Thursday, September 20, 2007

Burn Ban Lifted

RALEIGH – Recent rains across the state have allowed the N.C. Division of Forest Resources to lift its ban on open burning for all 100 counties in North Carolina.

The statewide ban on open burning, which was implemented Aug. 21, is canceled effective at noon Tuesday Sept. 18th.

Officials with the Division of Forest Resources decided to lift the burning ban because of Friday’s storm that dumped several inches of rain across the state. While recent rainfall and lower temperatures have reduced the fire danger, this small amount of precipitation has not ended drought conditions the state is facing. Residents should be especially careful as meteorological conditions could cause North Carolina to continue having warmer temperatures and below normal rainfall during the upcoming fire season. Officials are warning that if the drought continues, and there is an increase in the number of wildfires, the ban on open burning could be reinstated.

For more information, click here for the full article from NC Department of Forest Resources.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Beech Blight Aphid Boogie

Here is another great photo that was sent into me this week. This aphid is known as the beech blight aphid and it is one of several woolly aphids commonly encountered throughout North Carolina.

The aphids first become apparent in early August and as populations continue to grow they become increasingly noticeable. Very high numbers can be seen on individual branches, sometimes extending onto leaves, with lots of sooty mold built up below. They do not usually cause much damage to overall tree health, but we occasionally see dieback on very heavily infested branches.

However, this aphid does exhibit a curious response to potential predators. When disturbed, the entire colony will raise their "cottony" abdomens, and begin wagging these fluffy derrieres in unison at the aggressor.

See the video below for an example if this "boogie-like" behavior on video from youtube.

Beech Blight Aphid

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tobacco Hornworm Control

Check out this great photo taken by Master Gardener Betty Lockwood of the pupal cocoons of a parasitic wasp on the tobacco hornworm. Other hornworms (Sphingidae) are parasitized by these parasitic insects of the order Hymenoptera.

The adult wasp inserts its eggs beneath the skin of the hornworm larva. The eggs hatch and the young wasps feed on the hornworm until they pupate as shown in the photo. This parasite is an important factor in natural control of hornworms. Pretty cool huh!

See this link for youtube below to watch a few parasitic wasps hatch. Youtube

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Fair Time

The Haywood County Fair begins this month. If you haven’t already picked up a fair brochure you can stop by the Haywood County Extension Center to get one. This has been a difficult year for gardening but I am sure that many of our local gardeners will have quality entries in the horticulture categories. If you plan to enter your flowers and vegetables, be sure to follow the guidelines outlined in the fair brochure. We will once again be offering cash prizes for entries in each category as well for best of show rosettes. Entries should be brought to the fairgrounds on Monday, September 24th between the hours of 9am-7pm. Master Gardeners will be on hand to help you submit your entries. Judging will take place on Tuesday and doors will open to the public at 5pm on that day. Hope to see you at the fair, and Good Luck!