Posts tagged beetle

Good vs. Evil: Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles

Asian lady beetle

Asian lady beetle - a good bug (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Their names are similar and they’re from the same region of the world, so I can see why some people are still confused about Asian lady beetles and Japanese beetles.  But when it comes down to it, there’s really no comparison. The bug pictured here – the reddish/orange lady beetle, is a beneficial insect. It feeds on aphids and other plant pests and doesn’t destroy anything, though I realize some people resent their intrusion in homes in the fall. On the other hand, the copper-colored Japanese beetle, a recent foreign invader in Iowa, is known to devour at least 300 plants, including hollyhocks, roses, raspberries, linden trees and grapes. If you see your leaves turning to lace, the likely culprit is the Japanese beetle.  Japanese beetles have no known predators here, other than me. So feel free to get rid of as many as you can. As mentioned previously, the most environmentally friendly method is to knock them into a bucket of soapy water when they’re sluggish – early evening seems to be the best time. If you have other suggestions – maybe from our East Coast readers and others who have learned to cope with Japanese beetles – please add your comments below.

Japanese beetles (photo/Cindy Hadish)

Japanese beetles - not a good bug, or just plain evil? (photo/Cindy Hadish)

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Ash trees, anthracnose and Emerald Ash Borer

Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, shares the following about anthracnose and Emerald Ash Borer:

    Anthracnose – big word, hard to wrap your tongue around.  Anthracnose is a common foliage disease of shade trees in Iowa, including the ash tree.  Multiple inquiries to the Master Garden Hort-Line this morning were from folks whose ash trees were dropping leaves, an unusual occurrence in the spring.  A good guess would indicate that most of those folks were concerned that their wonderful ash tree had become infested with the Emerald Ash Borer.   Be aware that experts are seeing if the Emerald Ash Borer has invaded Iowa by crossing the river into the Northeastern portion of the state.

    A bit about each of these diseases: 

    Ash trees can be infested with anthracnose that is caused by a fungus.  There are a number of closely related fungi, but each is host specific to the tree it infects.  Often symptoms appear serious, but generally the damage caused is minimal and doesn’t seriously affect mature shade trees.  Symptoms include tan to black blotches; immature leaves becoming distorted from abnormal leaf expansion; young leaves dying and falling soon after a heavy infection.  If a severe infection does occur early in the growing season, the trees may defoliate and then a new set of leaves may emerge.  Following are some suggestions to decrease the severity of anthracnose and minimize its impact on your tree’s health:

–          Clean up and destroy fallen leaves:  use your lawn mower bagger

–          Prune the tree to remove diseased branches and properly dispose of them.

–          Prune to open the canopy for better air circulation. Fungi relish damp conditions. Pruning is generally not recommended now, but better to prune than lose the tree.

     The Emerald Ash Borer prefers Green Ash and Black Ash Trees, but will tackle any ash when the previous two mentioned have all been killed.  The borers emerge from early spring to late summer, but evidence may not be visible for up to a year.  Signs of infestation are D-shaped holes in the bark of the trunk and branches and shoots growing from the base of the tree which is the most telltale sign.  The beetle will effectively girdle the tree.  

Following are some suggestions to help reduce infestation and impact of the Emerald Ash Borer:     

–          Avoid planting ash trees

–          Learn the signs and symptoms of the Emerald Ash Borer

–          If camping, purchase firewood at or near the campsite but thoroughly inspect firewood prior to purchase

–          Do not bring extra firewood home with you.

     Maintaining a healthy environment for your trees and plants is of utmost importance.  A routine inspection of your yard and garden is necessary.  Discuss abnormalities with your local extension service, Master Gardeners, or a reputable garden center.  Pictures or actual plant samples are wonderful aids in diagnosing problems. 

REMEMBER THE LINN COUNTY MASTER GARDENER PLANT SALE THIS SATURDAY, MAY 16TH FROM 8:00 TO NOON IN THE EXTENSION OFFICE PARKING LOT AT 3279 7TH AVE. IN MARION.

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City gardens ready for potato planting on Good Friday

imga00711Good news for gardeners who lease plots from the city and want to get their potatoes planted on Good Friday… 

Despite some weather setbacks, Cedar Rapids parks staff finished tilling and marking all three of the city garden sites this week. Cedar Rapids leases out 150 plots at Ellis Park; 102 at Squaw Creek Park and 60 at the Tuma Soccer Complex. As of today, only 97  plots were rented at  the Ellis garden, which was flooded out for the season last June. Soil tests for benzene, arsenic and other chemicals have come back at safe levels, but some of the people who gardened at Ellis may have also been flooded out of their homes and won’t be back to garden.  

I spoke to E.B. Kunkle of Cedar Rapids today, who appeared to be the first gardener back at the Ellis site.

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. Kunkle

E.B. was planting onion sets. Last year, he was able to harvest green onions, spinach and radishes before the floods wiped out everything. Gardeners were advised against returning last year due to possible contaminants. Today’s weather was in the 50s and the soil was dry enough to get started, at least on onions. E.B. has tried growing potatoes in the past, but they were overcome by (my nemesis) the potato beetle.

Gardening lore calls for potatoes to be planted on Good Friday, which is tomorrow (April 10, 2009.) I doubt that I’ll get mine in that day, but as usual, turned to my uncle, Craig Musel, for advice. Uncle Craig gardens near Chelsea, Iowa, and always manages to win at least a few blue ribbons for his potatoes at the famous and fabulous Iowa State Fair. I talked to him Monday, and he said he started planting his potatoes about three weeks earlier, which would be mid-March. His tip? “I plant them whenever I can get them in the ground,” he said and keeps planting “until I’m done.”  Those blue ribbon winners – never want to reveal their secrets.

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