Yellow Jacket Wasps

The New 2007 Model by Mr. Greenjeans

TheGardenLady recently attended a lecture about yellow jacket wasps, or simply known as wasps in other  English speaking countries. In England there is a wasp watch. Most of the yellow jacket wasps are black and yellow. But don’t confuse them with the black and yellow honey bee. Yellow Jackets are wasps not bees and are NOT covered with the tan-brown dense hair that is on the honey bee worker. A very good article on yellow jacket wasps can be found on the bug info site.

Thirst by Jason A. Samfield

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How to Prevent Thrips From Distorting Rose Flowers

Teeming with life by elizabethdonoghue

My roses are in bloom already. It is amazing to see roses in bloom two to four weeks early. But since all the other flowers opened early, why shouldn’t the roses?

One dreams that insects wouldn’t enjoy the roses as much as I do; but unfortunately roses are one of the most beloved flowers for all sorts of nasty insects.  I had been lucky, except for Japanese beetles, I had not had many insect problems on my roses in past years. But all good things must come to an end.

It was such a warm winter where I live with so few hard frosts and so little deep snow, I worried that this year I might see more insect problems than I have had in the past. And this year my roses have proven that I did not worry in vain. I have an extraordinary amount of buds on the rose bushes and the leaves looked so beautiful and healthy: but in the last few days I have never seen so many chewed leaves and damaged flowers as they open. From the looks of the rose flowers, I suspect I have thrips in my roses.

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Thompson & Morgan: An Excellent International Seed Catalog

bug of the day by urtica

Most catalogs have a limited area they can ship seeds or plants because of all the different countries’ rules and regulations regarding seeds and plant material coming into their country. In the United States some seeds or plants cannot even be shipped into certain states.

With all the international movement of people and things, countries fear invasive plants being brought in that will take over the native habitat or they worry about diseases or insects which, while being contained in the country of origin, destroy crops in their new “adopted” country. In the US we have many such problems caused by unwelcome pests coming in and it is a major economic problem. For example, one problem is an insect called the Asian Longhorned Beetle (see photo above) which came to the United states from China and is now decimating our hardwood trees like the Maple tree, the willow tree and the Elm tree (see here).

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Trying to meet the challenges of gardening


Gardening can be a serious challenge for the gardener.  Consider the weather.  Who knows what to do in a profound drought like the one the MidWest experienced this summer? You cannot water plants when the water level goes down too low. Who knows what to do in extensive floods like the ones the MidWest experienced earlier in the late spring/early summer? Consider the insects.  They either go after the garden, like Japanese beetles do, or they go after the gardener, like the mosquitoes or gnats.  Consider the wild animals.  Everyone knows about the problems caused by deer or rabbits.

But we humans are the smart creatures on this earth who should be able to solve these problems. Aren’t we?

We have had dry weather where I live, so I water my flowers daily. I am religious about this job. But the next day after I water my plants, they still look wilted and sad.  I tried holding some basil between my lips as I was told that Italian farmers did to prevent mosquitoes. I wasn’t bitten by the mosquitoes, so maybe the basil helped. And I sprayed my flowers with Liquid Fence to deter the deer and rabbits. But they, too, want what I plant.

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Two Knock Out Rose Problems

Sawfly by Mean and Pinchy

TheGardenLady received two questions from two people who were having problems with knock out roses.  Here is the first question.

I am very upset with my knock out roses. They have small green worms covering the leafs and eating holes in them. They also get on the perennial hibiscus. Is there anything I can use to get rid of the pest without using pesticides.

Here is an answer to this problem from the Knock Out Rose people:

Sounds like Rose slug or sawfly – they usually hang out on the underside of the foliage. You may want to try hand picking them off as you see them or try spraying a horticultural oil or a soap and water solution to suffocate the worms.

Here is the second question.

This is the second year for my roses. I have just had a few blooms to open but I have noticeable problems with them. Most of the leaves have very small holes and it seems like the blooms are smaller and ligher in color than last year’s. The leave problem is also on my older roses. I have treated them once with a spray of 1 tsp. each of baking soda, insecticical soap and horticultural oil in a qt. of water. I do not see any insects on either side of the leaves. Can you tell what the problem may be and how to help fix it?

Here is an answer to this problem from the Knock Out Rose people:

It sounds like your roses may be affected by rose slug or sawfly. The larvae is small and typically green in color (they usually hang out on the underside of the foliage; and are sometimes very hard to detect) They are usually a problem in early spring. It sounds like the treatment you are using is appropriate & it should work to help control the problem.


Indoor Insect Killer that Kills Stinkbugs and More

How to Kill Stinkbugs, One of the Newest Pests in the U.S., Without Releasing Their Odor

Halyomorpha halys, or more commonly known as the stinkbug, is a fairly new pest to the United States. First appearing in September of 1998, it’s believed to have entered the country in packing crates from China or Japan. Since then, the stinkbug has multiplied at an astonishing rate, and the infestation is at critical levels throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Many consumers are finding it hard to keep these pests out of their homes. These bugs can enter houses in a variety of ways … by hitching a ride in on clothes, crawling through unsealed cracks in doors, flying in through open doorways, and more.

As part of the Pentatomidae family, stinkbugs get their common name from the vile odor they emit through holes in their abdomen. This foul smell is a defense mechanism that makes the bug less appealing to birds and lizards. It also makes them especially nasty to get rid of. No matter how carefully you try to kill stinkbugs, any jostling, cornering, injuring or removing can “set them off”. As the infestation continues to rise, more and more people are looking for an effective way to kill stinkbugs. One of the best solutions is an indoor insect killer that can eliminate them on contact, without releasing the bugs’ odor.

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How to Eliminate the Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug by e_monk

Last week my son had lunch with a friend who is an emergency room doctor in a New York hospital. They got around to talking about some of the more numerous insects in New York. One of those insects seems to be found in nightmare numbers. But the interesting thing about this insect is that, though creepy and an insect that no one wants in their house or apartment, it is not known to cause any real diseases to people. It does bite people and can make you itch. Yet scientists have never found this insect to carry any disease. But this young doctor says he is seeing many people in the emergency room because of the insect. Why? Because people don’t want the insect and have been buying toxic chemicals to spray or spread in their apartments. The people are getting sick from the chemicals they are using to try to get rid of this insect. The saddest thing is that mostly all the chemicals that they are using that are poisoning them are ineffective in getting rid of the insect they want to kill. This young doctor told my son that he is seeing numerous cases of poisoned patients.

There is another insect that is considered benign that has been coming into people’s homes in great quantities to over winter. This is an insect in the stink bug family known by scientists as the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug – Halyomorpha halys (see here). Most other stink bugs overwinter in dead leaves, but the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug discovered that it can get into your house through numerous cracks or through window air conditioners and be comfortable hiding in a warm comfortable house. You really don’t see that many until it warms up outdoors and they want to leave in the spring because they are starving after a long winter of no food. Sometimes they are fooled into thinking that it is spring when lights are on indoors. Though this bug is considered a nuisance more than a disease carrier, no one likes finding them in the house. Have you ever been to a dinner party when they came out and in their confusion dive bombed the guests? TheGardenLady has and it wasn’t pleasant.

So how does one get rid of them?

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An Organic Wasp Killer that Takes the Sting Out of the Great Outdoors

The Importance of Organic Wasp Killers for Backyards

Wasps can be very beneficial.

However, wasps elicit fear in many people, especially those who are severely allergic to them. Painful to humans, a wasp’s sting can vary greatly in toxicity.

For those without an allergy to wasp stings, they will experience varying degrees of burning, itching, redness, tenderness, and swelling that may last up to a week. These reactions can be treated easily with ice, meat tenderizer, or other commercial topical ointments.

Others may have an allergic reaction. An allergic reaction can include a rash, hives, headache, minor respiratory symptoms, and upset stomach. These reactions can be treated with an over-the-counter antihistamine.

For those rare individuals, a wasp sting can cause anaphylactic shock (fainting, difficulty breathing, swelling, and blockage in the throat) within minutes of being stung. These systemic allergic reactions may cause a person to die unless treated immediately with an epinephrine injection and a subsequent visit to the hospital. For individuals with allergies, a wasp killer becomes an important line of defense whenever spending time outdoors.

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Why Plant Leaves Fold

folded leaf spider nest by mycocortex

TheGardenLady received this question from Jim.

I believe my snake plant is underwatered. The leaves are folding in half length-wise. I have probably underwatered in fear of overwatering. Any suggestions for bringing my snake plant back without overwatering it?

Snake plant or Sansevieria is a tough plant that has few pests. But it does have some pests. My guess, and it can only be a guess because I cannot examine your plant, is that you are not under watering your plant but that your plant may have some pests.

When you have plants indoors, the environment is not what the plant is used to; so a plant can be stressed much more than it would be if it were growing outside in its natural environment. The stress might be from your not giving the plant the minimum amount of water that it needs. I water my  Sansevieria plants just a few times when it is indoors during cold weather and they are perfectly healthy. However, if I felt the plant were under watered, I would give it a drink- which I hope you have done for your plants.  Whatever is stressing your plant and whenever your plant gets stressed, it becomes less resistant to problems. Therefore your plant might become vulnerable to some insects pests. The three main insect pests of the Sansevieria plant are 1) the Vine Weevil grub, 2) mealy bugs or 3) spider mites.

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Bedbugs: How to Deal with this Problem

bed bug close up by David P James

One of the major problems that we are experiencing these days is the reemergence of bedbugs. This is a grave problem that is growing everywhere in the world.  The good news is that bed bugs are not supposed to carry any diseases. And the sort of good news is that not everyone seems to be allergic to the bites. But I don’t believe human beings enjoy living with insects and bedbugs breed so rapidly that one can have an infestation quite rapidly (see here). The US government has numerous papers on bed bugs.  (See here)

More and more articles are appearing about places infected by bedbugs – this includes libraries, movie theaters, etc. So if you are planning on traveling in North America, a good website to check out is this.  On this registry, you can also report locations you know about that are infested.

An entomologist who seems to be very knowledgeable about bed bugs and owns a pest control business is Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest
and extermination service. He has a bed bug website where he sells bed bug products and has some of the most up to date information about how to protect yourself from this scourge.  See here.

There are some products you can use to help eliminate some of the bed bug problems.  According to Penn State facts,

Three classes of insecticides are reviewed: (1) Botanical insecticides containing natural pyrethrins will repel insects and can “knock down” bed bugs for a period of time, but natural pyrethrins quickly deteriorate and do not provide the necessary residual action of some other materials. Finishes on furniture and other wood items may be damaged from the petroleum carriers contained in aerosol pyrethrins. (2) Inorganic materials such as silica gel, boric acid, and diatomaceous earth will provide long-term control, provided they are used in an environment with low humidity. These inorganic materials have very low repellency, a long residual life, and can provide good control if thoroughly applied to cracks and crevices. However, they are typically white in color and may leave the surface of items with an undesirable film unless they are carefully applied. (3) Synthetic pyrethroids such as deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and others can provide good control if they are carefully and thoroughly applied to suspected bed bug areas.

If you have an infestation of bed bugs in your home, it is best to contact a reputable exterminating company. Call your local Master Gardener office or  your agricultural extension to ask if they have new information on dealing with bedbug problems or have a list of reputable exterminating companies.