41May 16, 2012

Mother’s Day weekend had beautiful weather. Gardeners were in the mood to plant and plant they did! It was a great start to the season for many people.

As we plant, the insects always begin to appear. Let me take a bit of time to tell you about some of the critters that have been active in the gardens.
Aphids have been out in abundance. Aphids come in various colors. They can be black, they can be green, they can be clear. Whatever the color, they can usually be found sucking the juices out of the new growth on plants. Rose bushes are a favorite food along with viburnum and lupine. There are many different sprays that work well at controlling aphids. Just make sure that if you are spraying vegetable plants that the plant is listed on the product label.
A week or so of rainy weather usually means that the slugs are active. Slugs usually feed only at night. During a period of rainy and overcast weather, you may find them feeding during the day. They can make short work of destroying hosta and lettuce plants, to name a few. There is a good organic control containing iron phosphate. If you sprinkle the granules around plants attacked by slugs, you will put a significant dent in the population in a short period of time.
Caterpillars of all types have been active. The main culprit appears to be the winter moth caterpillar. This is one of a handful of relatively new pests to invade our area. They feed on practically all of the deciduous trees, but they really like maples and any of the ornamental flowering trees. An application of the organic control called Bt will make quick work of this pest.

Another caterpillar that has made it arrival on the scene is the saw fly larva. This critter feeds on long needled evergreens and has a particular fondness for Mugho pines. They can strip a plant of needles in a short period of time. Bt works well on this insect.
If you have planted any of your vegetables, you may have noticed that the following morning, some of the plants appear to have been cut off at the soil line. This is the work of the cutworm. They live in the soil and will attack new plants as soon as they sense the plants are in the ground. There are many powders and liquids that you can apply to the soil. This should be done as soon as you are done planting. Again, check the product label if you are applying it to vegetable plants.

Although not an insect, your lawn may have problems from a fungus disease. If you look at your lawn in the early morning and it appears that the lawn had a pink appearance to the blades of grass, then your lawn is infected with a fungus disease called red thread. This disease forms during rainy weather and often shows up when the grass has not been cut. The combination of rain and long grass makes a perfect breeding ground. An application of a fungicide followed up by another application in 2 weeks should control this disease.

Well, this gives you quite a few things to look for in your gardens. Take some time to look at your lawn and gardens every few days. This will allow you to spot problems early on and allow you to treat the problem before it gets out of hand.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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