Boxelder bugs, bulbs, Master Gardener training
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[October 17, 2012]
Boxelder bugs and other nuisance
pests -- The cooler nights sure make for better sleeping
weather, but they are also a sure sign that fall is here. With the
cool weather, we have quite a few insects that are looking for a
warm place to be -- or at least a nice, warm place for the
afternoon. That brings us to nuisance pests.
A nuisance pest is anything that causes us grief. Ones that I
would target as nuisance pests right now are Asian lady beetles,
ants, crickets, boxelder bugs, elm leaf beetles and woolly bear
caterpillars. The boxelder bugs have been particularly bad this
year. All these things are in and around the house, and
generally making things miserable for us.
With nuisance pests,
the best offense becomes a good defense. We can start with a
barrier pesticide application on the foundation of the house
(and the adjacent foot or two of soil around it) with something
like permethrin or bifenthrin insecticide. This puts down a
barrier that insects crawl through when trying to get in or on
your house. Insects may not die immediately, but shouldn't last
long after crawling through this barrier. In severe cases of
insects congregating on outside walls, entire walls can be
treated. Just make sure you test-apply the chemical on a small
section to make sure you don't discolor siding.
Of course, if insects are already in the house, the barrier
won't stop them. Inside the home, only aerosol products should
be used. The safest of the group are the ones that are for
flying insects and contain pyrethrins or their derivatives.
These products basically kill insects that you get the spray on,
and the sprays are inactivated by hitting the wall, floor or
other surfaces. You can spray the air in a particular room and
vacuum up the dead insects in an hour or so. This is one way to
get rid of insects inside the house.
Another useful tactic, particularly with ants and crickets,
is to use baseboard-type sprays. These products are typically
labeled as ant and roach-type products and may last for several
weeks. Just spray in areas of high insect traffic, along
baseboards, to put down a lasting barrier inside the house.
For ants, the bait stations also offer us the opportunity to
kill the entire nests. The bait stations are probably the most
effective, but they should be used alone for at least a week.
Then you can also use the baseboard-type sprays. The idea is to
let live ants get to the bait and take some to the nest.
For those who don't like to use chemical products, sticky
boards (like the type used for rats and mice) offer an option.
Place these in areas where many insects are seen, such as room
corners and under stairs in the basement. The vacuum cleaner is
also a good option for cleaning insects from draperies and the
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We are into the time to plant tulips, daffodils and other
spring-flowering bulbs. Earlier might have been a little better, but
we had to have some moisture in the upper area of the soil. They
should be fall planted before a killing frost. That date is usually
about the second week in October in our area. Plant larger bulbs 6
to 8 inches deep, and smaller ones 3 to 4 inches deep. Mix into the
soil 5 tablespoons of 10-10-10 fertilizer and 2 cups of bone meal
per 10 square feet of bed area.
If you haven't done so, dig summer flowering bulbs such as canna
and dahlia as their foliage turns yellow or before a frost causes
them to rot back to the bulb. Store them on layers of sawdust or
peat moss in a cool, dry place.
Master Gardener training
If you have a desire to learn more about gardening and then share
your knowledge with others, the University of Illinois Extension
Master Gardener volunteer program may be for you. Applications are
now being accepted from residents of Logan, Menard and Sangamon
Master Gardener trainees receive 60 hours of in-depth, unbiased,
research-based horticulture training from University of Illinois
Extension educators and specialists. A Master Gardener intern is
expected to return 60 hours of volunteer service in the year
following their graduation.
Classes will be offered on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
starting Jan. 17 and ending March 28. Training will be conducted in
a shared arrangement between Springfield and Decatur.
Applications are due Nov. 15. If you would like an application or
more information about the program, call 217-782-4617 or stop by the
Logan County Extension office.
University of Illinois Extension]