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What's going on in the Yard?

Posted by Richard Hentschel -

Why is gardening in the yard so entertaining? There is always something new happening, something just finished and something to look forward too. Gardeners looking for the typical insects should still be thinking 2 weeks ahead of normal as our growing degree calculations continue to pile up.

Bagworms usually emerge in a couple of weeks, yet they are here with us now. Egg hatching is happening as you read this and the bagworm larvae will be ballooning for the next couple of weeks for sure. Ballooning you ask? This is how the larvae move about. The young worm creates a long string of silk webbing material and lets the wind carry it away to desirable host plants in the landscape, so the term ballooning makes sense. You can make control treatments now or wait till after the ballooning is done and you see the young bags on your plants. Bagworms are easily controlled using products like Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki commonly known as Bt, Dipel, Thuricide and other labels. The larvae will feed just a little more and then die before they permanently attach the bag they create to the host plants.

One bug to keep a lookout for is the Japanese Beetle. They are emerging in Southern Illinois right now and should be here in two to three more weeks. Japanese beetles are general feeders and have favorite plants. Be ready to protect your roses and linden trees for sure. No control is needed if feeding is light or scattered in your landscape. If you have some of their favorite foods in your yard, you can treat with carbaryl (Sevin) if you need to. Since these beetles are free to fly around, retreatment may be needed in your yard.

One or two diseases have also shown up recently. Hollyhock rust has been pretty common in the Master Gardener Help Desk offices. You will find your Hollyhock leaves with yellow spots on the surface and many brown rusty colored fruiting structures call pustules on the underneath. They can be so numerous that some gardeners assume it is a normal part of the plant. Rust spores are carried by the wind and you can have rust for the first time this year if there are infected plants in the neighborhood and the wind is coming through your yard. The best management practices will be to scout your Hollyhock early and carefully prune away any early infections and dispose of them. Mulching the plants will keep overwintering spores from emerging from plant debris and it is best to apply the clean mulch in the early spring.

Our lawns have begun to slow down and are now showing potential droughty symptoms of turning that light blue green color or showing footprints from traffic since our rain events have been pretty scattered. If you are doing any watering of the vegetable garden or flower beds, don't forget to water the compost bin or pile.

That was all the bad stuff. Be sure to take a daily "walk about" the yard and enjoy the new blooms, bright green foliage, check on how well the vegetables are doing and make yourself a bet on how soon you will see that first ripe tomato or green pepper. Enjoy the lettuce from the early spring garden you planted or plan on planting the fall garden and enjoy more of the Cole crops.

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