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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
Pests (Insects, Disease, & Weeds)
spider

Spiders…Fascinating, yet Frustrating

I have a love-hate relationship with spiders. I am continually fascinated when watching a spider spin its web. However, cleaning up cobwebs can be very frustrating. Spiders are abundant (over 1,000,000 individuals per acre in a grassy field) and can be found almost anywhere from the bedroom closet to the 22,000-foot level on Mt. Everest. They are beneficial, feeding mostly on small inse...

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Raspberry

Spotted Wing Drosophila Can Ruin Berry Crops

Everyone growing blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries should be monitoring for spotted wing Drosophila, a relatively new invasive pest that infests thin-skinned fruits as they ripen. For the past several years, this invasive insect has severely damaged these crops, making the fruits unusable. If you are seeing gross little white maggots in your garden raspberries right now, this m...

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Slug on hosta

Hosta Slugs

While hiking at Turkey Run State Park with friends recently, we found a lot of snails sitting on stinging nettle leaves along the trails. Many of the snails had their head and antennae out of their shell, inviting us to stop occasionally to say hello. We also noticed a lot of holes in leaves along the trails. There are probably numerous reasons for the damage, but slugs are a likely cul...

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Post Ladybugs

Growing plants to attract insect predators

Not all bugs are bad. Many gardeners are learning to leave good bugs and tolerate a bit of plant feeding. Some of us are also using plants to attract the good guys. My colleague Richard Hentschel, University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator, explains more below. "There are a number of predator insects that can help us control the destructive ones," said Hentschel. "The common...

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Preen Natural Vegetable Garden Weed Preventer is made with 100 percent corn gluten.

Organic weed control: Corn meal gluten

Recent social media posts suggest using household cornmeal to control garden weeds. Looks simple enough, but does it work? Cornmeal is simply ground corn that we use in cooking. It is an essential ingredient in cornbread and corn muffins. Although it might add some nutrients when sprinkled on the garden, it likely does not have any effect on weeds. Corn gluten meal (CGM), on the...

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Post Beetles

Winter's Impact on Insects and Plants

Unfortunately, the winter has taken a toll on many plants. Evergreens are especially impacted, many showing significant winter desiccation or even death. The severe cold winter compounded plant stresses already inflicted by recent severe droughts and other weather extremes. Not only did trees likely not have enough internal reserves going into winter, but they were also not able to take up more...

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Homemade herbicide considerations

URBANA, Ill. – Recipes for homemade weed killers abound on the internet. University of Illinois Extension specialist Michelle Wiesbrook explains why homemade is not always better. "It's important to keep in mind that any...

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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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