Inside the house, we have the Asian ladybugs to deal with. We
also have them outside, but that is less of a concern. As we
begin to clean up flower beds or piled leaves around the house,
we will disturb resting places of the ladybugs. This will cause
them to seek a new place, and if it is warm and sunny enough,
they may just create a little bit of a nuisance outside.
Inside, we have a population coming out of hibernation. They
have been there all winter but have been under or behind things
so you didn't know they were there. The best control around the
house seems to be a cup of coffee or a glass of water for them
to fly into. Seriously, sucking them up with a vacuum or
spraying areas with an aerosol flying insect killer does about
as much good as you can do.
Another insect becoming active with the warm weather is the
ant. We are seeing winged ants being brought into the office on
a regular basis. Ants become winged when they are overcrowded in
their old colony and are seeking to start a new one.
Many people are concerned about the identification of these
winged insects to make sure they aren't termites. The process is
relatively simple. Just look at the last body segment, and if it
has a "pinched" waist, it is an ant. Termites don't have that
hourglass figure, but are shaped more like a cigar. Of course
you may bring samples by the office for identification. The
office is at 980 N. Postville Drive in Lincoln -- the northwest
corner of the fairgrounds, off the frontage road. Our phone
number is 732-8289.
Another warm weather phenomenon is the advancing of the trees
and shrubs. Pruning times have pretty well slipped by us for
dormant pruning. The next group of shrubs to prune will be the
flowering group, after they get done flowering. This timing
helps maximize the blooms the following year.
Forsythia is an indicator for crabgrass germination, so it is
about time to get preventive treatments on. Remember, if you are
putting down new seed this spring, no crabgrass treatments
should be applied. If you aren't controlling crabgrass, it is
time to finish up new seedings and the intrusive operations such
as dethatching and core aeration.
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The advancing of trees and shrubs brings to mind the sweet gum tree.
This beautiful tree has been cursed with a fruit few care to see.
Anyway, the most common control is ethephon, and it is used as a
foliar spray to reduce or eliminate undesirable fruit or seeds. A
couple of the trade names are Florel and Ethrel. The product is
effective at eliminating much of the fruit without affecting leaf
growth and color, and it does not harm other plants that get some
spray drift on them. It also does not affect the actual flowering of
the treated trees.
With ethephon, the key is in the timing. The application must be
made during flowering but before the fruit sets in. For most
flowering trees there is a 10- to 14-day window of opportunity.
Sweet gums are a little tricky since there are no showy flowers
involved, so effective sprays should occur just as new leaves begin
to emerge. Sprays should leave leaves wet, but not to the point of
dripping. Good coverage of the tree is needed, so keep in mind the
size of the tree when you are weighing this option. If you can just
spray the bottom half of the tree, the top of the tree will still be
loaded with sweet gum balls come next fall and winter.
Gardening time is also upon us. With a year like this one, it
seems to really have sneaked up on us. We went from really cold to
above average with the flip of a switch. Anyway, when soil is fit,
March 25 to April 10 is the normal seeding and planting time for
asparagus crowns, cabbage seed, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, onions from
seeds or sets, peas, potatoes, radish, rhubarb plants, spinach, and
University of Illinois Extension, Logan County]