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Early spring pests and reminders

By John Fulton

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[April 20, 2009]  Early in the spring, there are many pests that become active. Many of these are timed by the saucer magnolia blooms, according to Orton's "Coincide" book. The past week or so, when the magnolia blooms were in the pink-bud stage, spruce spider mites became active. These mites are one of the major downfalls of spruce in our area.

To determine if you have spruce spider mites, hold a piece of white paper under a branch and shake the branch. The mites will look like moving dust specks on the paper. Many times, there will be some fine webbing, like spider web, visible on the needles as well.

Spruce spider mites can be controlled with sprays of acequinocyl, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, insecticidal soap or summer oil spray. The soap or oil sprays will require a second application about a week later to give good control. These mites normally remain active until mid-May, but the cool conditions thus far may extend their life cycle this year.


Other spring pests are also indicated by the saucer magnolia. During the bloom stage, going on now, the ash plant bug, fall cankerworm, spring cankerworm, Fletcher scale, leaf crumpler, eastern tent caterpillar, juniper webworm and Zimmerman pine moth are susceptible to control. As we get to the petal fall stage, European pine sawfly, gypsy moth, hawthorn mealybug, honeylocust pod gall and willow aphid become susceptible to control.


  • Mow the grass as it is needed. To do away with catching or raking grass, try to remove no more than one-third of the leaf blade.

  • Broadleaf control is just around the corner for many weeds. Look at early May for control.

  • Grub control is largely unsuccessful in the spring because of large grub size and a short life cycle. Look to August and September for grub control.

  • Moles are active, but controlling the grubs won't help much now. Look to a noose or scissor trap, or one of the soft baits with poison for control. We actually have a couple of traps for "rent" this year.

  • The average last killing frost date is about May 5 for our area, and many gardening charts use May 10 for planting tender crops in our area.

Extension Week

The West Central Region has designated April 19-25 as Extension Week. Logan County has had Extension since February of 1918. It began with a "Farm Advisor" named Elmer Ebersol, who began selling memberships in the county for the combined Extension and Farm Bureau system that remained in place until the 1950s.

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Early projects included establishment of the county Pure Bred Live Stock Breeders' Association, Pure Bred Beef Cattle Breeders' Association, Pure Bred Dairy Cattle Breeders' Association and the Pure Bred Swine Breeders' Association. Soybeans were a new crop at that time, and their planting was being encouraged. Of course, soybeans were used mainly for hay in their early years. Spring wheat was the predominant wheat crop of the time, and there were several thousand acres of oats. Farm labor was a major concern of the time, and labor placements were a major focus of Extension. The first soil survey of the county was also begun.

The 4-H program began about 1920, with the first 4-H clubs focusing on specific projects of swine and corn. Later in 1923 there began a push for home economics-based clubs, and the push was on to identify volunteer leaders. Home economics was added a few years later with the first "Home Advisor." Focuses were on running a household and home food preservation.


Logan County added an aggressive Community Resource Development program in the late 1970s. This program was responsible for many of the communitywide surveys done in the early '80s, and these surveys even led to removal of the city parking meters around the Lincoln square and municipal parking lots.

Extension continues to evolve as needs of residents change. Horticulture programming became more prevalent in the 1980s; nontraditional youth programs such as school enrichment and special interest clubs began in the 1980s; and the Family Nutrition program started in the 1990s. Web pages began to be a communication medium in 2003, and today there is an average of about 15,000 hits per month on county Web pages.

Extension Week helps us remember where we have been and to focus on being of value to local citizens. Extension has always been blessed with many exceptional volunteers, and today is no exception. There are over 100 volunteer leaders in the 4-H program, and many others serving on committees and councils for various programs. If you are interested in volunteering, please feel free to contact the office at any time.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]


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