From aphids to pumpkins
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[September 29, 2009]
We had a tremendous buildup in the populations
of soybean aphids just before the soybeans started maturing. What
does this have to do with horticulture? When the population builds
to a large level, or the food source runs out, the aphids grow wings
to look for another location. In our case, both of these events
occurred at about the same time. This might explain some of the
clouds of "gnats" people have been asking about.
Well, they arenít gnats but soybean aphids in many instances.
There are some fungus gnats, some other insects such as the
insidious flower bugs or minute pirate bugs, but most of the
clouds are soybean aphids.
With the buildup in aphid populations comes a buildup in
predator populations. Just think back to high school biology and
the rabbits and coyotes graph. Remember the coyotes lag the
rabbits by a while. What this means is a buildup in populations
of aphid predators for us. Natural aphid controls include
ladybugs, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps and diseases. The
result is a monumental buildup in populations of these natural
controls, and it is already under way. It stands to reason if we
had over 1,000 of these aphids on each soybean plant, it will
take quite a few predators to try to control all of them. And if
you have a soybean field close, you will probably have more
aphids and predators.
The populations of the predators will then put them in the
nuisance pest category, since you wonít be able to open a door
without admitting some of them. If they become too much of a
problem in the house, you can do a quick spray with an aerosol
for flying insects. The vacuum cleaner also remains a great way
to pick up a few unwanted visitors in the home. As for the
aphids, about the only potential problem from them is on garden
beans still going. Most pesticides, including malathion,
bifenthrin, permethrin and insecticidal soap, will control
This week really makes it seem like fall, and one of the
favorite fall decorations is the pumpkin. Itís been a
challenging year with many of the diseases common in a wet
season and having a cool year also. Following are some of the
cardinal rules for selecting and keeping pumpkins:
pumpkin with a stem, but never carry it by the stem.
Pumpkins without a stem will not last long.
Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom
so it will stand upright.
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with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will rot.
pumpkins are easier to carve because the skin is not as hard as
darker orange-colored ones, but they will not keep as well.
Wash the pumpkin
with warm water and let it dry before carving. Use of a small
amount of dishwashing soap in the warm water may help extend the
life of the pumpkin.
To make the
pumpkin last longer, keep it in a cool place until ready to
carve. After carving, coat the cuts with petroleum jelly.
only be done three days ahead of Halloween. After cutting, the
pumpkin will deteriorate rapidly.
The use of a candle in the pumpkin will
also make it deteriorate rapidly.
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]