got green worms!
What is the green worm that eats my roses and
columbine every year?
A: It is hard to diagnose your problem without
seeing the caterpillar. There are several green
worms that bother roses, and one can be controlled
with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) but rose slug,
for example, cannot. Proper identification is
necessary before applying any control method.
Do not use an insecticide for anything that"s
not on on the product label. Do not use any insecticide
as a preventive measure. It doesn"t work and ends
up being harmful to the environment and a waste
of your money.
Green worm on your columbine could be an inch
worm or canker worm. If the caterpillar loops
up in the center or arches as it moves along,
it could be a looper or cabbage worm. Leaf miners,
which are usually white or pink, tunnel in the
leaves. "To eliminate insects, use insecticidal
soap," said Nancy Clifton, Chicago Botanic
Garden Plant Information Specialist.
For an exact diagnosis, consult your local University
of Illinois Extension service or collect a specimen
and bring it to the Plant Information Service
at the Chicago Botanic Garden or the Morton Arboretum.
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Q: I am sick
of slugs. Perhaps if I knew their life cycle I
could get rid of them. Where do they go over winter?
Where do they come from? What is the best way
to get rid of them?
A: Slugs are gastropods belonging to the mollusk
class. They have lungs and can breathe air and
live one year. At nightime, to conserve moisture,
they feed by biting tissue with a rasping mouth
underneath their body. They move by sliding over
slime secreted by a large muscular foot and constantly
lose water from this slime production and evaporation.
make matters worse, they are hermaphrodites having
both male and female organs and can deposit egg-like
clusters of 1/8 inch pearls in soil where they
overwinter. Their growth is activated by rising
soil humidity and temperature in the spring, according
to Ed Valauskas, Manager of Library and Plant
Information Services at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
if your soil is relatively slug free, they
come in from a neighbor's yard or live in the
soil of container-grown plants. If you garden
in very sandy, fast draining soil, you will
not have many of these pests, but in heavy clay
soil, slugs find constant moisture that suits
their life style.
feed on plants with moisture in them, especially
hosta, ligularia, dahlia and begonia leaves, lettuce,
strawberries and tomatoes. They hide by day and
feed at night or on gray, damp days. Go outside
with a flashlight after 10 p.m. and look for them
under boards, rocks or pots and destroy them.
Skrzenta of Laurie's Landscape, a Downers Grove
hosta grower, keeps the hosta area dry and
water them because slugs do not live in dry locations.
She depends on rainfall and maintains that
can exist without supplemental water. Laurie
also suggested using coarse sand as a mulch.
possibility is to sprinkle sand in the center
of your dormant hostas since this is where
slugs lay their eggs.
are many home remedies to get rid of slugs including
beer, ammonia water, ice water, and yeast water.
Gardener Anna Hevrdejs, Woodridge, suggests sprinkling
corn meal around slug areas. Slugs like to eat
it, then die. Replace it after a rain. She also
claims that sweet woodruff planted around hostas
restrains the slug population.
metaldehyde or methiocarb pellets are useful but
they can be attractive to dogs and children. They
are very toxic. Much safer is a copper strip laid
around the areas to be protected, although this
is not practical in an ornamental garden. Back
Q. I thought that purple coneflowers were insect proof, but now I see some aphids at the bud and tiny flies. What is wrong?
A. Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a common native perennial that grows best in sandy or well-draining soil and full sun. If you are not giving your plant these growing conditions, certain insects can attack your plants.
Aphids are sometimes visible on buds, and as sucking insects they cause stunted and deformed leaves. Spider mites are tiny insects that often multiply in hot, dry conditions. Spider mites feed on sap and cause yellowish leaves. Thrips are barely visible, tiny insects causing bud malformation.
Q. Do the ants on my peony flowers help buds to open, or is this an old wives' tale? What are the extremely tiny, microscopic yellow wormy looking bugs crawling on my pink peony flowers? My peonies are beautiful, but I don't want all these bugs.
A. Peony buds exude a sweet viscous sap that attracts ants. The ants do not generally affect the opening of peony buds. The old tale could have arisen because ants are occasionally seen eating large transparent drops of sap on the buds.
The tiny worms you describe are common yellow thrips, which are attracted to light-colored flowers. Thrips suck juice from buds, petals and leaves. Their triangular bodies are too small and move too fast to be hosed off the plant. A systemic insecticide should be used to prevent plant injuries.
"Peonies are such old time nostalgic favorites that people excuse their shortcomings," says Mary Ellen Murphy, perennial plant specialist, Pesche's Garden Center, Des Plaines. "To use the flowers indoors in cut arrangements, pick them when the buds are soft and show color, and then rinse the stems outside with a hose to remove insects." Back to top
Q. How can I get rid of voles? I think they are doing a lot of damage to
A. Voles are mice-like rodents that gnaw on roots and bulbs. They are hard to control.
There are repellents on the market that you can try -- Deer Off, Moletox, and a new product named Shot Gun Repel. The latter repellent was designed specifically to protect bulbs from chipmunks, moles, voles and mice. Treat the bulbs before storing
or planting. Remove old skin and soil, and then spray thoroughly until wet. Allow the bulbs to dry before storing or planting. Back to top
Q. We are first-time gardeners and have planted Brussels sprouts and green and red cabbage that we are trying to grow organically. There are black egg sacs and small green worms eating the leaves. Is there an organic product we can use on the cabbage?
A. Egg sacs can be washed off with a hose.
There are several organic methods you can use to deter cabbage worms. Lightweight polypropylene row covers, placed over a row of plants and supported by hoops, will block wind and insects while permitting light, air and rain to reach the plants. Hold down the row covers with soil, stones or bricks.
Another organic method uses pots of mint growing between cabbage plants. The mint odor is said to deter cabbage moths. Don't let the mint take root, however; it will take over your garden. Rotenone dust is considered organic, as it leaves no poisonous residue on plants. The use of hot pepper spray is an irritant to insects and worms, but also to your skin and eyes. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a
specific biological control that is fatal to cabbage worms if ingested. Note that it can be harmful to certain
butterfly larvae. Back to top
Q. Which flowers can we plant that the bunnies won't eat? My pansies and marigolds are all eaten.
A. Rabbits love crisp tasty plants as much as we do. Besides lettuce, they eat everything in the legume family, including beans, peas and sweet peas. Experienced gardeners know they have to protect these plants with row covers.
Annual pansies, nasturtiums, marigolds, impatiens, fibrous begonias, and lisianthus are some of their favorites, especially early in the growing season. Ageratum and sweet alyssum are two annuals rabbits do
Some perennials are not bothered by rabbits, says Kim Schroeder,
perennial buyer, Wasco Nursery, St. Charles. These are English ivy, ajuga, yarrow, artemisia, lily-of-the-valley, foxglove, aconite, iris, peony, poppies, thyme, lychnis, lamb's ears, ground-covering sedums, salvia and santolina.
For added protection, when you are setting out new plants, spray them at once with rabbit repellent so bunnies will learn to avoid that area, and
re-spray after rain. Back to top