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Yellow jackets, spruce spider mites and Web updates          Send a link to a friend

By John Fulton

[SEPT. 19, 2006]  The fall festival season brings about the recurrence of the yellow jackets. Yellow jackets are most frequently encountered when they scavenge for food. Their habit of feeding on nectar and sugar can create a nuisance. Yellow jackets are attracted to open cups and cans of soda and other sweet liquids. They are also attracted to open cans of garbage, bright flowery clothing and floral-scented perfumes.

To reduce yellow jacket problems, all outside garbage cans must be kept clean and well-covered. Contact with the wasps can be decreased by reducing the things that attract them at picnics and other outings. In situations closer to home, the elimination of overripe fruit from gardens and orchards will dramatically decrease the number of scavenging yellow jackets. Holding gatherings indoors and using screens on windows will also help avoid yellow jacket problems.

There are a variety of traps on the market that claim to attract yellow jackets. These traps are baited with the scent of rotting fruit or other odors equally as appetizing to the yellow jackets. It is questionable whether these traps can out-compete the natural and man-made attractants described above. However, it is certain that through proper sanitation and removal of natural and man-made attractants, yellow jacket contact can be reduced. However, in situations where the potential for repeated contact exists, other management methods may be necessary. These traps can also attract more yellow jackets if placed close to the home or patio, so place them to attract the insects away from where you'll be.

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Spruce spider mites

With fall upon us, the damage seems to be mounting from spruce spider mites. These mites are cool-season mites, and they do damage in both the fall and spring seasons. Dead branch tips on spruce trees are an obvious symptom, but you can catch the problem earlier.

Early damage appears as mottled needles, particularly on the year-old needles. Tiny webbing is also visible. Mites can be seen with the naked eye, but they look like specks of dust running on a piece of white paper.

Treatment is not easy, since we are dealing with mites. They aren't insects. Dicofol (if you can find it) is an excellent miticide. Other options would include bifenthrin and insecticidal soap.


For those of you with Internet service, try looking at our website, The horticulture section has been recently updated with features on apples, pumpkins and fall leaves. Just the things to get you in the fall spirit and hopefully give you some information you can use.

[John Fulton, unit leader, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County Unit]


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