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Ants, bees and wasps belong to the order hymenoptera.  The identifying feature is the narrow constriction between the thorax and abdomen, or wasp waist.  This allows them to move their back end freely to sting, lay eggs and turn around in a nest or burrow.  Each develop highly organized colonies with a queen.  The best known species of wasps are the black and yellow striped varieties, also a few black and white.  Wasps build their nests in various places.  Paperwasps suspend their layered nests from eaves or ceilings and their nest resembles a honeycomb.  Some yellowjacket species build thier nests underground, the only evidence is a bit of raised surface surrounding a depression and it is very difficult to spot.  All will defend their nests from intruders and they will repeatedly sting.  Wasps inflict painful stings and the venom injected causes reddening, swelling and itching.  Wasps inflict painful stings and the venom injected causes reddening, swelling and itching.  People who are sensitive to the stings experience extreme swelling, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and even death.  The best way to eliminate a ground nest is by spraying the hole at dusk with an insecticide then cover the hole with a glass bowl.  Paperwasps are not as aggressive or as protective as yellowjackets, however they will sting if threatened.  The good news is they all die after the first hard frost, the bad news is the queen remains in the nest.

Beetle eggs are laid in the soil and the larvae, grubs, feed on roots of grass.  Adults emerge midsummer and infest many plants, particularly roses damaging both the leaves and flowers as they chew their way through.  Early autumn they mate and the ugly cycle begins again.  Lightningbugs or fireflies are what legends are made of.  Several species are common in most areas, experts on the bugs can tell the difference based on the flash.  The flash is used by a female to attract a male of her own species who answers with a flash of his own.  The light is produced by a mixture of chemicals similar to enzymes that results in "cold" light, a chemical reaction with little or no heat.  The light organs are used in biochemical assays.  Interestingly the larvae is also luminescent and fireflies must be gathered in the wild as so far they have been unable to rasie them in captivity.

Cicadas are periodiacle pests each differing in color, size, song and life cycle. The most prominent are the 17-year cicadas which are northern in habitat and a 13-year cicada which is generally considered southern. Each has adapted to emerge in a large brood in a particular area from year to year. These brood have been carefully mapped and it is now possible to determine when and where they will emerge. This information is especially important for fruit growers who suffer greatly from an infestation. Nymphs spend a great deal of time living underground, feeding on fluids from tree roots. In late spring of their due date they emerge digging their way to the surface and molt for the last time. The adults live for only about a month, just enough time to mate and lay eggs in twigs and drive you to distraction with the noise. The eggs may overwinter or they may hatch and drop to the ground where they dig a hole and make like a mole. The egg-laying is what can cause serious damage to young trees. It is the males who sing to attract the females.


Deer.  Probably the best advice but least attractive is to protect lower stems with chicken wire while shrubs and perennials are growing. Let material grow through and only outside shoots will suffer the ravages.  The easiest and most reasonable is an old solution. Tie an old piece of thick cloth on the end of a bamboo cane and dunk it in creosote, sick it in the ground like a flag protecting areas of the garden. The deer with not risk coming near the strong smell which will prevent them scenting the approach of danger. After a day or so the smell will not be apparent to humans unless they actually sniff the cloth. Re-dip flags at intervals throughout the summer or after a heavy rain.  Filthy human hair will repel deer, clean hair will not.  The strong, oil smell of hops repels deer, something to think about.  Another fun idea is mousetraps hung from tasty trees at deer-browsing height will deter deer. From experience this will also keep dogs off couches too.  A highly recommended commercial product is Tree Guard, a bittering agent in a durable latex base applied twice a year.  Aromatic, oily herbs like rosemary, scented geraniums, lavender, planted around tasty plants repel deer. The deer can't afford to get the aromatic oils on themselves.  There are suggestions of deer fencing and deer stakes, and deer trip wires but this thumb won't go there.  Protect young saplings and conifers by making them wear a hat over winter. Well constructed birthday party hats will protect the terminal bud. Secure the hat by stapling it to the tree give the terminal but about an inch of space at the top.  Finally the list of deer-proof plants, with the caveat that a hungry deer will eat anything available in order to survive. The tree list includes cedar, cypress, ash, magnolia, olive, spruce and pine. Shrubs are abelia, barberry, buddleia, cotoneaster, daphne, juniper, myrtle, oleander, potentilla, lilac, and viburnum. Perennials include, columbine, campanula, iris, monarda, gloriosa daisy, poppies, and clarkia.


Fungal spores are horrible and are responsible for tons of what ails plant material. The short list includes anthracnose, fusarium, didymellina leaf spot, and powdery mildew, include all your rots - crown, root, stem, dry, black and corm, plus rust, blights, and all your molds. Whatever you may have can devastate a garden in no time at all. The solution is fungicide which does not kill the fungi but will help protect healthy leaves by killing the spores as they germinate. The key for control and eventual elimination is to remove all infected leaves and debris from the garden and follow the specific fungicide product directions. Generally a spray to be used every 7 - 10 days. Cool temperatures and high humidity favor the spread of fungus, overhead watering can exacerbate the problem.


Grasshoppers, katydids, and crickets all belong to the order orthoptera and all are champion jumpers. They have powerful jumping legs as well as two sets of wings and their hearing is acute. The life cycle is considered an incomplete metamorphosis comprising of three stages, egg, nymph and adult. Molting their exoskeletons as many as 15 times during their life they grow but otherwise change very little as they develop. Eggs hatch in the spring and may take forty to sixty days to reach adulthood.  Each species has a distinct song or stridulation that the male uses to attract females. Crickets create their song by rubbing their front wings together. Grasshoppers move the bumps on their hind legs against their front wings like pieces of sandpaper. Katydid males like to gather in groups in the summer and sing throughout the day to attract females but generally all are solitary types. But, and this is the stuff legends are made of, if they become crowded and their food sources diminish they gather in huge swarms, migrating long distances to find a better place to feed and breed often traveling hundreds of miles. Individually all these bugs will eat their own weight in plant material in a day, a swarm devours all plants, fruits and flowers within hours.


Hookworms feed on tomato, pepper, eggplant, fruits and foliage. You only need one to cause extensive damage. The adult hookworm moth, a large gray or brown critter with yellow or white markings emerges from hibernation in late spring drinking nectar from garden flowers. The worms hatch from eggs laid on the undersides of leaves and feed for three to four weeks. They crawl into the soil, pupate and the whole ugly cycle repeats itself. If you spy worms with white sacs that look like puffed rice these are cocoons of parasitic wasps that feed on the worm and eventually kill it. Advice is to hand pick them off then destroy


Lightningbugs or fireflies are what legends are made of. Several species are common in most areas, experts on the bugs can tell the difference based on the flash. The flash is used by a female to attract a male of her own species who answers with a flash of his own. The light is produced by a mixture of chemicals similar to enzymes that results in "cold" light, a chemical reaction with little or no heat. The light organs are used in biochemical assays. Interestingly the larvae is also luminescent and fireflies must be gathered in the wild as so far they have been unable to raise them in captivity.


Mealybugs should be considered one of the more serious problems. They are cottony-looking insects and can be found on the underside of leaves, on stems, and particularity in the crotches where the leave meets the stem. They are prodigious reproducers and may either be delivered live or deposit hundreds of yellow to orange eggs in white cottony egg sacs. Female mealybugs feed by sucking sap from the plant, they excrete the excess in a sugary fluid called honeydew. Once mealybugs have been detected you need to be on constant vigil and start control measure immediately as they appear.  I have found that with simple diligence, a fine paintbrush or Q-tip and alcohol, either rubbing, isopropyl, or the type you mix with tonic, will work to kill the buggers. Repeat as often as needed. Good advice to wipe the leaves off and heavily water to the point of runoff with a mild soap and water solution.


Scale can look like white, cushion type masses or the more prevalent crusty brown bumps, either way it's horrible stuff. The young are called crawlers and are soft-bodied. Crawlers insert their mouths into the flesh of the plant withdrawing sap. The legs then atrophy and the critter is locked into place. Scale like whitefly and mealybugs, excrete honeydew which covers the leaves and drips onto surfaces, then mold develops. At this time the body of scale develops a coat either cottony or crusty brown either way this is a destructive menace. It seems that plants who are once infected will always be infected and all you can do is hope to keep it under control. The way to do that once again is diligence and liquid dish soap in a sprayer or an alcohol water combo. The soapy water basically suffocates scale and dries them up and a much better choice around furniture. Repeated treatment is necessary and plants heavily infested should be tossed.


Spider mites cause the leaves of plants to look lighter in color, the upper surface may look spotty or stippled, the underside feels dirty. The real key is webbing that will be on bud tips and leaf joints, especially noticeable when you mist. These pests are microscopic in size, they can be yellow to brown or reddish in color and are indeed a type of arachnid. Mites are fast breeders and can infest any plant or grouping in no time. The best way to rid plants of mites is by using an insecticidal soap solution.. Get on a good routine of misting and if necessary hand wipe the leaves and follow up with a systemic insecticide. If you suspect a plant of having a problem isolate it immediately so as not to infect other healthy plants.


Tent caterpillars appear in the spring in silken nets in the crotches of tree limbs or on the ends of branches. The leaves become food and the tree may become totally defoliated, a common problem all over the United States. In summer female moths lay masses of 150 to 300 eggs in bands around twigs. The eggs hatch the next spring and when the leaves begin to unfold the young caterpillars immediately begin to construct nets. On warm, sunny days they feed on leaves and surrounding foliage for about four weeks then pupate. In mid to late summer brownish moths emerge and the cycle begins again. I prefer the old-fashioned solution of burning the suckers by just lighting a match to the nest. A bacterial insecticide will work also as well as a high-pressure stream of water but that does not kill, just removes them from the tree.


Whitefly is a tiny winged insect that feeds mainly on the underside of leaves. This pest is quite common in many houseplants and will get the better of any plant in a weakened condition. The tiny larva feed for about a month before changing into an adult winged insect, both the larva and the adult feed by sucking vital sap from plants. Again this is another pest that cannot fully digest all of the sugars so they too excrete honeydew

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