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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Pests (Insects, Disease, & Weeds)
Watering bags work well for new trees.
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Reduce Tree Stress to Keep Them Healthy

The most common questions we get in our Extension offices are about trees. Unfortunately, most people do not notice their trees until they show major dieback or leaf drop. Often by the time we get the call, the tree has irreversible damage, and I have no magic formula to save it. The odd weather patterns the last past few years have left many trees stressed. Stressed trees are less able...

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Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit!

Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit! Elmer Fudd from The Looney Tunes said it right, "Bugs Bunny?! You're a pesky wabbit!" I have replanted my tomato plants three times this spring. The first two times the plants were gone by the next morning, and I think the "cute" little rabbit I saw hop down my walk is the culprit! My first line of defense was to learn more about rabbits...

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TICKS!

Ticks! We all dread getting them. To help us better understand these nasty critters, here is part of an article written by Dr. Phil Nixon, recently retired University of Illinois Extension Entomologist. Deer tick, the northern subspecies of the black-legged tick, spreads Lyme disease, perhaps the fastest rising, most under-reported serious disease in the U.S. There have been an estimate...

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Mowed daylilies with severe aphid infestation.
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Daylily aphid testimonial

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 Last week I noticed an unusually large number of daylily (Hemerocallis sp.) leaves turning completely yellow and dying. Upon closer inspection, I found that they have aphid feeding on the lower stems. Aphids are a soft-bodied insect with piercing mouth parts that they use to suck out the plant's sap. They multiply quickly, resulting in large populations....

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mosquito

Don't Raise Mosquitoes in Your Yard

Be sure to look for mosquito breeding sites in your yard. The first step to fighting mosquitoes MUST begin in YOUR backyard. West Nile Virus is most frequently transmitted through the house mosquito. Since it can only fly about 1-½ miles, this mosquito usually breeds and lives in our own backyards. After getting an adequate blood meal, the adult female mosquito lays her eggs in any stag...

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Slug on hosta

Hosta Slugs

On a recent trip to visit my son Derek in Monterey, California, we hiked among the giant redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park. It was a rainy day, which enhanced the overall experience. It also brought out a banana slug for us to see. Apparently everything there is giant because this slug was almost 10 inches long and bright yellow. We may not have giant slugs, but slugs can b...

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Wool sower gall on white oak

Help, my Oak tree has weird bumps and growths!

We get lots of questions each year about abnormal growths on oak and other trees. These abnormal growths, called galls, can be very disturbing to the people whose plants are affected. Fortunately, most galls affect only the appearance of the trees and are not detrimental to plant health. Galls are a plant's response to insects, mites, bacteria, fungi, or nematodes. Galls are actually cr...

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Fields and Lawns of Purple by Michelle Wiesbrook

Originally published in No. 2/April 25, 2016 of the University of Illinois Extension's  H ome, Yard & Garden Pest Newsletter It's been a great spring for the color purple. The redbud trees are in full bloom and looking glorious in the central part of the...

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Source: Phil Nixon in Home, Yard, & garden Newsletter, Issue 17

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bugs are common almost every year, but can be particularly prevalent in hot, dry years. Boxelder bugs are 1/2-inch long dark brown or black insects with conspicuous red markings on their wings. Boxelder bugs have two generations per year. The first generations adult stage is in late June to early July and the second generation matures to adults in early fall ar...

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marmorated stink bug

Why the Big Stink Over This Little Bug- The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

New Release by Kelly Estes, Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey Coordinator for Illinois It is not uncommon to find stink bugs during the summer near tree fruits such as apples or peaches or in the garden. During the fall months, stink bugs are looking for places to hide in order to survive the winter. The Brown Marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is an invasive pest that has been detected i...

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Garlic Mustard
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Invaders of the Weedy Kind

I have been battling some difficult and very invasive weeds this summer in my yard. A new weed in my gardens this summer is prickly sida ( Sida spinosa ), also called prickly mallow. This summer annual has a yellow flower and prickles at the base of each leaf. So far it is mainly in my herb garden so I wonder if I brought the seed in on a new plant somehow. The other rela...

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blossom end rot on tomato

SOLVING TOMATO PROBLEMS

Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable grown in the United States, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator. "They are probably one of the easiest vegetables to grow, but no vegetable is problem proof," said Ron Wolford. "Here are some of the common tomato problems you may encounter during the growing season." "I get calls in late July from gardeners who ha...

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Musk thistle
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Fall Tips for Controlling Weeds in Lawns and Gardens

Fall is a good time to think about weed control in your lawn and garden. In fact, fall is actually the best time to control some difficult weeds. Many yards and gardens this spring had winter annual weeds such as henbit, deadnettle, and common chickweed. Winter annuals germinate from seed in the fall and spent the winter as seedlings. If you had a problem with winter annuals this year, fall is...

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Maple in decline with possible verticillium wilt.
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Tree Cankers and Vascular Wilts on the Rise

As I've written in previous blogs, the droughts of 2012 and other recent weather events continue to take a toll on tree health. Trees can take three to five years to show symptoms from a severe event such as drought. Unfortunately trees under stress are less able to fight off insect and disease problems. Plant diagnosticians at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic describe the follow...

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Oak Tatters on Bur Oak

Bizarre Oak Leaf Damage

Every year I get questions about bizarre oak leaf damage that most people think is caused by a terrible insect infestation. Although some insects feed on oak trees, often the samples I see have a condition called Oak Tatters. I have an oak tree in my yard that gets oak tatters every year. Oak tatters have been happening for the past several years in Illinois, particularly those in the w...

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Oak tatters on white oak on 7-13-12
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Don't Prune Oaks Now?

Oak trees are majestic, but some are in danger of a disease. One of the best ways to protect oak trees is to prune them at the proper time. You have probably heard that it is not wise to prune oak trees during the active growing season. The actual act of pruning does not harm the tree. The problem involves what you will attract to the tree—insects that may carry the oak wilt fungus....

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ems oakwilt 8-06

Drought Impacts Trees for Years to Come

I continue to get calls about large, old trees that are in major decline. Many of these are just now showing symptoms from the severe drought of 2012. Major weather events have a detrimental long term effect on landscape plants. Many people feel that large trees won't be harmed by drought because they have large root system. This is not the case. Instead we often see substantial tree di...

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Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

Wild Parsnips

Parsnips are not only a root vegetable, but also a common weed in Illinois. Unfortunately, wild parsnips also cause allergic reactions in some people. Knowing how to identify wild parsnips can help prevent skin problems later. Wild parsnip is found growing along roadsides and in non-crop areas. It is typically two to five feet tall and has a yellow flower. Parsnip is closely related to...

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Spruce Tree Problems

Many spruce trees are showing dieback this year. According to Rhonda Ferree, extension educator in horticulture, the cold, wet spring has brought out many trees diseases. Many of these diseases are causing significant damage on evergreens throughout central Illinois. The first spruce disease is Rhizosphaera needle cast. Spruce trees with purple/brown one- and two-year-old needles are su...

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Beware of Dangerous Carrots!

While on a recent motorcycle ride with my husband Mark, I saw a lot of plants in the carrot family Apiaceae growing along roadsides. One of my favorite vegetables is the very edible carrot, but unfortunately the carrot family has a number of dangerous, poisonous plants in it too. The first two dangerous carrots I'll cover are stomach poisons, which means they are poisonous if eaten....

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living with wildlife website

Choose Treatment Properly for Moles

Moles become active each spring, with tunnels appearing as raised areas of soil in lawns and garden beds. "Questions about mole control are probably the most common question I've received in my 27 years with University of Illinois Extension," says Rhonda Ferree, Extension Educator in Horticulture. "Mole damage is frustrating and unfortunately homeowners sometimes resort to costly, ineffective,...

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Hummingbird moth on honeysuckle vine on May 7, 2012
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Weeds Laws in Illinois

All weeds are not created equal. Some weeds are much more difficult to manage than others, thus proper identification is important. This is especially true for the ever increasing number of invasive plants that can quickly overtake an area if not kept under control. Invasive plant management happens at many levels, including legislative. The Illinois General Assembly recently amended the Illin...

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10-10-15 CDL bedbug

Household Pest Control Through Time by Dr. Phil Nixon

Control of household pests has changed considerably over the last 50 years, both outdoors and indoors. There has been a fine-tuning of methods and products over the years which has reduced exposure to pesticides but may have resulted in an inadvertent increase in some pests. Chlordane came on the market in the late 1950's and was soon accepted as a long-lasting, wide-...

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Fireblight on cherry shows blackened leaves and a shepardshook shaped stem.
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Tree Diseases Abundant This Year

This seems to be the year of tree diseases, but don't be alarmed. I've seen a lot of diseases on trees this year, but happily most of them are not devastating. The reason for the increase in tree disease this year is weather. Spring weather conditions this year were perfect for many tree diseases to develop. Many plant diseases prefer wet spring conditions, which we had. In addition, th...

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Bedbug sitting inside a paperclip to show the size.

Bedbugs

We've had an increase in bedbug calls to our Extension offices and Master Plant Helplines in recent weeks. The bed bug feeds at night on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded animals including chickens, cage birds, and other birds as well as dogs, cats, and other mammals. Infestations can come from bird nests on buildings as well as in clothes, luggage, and other materials transported fro...

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