Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spiders Indoors

Heavy rains may force some ground nesting spiders to "high ground", which may bring them onto the foundation and siding as well as indoors. Debris that remains on the ground for an extended time may attract insects and other small arthropods that are suitable prey for spiders. You may also run into spider webs strung across gaps in vegetation. Although many spiders can bite, the majority of them are harmless and their venom has little, if any, effect on people (unless a person is hypersensitive). Black widow spiders are found in many areas of North Carolina, but actual encounters with people are relatively rare. Recluse spiders have been found in *some* areas of the state but they are an extreme rarity. Mechanical control (vacuuming corners and under/behind furniture, swatting the spider with a rolled-up magazine or newspaper, etc.) should be more than adequate for the random spider that shows up indoors.Applying pesticides indoors for spiders probably isn't necessary, but if it is your preference then you can use any common household insecticide, concentrating your efforts on baseboards, corners and under furniture where where spiders often hide. Some suggested pesticides can be found in the NC Agricultural Chemicals Manual . You can reduce the likelihood of an accidental spider bite by wearing gloves whenever handling debris or articles that have been undisturbed for some time either indoors and outdoors. Click here for more information on spiders.

For more informstion on spiders take a look at the following website: www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/spiders.htm

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

August Garden Chores

  • Mow tall fescue lawns to 2 ½ to 3 inch height. Research has shown that mowing to the proper height will help control weeds.
  • Begin treating for Japanese beetle grubs in August to reduce next year’s pest levels.
  • Allow grass clippings to fall on the ground, they add nutrients to the soil.
  • Do NOT prune spring flowering shrubs such as azaleas and rhododendrons now, their buds have formed for next spring.
  • Do NOT fertilize shrubs in August, September, October or November.
  • Root prune any large shrubs that will be transplanted in November. See enclosed article about root pruning for more information.
  • Continue to spray tomatoes with fungicide to prevent blight diseases.
  • Remember to water tender vegetable plants through these dry months with a minimum of 1 inch of water per week.
  • Consider taking your soil samples now, there turn around for results is only about 1 week.
  • This is perfect for timing fall lime applications.
  • Most garden chores are best done in the early morning or early evening when the heat index is lower.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Millipedes are common occasional pests that sometimes invade buildings, particularly when the weather turns hot and dry. While millipedes sometimes enter in large numbers, they do not bite, sting, or transmit diseases, nor do they infest food, clothing or dry, structurally sound wood. Millipedes vary in both color and size. The most common species that invades buildings is the" garden millipede", which is brownish-black in color and about one inch long. Although millipedes are often called "thousandleggers", they actually have far fewer legs, but each body segment has two pairs of very short legs. When disturbed, millipedes often curl up into a "C" shape and remain motionless. They crawl slowly and protect themselves by secreting cyanide-like compound that has an unpleasant odor . Some people confuse millipedes with centipedes, which look somewhat similar. Centipedes have only one pair of legs per body segment and the legs are usually longer than those on millipedes. Centipedes also tend to move about more quickly than millipedes.

Pesticides are typically a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Emphasis should be placed first on reducing conditions and access points favorable to millipede invasions:

Minimize Moisture, Remove Debris - The most effective, long-term measure for reducing entry of millipedes (and many other pests) is to reduce excess moisture and hiding places, especially near the foundation.

Seal Pest Entry Points – Seal cracks and openings in the outside foundation wall, and around the sills of doors and basement windows. Install door sweeps on all exterior entry doors, and apply caulk along the bottom outside edge and sides of door thresholds. Seal expansion joints where outdoor patios, sunrooms and sidewalks abut the foundation. Expansion joints and gaps should also be sealed along the bottom of basement walls on the interior to reduce entry of pests and moisture from outdoors.

Chemical control - Application of insecticides along baseboards and other interior living areas of the home do not really stop millipede invasions. Once indoors, millipedes end up in kitchens, living rooms, etc. and soon die from a lack of moisture. Remove them with a vacuum cleaner or broom.

For additional information about millipedes see: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/millipedes.htm

Master Your Garden Lecture Series

Henderson County Extension Master Gardeners are offering a series of lectures to the public. There will be a small fee of $5.00 per participant for each program to support future educational efforts by the Master Gardeners. All lectures will be held on Mondays in August, September, and October at 3:30pm in the classroom at the Bullington Center.

Fall 2007 Schedule

August 6th - Success with Lawns – Ernie Grose

August 20th – Selecting Ornamental Grasses – Mike Covell

September 17thWinter Garden Preparation to Build your

Compost Pile – Jane Davis

October 1stBeauty from Bulbs - Pierre Hart

October 15th - Planting for Winter Interest – Alan Mizeras

To register for these or other upcoming Mastering Your Garden Lectures, call the Extension office at 697-4891. Keep checking our website http://henderson.ces.ncsu.edu/ for more information on upcoming lectures or click here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bullington Center Plant Camp - July 23-27

The Bullington Center in Hendersonville is taking applications for a fun and educational week exploring the amazing world of plants. Each fun filled day will be loaded with crafts and activities occurring on the beautiful Bullington Center grounds. Plant Camp is aimed for rising 5th, 6th, and 7th graders and is limited to 15 campers. Activities will occur from 9:00am - 3:00pm with childcare available from 3:00pm - 5:00pm for an additional charge. Contact the Coordinator John Murphy at 698-6104 for more information. Sign up now... space is limited.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Green June Beetles

Green June Beetles Have Arrived

I saw my first green June beetle this past week while working out in my yard. This means that I am sure to start getting calls over the next few weeks. This article from North Carolina Pest News should help to answer many of your questions concerning this annual visitor to your gardens.

I have to believe that laying in wait are millions of green June beetles. The next decent rain event should set off an emergence and buzzing across the landscape and pastures. These beetles are metallic green and four times the size of Japanese beetles.

Despite the buzzing around turf and pasture, green June beetles do little harm to plants and no harm to people. They can be handled without fear. Though there are possible control measures available for turf (later in the season), I have rarely ever seen this justified in residential turf. Grubs are sometimes a problem in pastures and heavy manure-applied fields. Adults are sometimes a problem in fruit trees and vines. Adult populations should start to decline after two weeks and they should be gone after three to four weeks. Patience is the best recommendation.

For more information on green June beetles, see the following web sites:

Ornamental and Turf Insect Information Note No. 67

Forages and Pastures Insect Note No. 02

Shade Trees Oozing Slime .... Yuck

Over the past several growing seasons, there have been more inquiries about the foul-smelling and unsightly seepage of sap from the trunk of shade trees that is commonly called slime flux or wet wood. It occurs in apple, birch, elm, hemlock, maple, mulberry, oak, poplar and willow. In North Carolina slime flux is very common in large, mature, landscape oaks, tulip poplar and elms. This disease is not normally a serious problem if the tree is otherwise healthy.

Slime flux is caused when bacteria infects the wood causing it to become discolored or appear water soaked (wet wood). Gas (carbon dioxide) is produced by fermentation by bacteria. The gas produces pressure in the wood. This pressure forces sap from the trunk through cracks in branch crotch unions, pruning wounds, lawn mower wounds, other injuries and occasionally unwounded bark. This oozing of sap is termed fluxing. The flux is colorless to tan at first but darkens up exposure to the air. As fluxing continues, large areas of the bark become soaked. Many different microorganisms grow in the flux producing a foul or alcoholic smell. Various types of insects are attracted to the slime flux.

There is no curative or preventive measures for slime flux except to maintain trees in a general good state of vigor and minimize wounds and injuries. More damage can be done to the tree in attempting to cure slime flux than the flux will do alone.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Using Japanese Beetle Traps

Japanese beetles are out in full force in Western North Carolina, many homeowners continue to deal with damage to their lawns and a few ornamental plants in the landscape.

Here are a few tips to successfully controlling this pesky insect. Carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, imidacloprid (Merit) are good choices. Many of the newer lawn and garden multi-insect products are also effective. Pyrethroid containing chemicals are slightly more persistant. Spinosad and Neem based products give a little protection. Roses or shrubs may also be protected by covering with light netting. Handpicking adults from plants is an almost hourly battle. Homemade concoctions and blended beetle cocktail repellants are mildly effective, and may need reapplication every one or two days.

Japanese beetle traps may catch up to 75% of the beetles that approach them. Traps may lower beetle populations from 30% (1 trap per acre) up to 39% (10 traps per acre) if placed throughout a neighborhood. The trapped beetles must be emptied from the traps every one to two days to prevent them from rotting and releasing ammonia which is repellant to other Japanese beetles.

Traps are commercially available. Homemade traps are also effective in catching beetles if baited with phenylethyl proportionate plus eugenol lure available at garden centers and hardware stores. The traps are much more effective in attracting Japanese beetles than in trapping them. Consequently, traps should be placed as far away from the plants to be protected as possible. If traps are used, place far away from susceptible plants. Traps, alone, are not likely to give satisfactory protection to plants being eaten by adult Japanese beetles and pesticides may be required, anyway.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wilting Squash Plants?

Could be the Squash Vine Borer!

Damage first appears as a sudden wilting of a long runner or an entire plant. Closer examination reveals masses of coarse, greenish-yellow excrement which the borer has pushed out from the stem. Splitting the stem cap may reveal a thick, white, wrinkled, brown-headed caterpillar up to 1 inch long and almost 1/4 inch thick.

If only a few vines are present, keep a close check on them. Should any wilting occur, check the base of plants for signs of excrement and borer damage. If there is evidence of borer activity, remove the borer by slitting the vine with a sharp knife and removing the larva. Then cover the injured area with moist soil. Some gardeners put a shovelful of soil at one or more locations along each vine. This is to encourage the plant to develop a supplementary root system and thus overcome squash vine borer attacks at the base.

Once borers have gained entrance into stems, little control is possible; hence, early detection is critical. Excrement should be watched for around the bases of plants, and when first noticed, insecticide sprays should begin. Success of any insecticidal treatment depends on early and repeated treatment. Apply the spray to the stems near the base of the plant and repeat weekly during egg laying periods (early June and early August). Since the insect passes the winter in the ground, squash should not follow squash. Land should be disked in the fall to expose the cocoons and then plowed deeply the following spring. Vines should always be destroyed following harvest to prevent late caterpillars from completing their development.