Tagged with "Pest management"
If the dire news of the climate crisis is making you feel overwhelmed, why not make some promises to a piece of earth. If everyone made their property, or one they frequent, into a natural refuge, there would be much less to worry about.Here are some of our promises…send us one of yours.
1. I will think of my place as my friend, my family. I will work with, not against it, and do it no harm. It will be a sanctuary.
2. I will let this place keep all that it produces: no biomass will leave the property.
3. I will make a compost pile, even if I probably won’t turn it.
4. I will carefully consider everything I bring here—can it be used for a long time, can it be composted or repurposed, does it really need to be plastic?
5. I will use no toxic synthetic chemicals.
6. I will take a moment to learn about an insect before I decide if I really need to kill it.
7. I will plant native plants to provide habitat for insects and birds.
8. I will get to know the names of all the plants, animals and insects that live in this place, or at least the big ones.
9. I will reduce the size of my lawn to just what gets used.
10. I will let go a bit, let nature be my collaborator, and help me keep my promises.
A friend called recently to ask for our opinion on a backyard situation. A large number of caterpillars were descending from webs in a tree and nibbling on his plants. He called in a tree expert who recommended that the offending tree be cut down and removed. Was this truly the only way to manage the problem?
Happily, we could tell him to do nothing: keep the tree, and not to worry about the plants. The caterpillars are Fall Webworms, whose webs start showing up in late summer.
The parents are pretty little white moths. They are native to the US; highly prolific, they lay their eggs in sunny spots on a large variety of host trees. The eggs hatch into the “worms” which weave the nest (same as silk worms). The nests protect them from predators, but they must come out to eat more leaves.
As it is late in the growing season, the leaves they eat have already done their photosynthetic job and losing some of them to the webworms is no real loss to the parent plant. Many of the caterpillars will in turn become food--for birds and predator insects who need the protein for migrating or overwintering.
So, just let them be.
Sadly, the people who don’t know about all this may be spraying, pruning, or even chopping down a whole tree. Compare that to what a few little caterpillars can do.
Note: Our last tip mentioned that milkweed doesn’t provide resources for anything but Monarch butterflies. This is not true, there are a large number of butterflies, bees and insects that benefit from milkweed, and I was quickly brought to task by some of our well informed readers, many thanks to them. Here’s more https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Wings_sp11_milkweed.pdf
Irrigation running all spring!!….Your lawn needs deep roots; down where it is cool and damp when the heat of summer comes. Best way to get them down there is to let them go looking for it now. Watering early in the season makes roots lazy. They stay on top, where they will be susceptible to insects and sun later on. Watering now can cause fungus and disease problems later. Watering now encourages weed seed germination. Watering now breeds mosquitoes and ticks, so...
WAIT TO IRRIGATE!
Don’t run your system until the weather is hot and dry. Lawn grass will need watering when it wilts. How will you know? Wilted grass shows your footprint. Generally, late June.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, letting your lawn dry out is actually good for it. Periods of dryness allow the grass to develop deeper, stronger roots that are better able to resist pests, weeds, and drought conditions over time. Too much water promotes fungal growth and nutrient run off, and creates ideal conditions for mosquitoes and other water-loving pests to flourish. Plus, why waste water that your grass doesn’t need anyway?
Rule of thumb for well-established lawns: Wet the soil 6" down, then allow to dry 4-6" down before watering again. How to tell? Dig a hole or use a soil moisture meter.
In the Fall deer rub their antlers on younger trees and can damage, disfigure and even kill them! Larger deer go after the bigger trees. The bark is literally stripped away. They start just after Labor Day, i.e., now! This is the time to protect your tree and shrub trunks from damaging deer rub. Instead of difficult and ugly plastic or metal wraps, we have a great alternative: Biodegradable jute or hemp -- heavy twine or thin rope.
Just wrap it around, barbershop pole style from about 4' high, down to near the ground. You can remove in spring or leave it to rot away.
Cheap, easy, stylish. Done.
But do it soon. The rubbing starts any day now.
Your Plants Are Food For Wildlife
If you see leaf damage, chances are it's the work of a beneficial insect. Bugs gotta eat too. At the sign of a hole in your plant leaf DON'T SPRAY — just take 10 steps back. Amazing... you won’t even notice it anymore.
Trees and shrubs are natural food for the caterpillars that songbirds need to feed their young. Plants are extremely resilient, being eaten is part of their job; a large percentage of leaf surface can be lost before it hurts the host plant.
So step back, hold off on the spray... and don't worry about the bugs. When caterpillars hatch, songbirds won't be far behind!