Signup to receive email updates




or follow our RSS feed

follow our RSS feed

Blog Banner

Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.
Bugs
monarch on tihonia- Kelly Allsup
click image to view 2 more

Become a citizen scientist for pollinators with University of Illinois by Deborah Seiler

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

University of Illinois  Extension is calling all lovers of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators that keep our crops and gardens growing to join scientists in tracking their distribution and habitat use across the state, from the comfort of your home, school, or community garden. I-Pollinate is a citizen-science research initiative through the ...

Read More >

Alex Wild ants

Ants in the Kitchen

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Ants are thriving in my kitchen, my bathroom, and at my office. They usually enter buildings after heavy rains and persist as long as the environment is to their liking. In the kitchen, they are seeking out sweet treats, and are attracted to the moisture in the bathroom. Despite ants not causing damage to the home and being beneficial in aerating soils, they are a general nuisance and are easil...

Read More >

Spruce spider mite 2
click image to view 5 more

When Magnolia blooms scout for Spruce Spider Mite, Zimmerman Pine Moth and Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Spruce Spider mite – Problem Feed on needled evergreens and most active during the spring. Damage appears as stippling as mites feed on chlorophyll. Heavily attacked foliage will turn brown. – Detection Hosts are Juniper, pine, douglas fir, fraiser fir, and larch. Spend the summer as eggs, hatch ag...

Read More >

spider m dam p2

Spruce Spider Mite by Sarah Hughson

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

  Now that temperatures are beginning to fall in Illinois, conditions are becoming favorable for spruce spider mite Spruce spider mites are typically active in spring and fall when temperatures are cool and become inactive during the hot summer months. Active mites will feed on various needled evergreens including spruces, pines and...

Read More >

Black-and-Yellow-Argiope-Spider-bannor Alabama Extension
click image to view 2 more

Fearful looks aside, spiders can be lovable

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Many homes are being purposefully adorned with abnormally large, scary black spiders and their webs to hinge on the fact that a large percentage of the population may suffer from the fear of spiders, known as arachnophobia. In contrast to most of America, I suffer from arachnophilia, a love of spiders. This is due to my background in encouraging beneficial insects to help lower the popu...

Read More >

Hover fly maggot
click image to view 4 more

Hoverflies not sweat bees

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Walking in the Illinois State University Horticulture Center garden this week, I see the hover flies (aka syrphid flies or flower flies) are covering any nectar-producing flower in droves. These flies, commonly mistaken for bees are one of our most prolific pollinators in the Illinois garden. In addition to their pollinator services, their larvae are ferocious meat eaters. Hover flies are excel...

Read More >

cicada killer adult NIxon
click image to view 2 more

The big Wasps of summer

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Cicada Killers and the Great black wasp may have already started menacing gardener. However menacing they are in their façade, they are just simply trying to get some nectar from the flowers. About this time of year, inquiries from the public start to flood Master Gardener ran help desks because they start emerging from their winter homes that are nests underground. Cicada killers are s...

Read More >

japanese beetle damage rose phil nixon

Going Organic Doesn't Mean Pesticide Free

University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup says managing pests organically is easily achieved with biological pesticides. Becoming organic does not mean that gardeners are without tools to manage garden pests; biological chemicals are commonly available in garden centers and derived from naturally occurring sources. These biological chemicals are safer for the...

Read More >

Leaf miner 2

The Brass Tacks of Boxwoods in Your Illinois Landscape

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Boxwoods want intermediate sun or shade. In full shade, they may not be as vigorous and have a looser shape. In full sun, they may scorch in our hot summers or bronze in the wintertime. Do not prune until after the chance of frost has past unless you are trying to control previous year's pest issues. Boxwood have shallow roots, so instead of planting ground covers or annuals aro...

Read More >

bmsb needle mouth
click image to view 4 more

Have you found these fall insect invaders near your home?

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Typically on the top of our home invader list in Illinois are the Asian lady beetles," states University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. It seems this season, there may be another to explore.Asian lady beetles originally released to help farmers with the pecan aphid, commonly like to overwinter in our homes. If there is a crack or crevice leading its way to the insi...

Read More >

tomato-fruitworm- University of Kentucky
click image to view 5 more

Hungry Insects, Leave my tomatoes alone!

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Master Gardeners go beyond the confines of the garden to answer and research gardening questions of all kinds throughout the entire growing season. We tend to notice trends. Those trends allow me to provide continued training for the Master Gardeners so that they can better serve the public. The trends also give me insight into what people want to know. In the past few weeks, for instan...

Read More >

Deanna Frautschi Cicada Killer

Cicada Killers beneficial to Nature

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Cicada killers (Sphecius speciosus) are on the prowl, and there have been many inquiries about them at the Master Gardener plant clinics. Cicada killers are solitary wasps with yellow banding on their abdomens. They appear in late July and early August and resemble large, black hornets. These insects are considered beneficial because they help control the annual cicada (Tibicen sp...

Read More >

Hover fly adult Ken 2
click image to view 5 more

Hover flies

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Walking in the Illinois State University Horticulture Center garden this week, I see the hover flies (aka syrphid flies or flower flies) are covering any nectar-producing flower in droves. These flies, commonly mistaken for bees are one of our most prolific pollinators in the Illinois garden. In addition to their pollinator services, their larvae are ferocious meat eaters. Hover flies are excel...

Read More >

gypsy moth 2
click image to view 5 more

Gypsy moth spraying in Livingston County

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Parts of Livingston County, McLean's northeast neighbor, have been scheduled for spraying this past week along with six other counties in northern Illinois for the gypsy moth, leaving the rest of us wondering will we be next. Gypsy moth caterpillars eat the leaves of hundreds of different species of trees, leaving behind winter bare trees. The infected trees have a chance of dying from...

Read More >

dwn sunflower1 John Hilty
click image to view 9 more

More to monarch decline than just milkweed

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

More to it than just the Milkweed BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Most Illinois gardeners believe that the cause of declining monarch butterfly populations is due to the lack of milkweed in the summer breeding areas of our state. However, research done by the Illinois Natural History Survey, plant ecologists, Greg Spyreas and David Zaya is proving there may be more to the story tha...

Read More >

Dee Monarch
click image to view 3 more

Monarch Population Surprises - by Chip Taylor (Monarch Watch)

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Monarch Population Surprises - by Chip Taylor ---------------------------------------------------------------- Those of us who are educators, and who follow monarchs closely, are being educated by the monarchs themselves this spring. The movement and behavior of monarchs returning from Mexico has been unprecedented. I'll save the details for a longer Status of the Population tha...

Read More >

sand wasp adult flying to burrow

Sand Wasps by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Sand wasps have similar habits to the cicada killer, but they occur earlier in the spring, with other species common later in the growing season. There are several species, ranging in size from 1/2 to almost 1 inch long. They are dark-colored, slender wasps with one or more contrasting gray to reddish bands. Adults feed on flower nectar, pollinating plants in the process. Female...

Read More >

16905166181 fb68fa561f z

Get the Buzz on Bees: A Backyard Beekeeping workshop in Bloomington

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Get the Buzz on Bees with Backyard Beekeeping BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension welcomes you to a day of beekeeping education connecting local beekeepers to researchers and educators from the University of Illinois. The day-length workshop is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 15 at the McLean County Extension Office. The local U...

Read More >

rusty patched bumble bee bee spotter

Rusty Patched Bumble bee

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Honey bees have dominated the news as of late, but I would like to discuss bumble bees, their pollination services and their decline says Univerity of Illinois Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup. We have 50 species of bumble bees in North America. They are social like honey bees. There is a queen to lay eggs, and workers to collect pollen and nectar for their honey pot. However, unlike honey b...

Read More >

Praying Mantis

Praying Mantis means good ecosystem

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Praying Mantis have been stalking our gardens and startling our young but are a good sign of a healthy ecosystem. Praying Mantis get their name from a Greek word meaning "prophet," "seer" or "diviner." How they stand when they are in position to catch their prey underwrites their name. Two things contribute to high numbers of praying mantis. They are larger later in the season and therefore mor...

Read More >

woolly aphids on hawthorn c casino
click image to view 3 more

Wooly Aphids by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Woolly aphids typically feed on two hosts during a 1-year period, with most species apparently having to switch hosts. This host-switching occurs in various species from late June to late July, and fuzzy adult females that look like flying lint seemingly drifting on the wind are their means of getting to the other host. Once reaching their summer host, they feed and give birth to a...

Read More >

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Phil Nixon Kelly Allsup
click image to view 3 more

Fall Tree Pests

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Manage pests on your favorite trees URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator Kelly Allsup cautions to watch out for insect pests on favorite landscape trees this late summer and fall. "If you don't take necessary management actions at the appropriate time, the battle against them may be hard to win," she says. Allsup provides the following...

Read More >

syrphid fly adult on calendula

Is it a bee or a fly? by Phil Nixon

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Large numbers of syrphid, or flower, flies are being seen. They are small flies, usually 1/4 inch or shorter, with yellow and black or brown bands on the abdomen. They hover around your arms when you have been perspiring and land to lap up the sweat. This hovering also gives them the name of hover flies. They are called flower flies because they are commonly found on flowers, pollinating as they m...

Read More >

mosquitoe

Avoid mosquitoes this summer

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

Avoid mosquito bites this summer with tips from University of Illinois Extension BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Nothing will ruin your summer barbecues, evening gardening tasks or strolls through the woods like the feared mosquito. "It doesn't take more than one bite to get me running into the house, leaving the fun behind," University of Illinois Horticulture Extension Educator Kelly...

Read More >

jumping worm characteristics
click image to view 2 more

Jumping Worms in Illinois by Diana Plewa

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

A new invasive species, jumping worm ( Amynthas spp.), was identified in Illinois in 2015. By the end of the year these worms had been confirmed in three northern counties: Cook, DuPage, and McHenry. A worm from far southern Illinois in Williamson County was examined at the University of Illinois Plant Clinic and confirmed as a jumping worm, drastically increasing the range of this worm...

Read More >