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Yellow jackets, fall chores, to seed or to weed, to prune or not          Send a link to a friend

By John Fulton

[September 10, 2007]  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, brightly flowered 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 these attractions 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. Having 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.

The fall to-do list

It seems like fall has snuck up on us. It's been a very warm and dry, but the weather is changing. It is easiest to notice the evenings are much shorter, and we have less time to do the things we need to do in the fall. Following is a list of things to get into your schedule over the next few weeks, and in some cases not to do.

Do a good job of raking up old fruit from under trees. This old fruit harbors many diseases and insects that could cause you problems for next year, if allowed to lie under the tree. Don't stop with the ground cleanup, but also remove mummified fruit and small fruit from the trees and dispose of in another location.

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We are now at the "breaking point" for the recommended time to seed grass seed. If you want to try it later, you may have excellent luck or have no luck at all. The next recommended seeding time is mid-March to April 1. Figure on about 2 pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet of lawn for an overseeding, and 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet for a newly tilled area. Hopefully the temperature and moisture situation will be more favorable than it has been earlier.

Now is a great time to go after those broadleaf weeds in the lawn. Make sure that you select the correct product, use the proper amount and do not treat areas containing fall-seeded grass. The rule of thumb is that you need to mow newly seeded grass at least three times before treating that area for broadleaf weeds. This means you don't try to do both in the same fall or spring seeding season. Broadleaf weeds that are perennial are sending large amounts of material to the roots to enable them to come up again next year, and translocated herbicides will be sent to the roots as well. Be warned that this also means perennials such as shrubs are in the same boat.

Pruning chores for plants with a high sap flow should be done in December, while other pruning chores are best done in early February for deciduous plants and in June for evergreens. Flowering shrubs are best done after they flower. Pruning now is often a recipe for greater chance of damage to plants.

[Text from file received from John Fulton, University of Illinois Extension, Logan County Unit]

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