Yard and Garden: May 31, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for May 31, 2019. 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 2, 2019. 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: Kyle Broderick, Plant Pathology Extension Educator, UNL

1. The first caller of the show wants to know how to control sandburs without chemicals to avoid harming birds and squirrels?

A. Sandburs can be controlled with pre-emergent grass herbicides in the spring or post-emergent herbicides for grasses such as Roundup after they have germinated later in the spring. All pesticides are approved by the EPA to ensure safety for wildlife and birds as long as they are handled correctly, but it is a personal preference for use of chemicals. Integrated Pest Management should always be used to help be the most effective and to be the most economical. For sandburs, hoeing or hand pulling can be effective to keep seed from producing for next year. Also, if you can get something else to grow in that area, that will help to outcompete with the sandburs. If the soil is compacted and sandy, where sandburs prefer, it might be better to add organic matter to the soil to improve the growing location for turf or other plants.

2. This caller wants to know how to get rid of carpenter bees?

A. Carpenter bees are a good pollinator insect. If they aren’t damaging the structure of a building, they can be left alone. However, if they are digging into framing for a shed or other building, filling the holes in with wood putty should work. Otherwise, you can spray a little sevin in the holes as well. You might also try putting up a Bee Hotel that may be more desirable to them than the structure of your building. View this article on Carpenter Bees for more information. View this NebGuide on Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel to learn how to build and place a bee hotel on your property.

India Meal moth sitting on wall with rule for size comparison.
Indian Meal Moth Adult by a Ruler. Photo by Vicki Jedlicka, Extension Assistant

3. An insect was brought in for identification and control methods.

A. This insect is an Indian Meal Moth, a common pantry pest. This could have been brought in with foods purchased at the grocery store. Be sure to store all products containing cereal, grain, rice, flour, or pasta in air tight, insect proof containers such as canisters or Tupperware containers. Things like cake mixes or flour can be stored in the freezer. Clean up all cabinet shelves from crumbs. Discard infested food products. For more information on Pantry Pests, visit this website from Lancaster County Extension.

4. A caller has spots in the yard with a small depression that has a powdery material and what looks like the remnants of a mushroom. What causes this and can it be controlled?

A. This could be from a puffball. Puffballs are a type of mushroom that when they become mature many spores will puff out of the structure that does not have a stalk like traditional mushrooms. After it has puffed, the pieces left behind are leathery and dark brown to black in color. Puffballs can get into a lawn from low fertility and from decaying tree roots or other organic matter. Maintain good lawn care practices and maintain adequate Nitrogen fertilizer that will help to break down woody tissues. Dig out the puffballs as they are seen in the area.

5. This caller has a maple tree that had a great deal of seeds dropped this spring. Now, there are millions of tiny maple seedlings growing in the lawn. What can be done to kill these seedlings off?

A. In the lawn, just continue to mow, the maple tree saplings will not be able to continually regrow and will die. In a garden setting, it would be best to hand pull or hoe out the seedlings. In a garden, careful applications of Roundup could be used as long as desirable plants are not sprayed. Mulch will also help to kill off the seedlings in garden locations.

6. Are bagworms out yet?

A. No, they haven’t been seen emerging yet. We are behind a little this year due to the cooler weather. Be checking often for emergence in your trees.

7. A caller has an ash tree that had green balls develop last year on the tree. They are still on the tree, what can be done about these? Should she be treating for Emerald Ash Borer?

A. The green ball structures are from an ash flower gall. This gall is from tiny eriophyid mites that feed on the flowers in the early spring. These galls can stay on the tree for more than one season, so these on her tree are likely from last year. Treatment is not necessary because these galls are an aesthetic issue and will not harm the tree. If treating the tree, sprays with sevin could be done in the early spring as the flowers develop. As for Emerald Ash Borer, it is best to wait until the borer is found within 15 miles of the tree to prevent excess damage to the tree and to avoid using chemicals for an insect that hasn’t been found in the area. Watch for signs of EAB in your tree and consult an arborist or your local Extension Office if you see these signs. Damage from EAB consists of: top dieback, bark falling off the tree, D-shaped exit holes, increased woodpecker damage, or increased suckering at the base of the tree.