in high numbers.

8.  This caller has hemlock in the pasture. Is it poisonous? How can he control it so his cattle don’t eat it?

A. Yes, poison hemlock is poisonous if eaten, not if it is touched. Cattle can be poisoned by it, but they typically don’t eat the poison hemlock if there is an alternate food source. Use 2,4-D or Grazon in the pasture to control poison hemlock or dig it out.

*Don’t use 2,4-D this late in the season around landscape plants and never use Grazon or other products that contain Tordon in a landscape setting.

9. A caller has common mullein in his pasture. How can it be controlled?

A. Common mullein is best controlled with 2,4-D or Grazon. Make sure you spray down into the heart of the plant to get the chemical past the hairy leaves. It is best to spray the smaller plants, it would be too late to spray the larger plants that already have a flower stalk on them. Removal of the flower stalks will help reduce seed production from the full grown plants.

10. This caller has a 16 foot river birch that was planted last fall. Now the leaves have turned yellow and are beginning to fall off of the tree. Can it get too much water? What would cause this problem? She hasn’t been watering the tree much yet since it was planted in the fall.

A. Yes, plants can be overwatered to cause death. Newly planted trees need to be watered because they have no root system developed. A tree that was transplanted at this large of a size is going to have a great deal of transplant shock to overcome. Water was sitting in the hole when the tree was planted, so there may be an issue with water draining from the location. Use a probe or long screwdriver to see if the tree needs water. Push the probe into the soil 12-18 inches, if it goes in easy it doesn’t need water, if it is hard to push the probe in very far, the tree needs to be watered.

11. The final caller of the day wanted to install an electronic timer for watering his garden. What would be the best time to set his timer to water his garden?

A. 4 am-10 am is the best time to water any plants. This helps to water the plants while they are already wet from the dew period. It also helps to water early in the day so that the plants will dry out before night. Plants that are wet and cooler overnight introduce a great environment for diseases to occur. To reduce diseases, it is best to water early in the morning.

Leaf Spot Diseases

Rainbow

Spring rains are always great for our plants. It helps to replenish our lakes and streams and helps bring the soils back to a point of good saturation after a dry winter and before a dry, hot summer. However, when we see many days with a lot of rain and overcast skies, this can also be detrimental to our plants.

This year we are seeing a lot of fungal leaf spot diseases that look terrible on our trees. These leaf diseases are causing the leaves of many of our deciduous trees to get brown spots, turn yellow, and eventually fall off of the tree. As damaging as this looks, it is actually a minor disease and does not cause major stress to the trees. The diseases we have been seeing include anthracnose, ash rust, cedar-apple rust, apple scab, and other leaf spots.

ash anthracnose, Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, bugwood

Ash Anthracnose Photo by Jason Sharman, Vitalitree, Bugwood.org

Anthracnose is a fungal leaf spot disease that can occur on many different host trees and shrubs. There are a number of fungi that cause anthracnose and typically they are host specific. What this means is that there are a lot of different trees that are affected by anthracnose, but oak anthracnose is only found on oak trees, ash anthracnose is only found on ash trees, and so on. So, the disease won’t spread between tree species but multiple fungi may be present in a landscape.

The symptoms of anthracnose include small brown or dead spots on the leaves, dead leaf margins and tips, large dead blotches between the leaf veins and premature defoliation may also occur. If premature defoliation occurs early in the growing season, the tree should put on new growth, so don’t be too concerned if many leaves fall off the tree this spring. This is often a problem on the lower and inner leaves and branches most heavily while the top of the tree and outside ends of branches will show little to no symptoms.

Anthracnose is a disease that thrives in cool, wet weather like what we saw this spring. The disease is less of a problem if the temperature is above 60 degrees when the buds begin to break dormancy in the spring. Anthracnose overwinters in diseased leaves and branches that are left on the ground. Be sure to always rake and destroy fallen leaves around susceptible trees. Because this disease is not very damaging to the plants, there is no need to use pesticides for control. In the summer heat the disease will fade out.

Ash rust is another disease we will be seeing soon if we haven’t already seen it in our ash trees this spring. This shows up as orange spots on the leaves. On the underside of the leaves, finger-like protrusions may develop, for the spores to spread. As with Anthracnose, this is not a harmful disease to the tree. It is best to discard all of the fallen leaves each fall and maintain mulch around trees.

We are also seeing a problem right now called Hackberry decline. Many of our hackberry trees in the area are losing most of their leaves and it looks like fall. This decline is due to many stressors to the tree such as herbicide injury, drought, poorly drained soils, and weather extremes. All of these problems have been occurring to our trees over the past few years and the combination of these problems is starting to cause problems to our trees. This is something that the tree should overcome and there is no control for it.

Yard and Garden: June 3, 2016

Yard & Garden for blog

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for June 3, 2016. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 5, 2016. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Sarah Browning, Lancaster County Extension

1. The first caller of the day has strawberries that are all developing but they are rotten fruits. What would cause this and can it be fixed?

A. This is probably due to a fruit rot disease that is caused by a fungus due to the high rains this year. At this point in the season, fungicides will not help and you will not get much of a crop from these plants. If this is a problem seen every year, a liquid copper fungicide can be applied next year. You should start spraying the plants at petal fall right after the blooms finish next season. To help with this disease, also use a mulch around the plants and avoid overhead irrigation.

2. A caller wanted to know if wildflowers do better where grass doesn’t grow very well? Can he still plant wildflowers now?

A. Wildflowers don’t really do better where grass won’t grow, but the area to plant wildflowers does need to be prepared for the wildflowers. It is best to clean up the area with a glyphosate product, such as Roundup, then till the area up and seed the wildflowers. This can still be done now, it will be fine through most of the spring and fall months. Unless you are planting annual wildflowers, which will reseed for each year, you will not get many blooms this growing season. It will take a few years to get the wildflowers going well and weed control will be necessary. If you don’t want any grasses growing in the wildflower patch, you can use grass herbicides and not harm the wildflowers.

3. This caller has pansies that are being eaten, the small white dots are on the underside of the leaves. What would this be and how can they be controlled?

A. This could be aphids which can be controlled with eight, bifenthrin, or malathion. However, pansies are nearing the end of their life as they are a cool season plant. So you could just remove the pansies and plant something else to reduce the problem and not have to use pesticides.

4. A caller has been dealing with high populations of grasshoppers recently. They are feeding heavily on his potatoes. What can be done to control them?

A. In the potatoes, you will need to use an insecticide labeled for use in a vegetable garden such as bifenthrin, sevin, or eight. It would also be helpful to keep the grass mowed around the garden and to treat it with some of these insecticides. Also, grasshoppers are often found in roadsides, so be sure to spray these areas as well to help reduce the overall population.

5. When can peonies and iris be cut back?

A. You can cut off the flower stalks on both of these plants as soon as they are done blooming. However, you need to wait until they die back in the fall before removing any leaves from the plant.

6. This caller has a lawn with patches of darkened areas throughout it. What would cause this?

A. Walk through the dark areas to see if the blades pop back up. If the blades stay down after they are walked on and you can see you footprints, it is due to drought stress and the lawn needs to be watered. Also, look closely at the leaf blades to see if there are small, black/gray structures like tiny balls. This would be slime mold which is also showing up in the lawns now. Slime molds are not a serious problem to the lawn.

7. This caller has a weeping willow. He wants to know if he can prune the branches up so he can mow underneath it?

A. Pruning for a weeping willow is best done in the fall but it can be done now. You can limb it up and shorten some of the branches to make it more accessible for mowing. However, don’t remove more than 1/3 of the plant in one growing season.

8. A caller wanted to know about mosquito control. He had found a recipe online that was with household items and it claims to control mosquitoes for 80 days. Will this work?

A. No. The best control for mosquito control outdoors only last for a few days. It is best, if you are having an outdoor BBQ, to spray the lawn and shrubs around the lawn up to 2 days prior to the event for management of mosquitoes. You can use sevin or eight or malathion or bifenthrin for control. Be sure to use bugspray containing DEET while outdoors. Also, make sure you have no standing water in your lawn to reduce the population of mosquitoes.

Roseslug Collage

Rose slug on the leaf on the left, damage from rose slugs on the right.

9. This caller has roses that have leaves that look shredded or with many holes in them. What can be sprayed on the roses to help them with this problem?

A. This was brought into the extension office later for identification. It was rose slugs. These are small, translucent, green caterpillars with a brown head found on the underside of the leaves. Rose slugs are actually the immature of a sawfly and not a slug at all. They are mostly damaging to the aesthetics of the plant and are not that harmful but they can be treated with sevin dust on the underside of the leaves if they are heavily damaging the plant. Be careful to not get the sevin on the flowers to not harm bees.

10. What digs holes 6-7″ deep straight down into the mulch around trees?

A. This could be either squirrels or skunks or possums that would be digging for insects. Clean up around the tree to help deter the animals.

11. The final caller of the day has a cedar windbreak with a lot of scrub trees growing among the cedars. How can those be controlled?

A. It is best to just cut off the scrub trees and do a stump treatment with a concentrated roundup product. Spraying in the windbreak can damage the cedar trees.