Tag: Spring

How to Spot Rose Sawfly on Your Roses

 

lightly damaged rose leaves by sawfly

A friend of mine has some roses that I noticed looked a bit brown. Upon closer inspection, the leaves looked skeletonized, like the damage a Japanese beetle does, but this was sucked dry, but not chewed through. It’s also a bit too early for Japanese beetle. Keep looking…

The rose sawfly has one generation a year, with larvae appearing in mid to late spring.

sawfly larvae on rose leaf

The larvae fall from the plants and tunnel into the soil by mid-June, but it’s a bit earlier this year.  They remain dormant underground until next spring, when the adults emerge and lay eggs on the new rose foliage to begin the cycle over again.

saw rose fly larvae

Larvae can be effectively controlled with a neem oil product or an insecticidal soap. Spray only the leaves (both sides), in the morning as neem oil can possibility hurt pollinators (More research needs to go into that). The strategy is to find larvae while they are still small and before damage becomes severe, like my friend’s roses! There is no need for control after the larvae have finished eating and left the plants, give or take mid-July.

One last note, these are not caterpillars, they are actually primitive wasps, so Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis will not work.

© The Naturarian

Why Bulbs Aren’t Happy Looking Up Annuals Butts…

orange tulipsI was asked by a client the other day if we could plant her annual flowers right over her tulips, with the intent to allow the bulbs to ‘multiply’. I had to pass on bad news. Bulbs and annuals don’t play nicey-nice together. At least not with the selection we have here in the Midwest…

  • Bulbs should be planted at the correct depth for the bulb. If a bulb is planted too deep, to make room for the annual above, it may not grow.
  • Tulip foliage must be allowed to die-back naturally and will make an annual display look a bit messy until the foliage has died back and been removed. If you must prune the leaves back, there’s very little chance you’ll see tulips next Spring.
  • Bulbs, tulips in particular, do not multiply*, rather they disintegrate over time in the ground unless removed after the foliage has died back naturally, are stored properly and replanted in the fall. (Side note: Tulips give 3 years of service, in my opinion.)
  • Annuals planted over bulbs will remove all the nutrients from the surrounding soil leaving the bulb starved.
  • Bulbs need dry conditions, if annuals are planted above bulbs they will rot from the added water annual flowers require.

*Daffodils do multiply, however all the rest of the conditions would not be good for daffodil bulbs either.

 

© The Naturarian

American Robins (Turdus migratorius) Nesting Outside My Door

robins nest in my flower pot attached to houseRobins are the largest North American thrushes. They are named after the European Robin (Erithacus rubecula), however they aren’t in the same family.

Females have paler heads with a grayer back than the male.robin's nest with blue eggs

Robins are not cavity nesters and prefer to nest in evergreens and eaves. They also like to nest near humans. In the below photo, that is our main entrance in the background, with our driveway/parking to the right.

Robins build their nests with long coarse grass, twigs, paper, feathers and is fastened with mud. The inside is softened with grass or other materials. An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year.

I left a pot on the side of my house and Ms. Robin took advantage of the situation.

baby bird robins in nestRobins eat different types of food depending on the time of day: earthworms in the morning and fruit later in the day. Because the robin forages largely on lawns, it is susceptible to pesticide poisoning and can be an important indicator of chemical pollution.Baby robins in nest

There were five bundles of joy in her nest.

Robins are among the first birds to sing at dawn. This possibly relates the saying, “The early bird gets the worm”.

Robin bird trying to be scary
Mom sometimes thought we were getting too close to the nest. INCOMING!!

The Robin uses sound, smell and possibly feels its prey moving in the ground with its feet, however vision is the major method of prey detection. In addition to hunting visually, it also has the ability to hunt by hearing. Experiments have discovered that Robins can find worms underground by simply using its listening skills. So all the cute running, stopping, hopping, and cocking of the head is how a Robin find its breakfast.

mom robin sitting on nestRobin roosts can be huge, sometimes including a 250,000 birds during winter. In summer, the females sleep in their nests and males gather at roosts. As young robins become independent, they join the males. Female adults join the roosts only after they have finished nesting. These guys left one by one, until there were none!

© The Naturarian

 

Why Native Plants Rock – Part 2 of 4

Dutchman's breeches white flower
Dicentra cucullaria – Dutchman’s breeches

OUR NATIVE PLANT SPECIES

Encouraging native plant use in the landscape can help the community save local native species, help with water related issues, and reduce pollution. Using native plants will help correct the problems connected with compaction and soil health.

Native plants can be defined as being indigenous or occurring naturally in a given geographic area and not introduced to that area by humans. When it comes to native plants, the “geographical area” is a 50-mile radius. The distinction between native and non-native species is important because native species have generally adapted and evolved with the competing species, predators, and diseases of an area over many thousands of years. Native species are therefore generally in reasonable ecological balance with their associates and competitors, and have pests, predators, or diseases that limit their abundance.

chart showing how deep our native plant roots goThe Lake County area was part of the tall grass prairie lands, and the soils are the richest of all the soil orders. The reason for this is native plants have extensive root systems which improve the ability of the soil to infiltrate water and withstand wet or erosive conditions. When comparing root systems of non-native to native plants, the differences are obvious. Most native plants roots are 2-3 times longer and more fibrous than non-natives are. The root systems of a native plant are on an average 7′ feet deep, with some reaching up to 15′ feet. Because roots reach these depths, the soil becomes very rich with nutrients at lower levels.

Soil taxonomists have assigned the name “Mollisol” (soil order) to this type of soil, characterized as having a dark-colored organic surface layer of approximately 1”-3” (O horizon), and an extensive next layer of dark loamy soil (A horizon) from 3’ – 18” down.

A homeowner can reduce their time input, money, water use and pollution output by just reducing the lawn size of their property and adding native plant gardens. After a native plant garden establishes itself (1 – 3 years), the maintenance time involved plummets. More garden areas mean less lawn areas, and all the maintenance requirements of it. The cost of a native garden can be very affordable, as seeds can cost as little as $30 covering a 500 square feet area. After removal of the lawn (sod remover rental of $48/day), installation is as easy as a disk tiller (rental for the day $32), some hard work, and the seed. This method is for a patient person, as some flowering, native plants (forbs = flowering plants) can take up to 3 years to bloom. Most homeowners would like to have something to look at quickly, so mature plants would be best, or another possibility is a mix of plugs (immature plants) and seed.

The newly seeded/planted area will need extra water to germinate/get started and throughout the first season. However, after a native garden becomes established, the plants can withstand most droughts, only needing a small amount of water in desperate times. This saves time, money and resources.

Lastly, native plants do not need any commercial fertilizer, which pollutes the environment. Natives are happy to receive compost as a method to get vitamins. Compost application can be as easy as leaving vegetation and leaf residues to over-winter, taking free manure from any of the horse farms nearby (remember to dig deep for the good stuff!!) or from your compost bin. Many natives, mostly of the wetland type, can actually extract toxins from the soil, mitigating damage done from commercial fertilizers.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow we’ll discuss some ‘lawn substitutions’ for those die-hard lawn fans.

© The Naturarian

It’s Zimmerman Pine Moth Time!

Zimmerman pine moth’s pitch tube on pine.

Any time there is a drought the previous summer/fall, Austrian, Scots, and red pines of the Midwest are susceptible to the Zimmerman pine moth (Dioryctria zimmermani). Why? In a nutshell, if a tree has enough water (turgid), any boring insect would get pushed out via the high pressure of fluids in the tree. This is why it it important to be sure your trees are getting enough water in the autumn.

White, tan or rust-colored resin flowing on the trunk could indicate the presence of the moth’s caterpillar-like larva. Finding one or two boring points is usually of no concern. Heavier infestations could cause weakened trees to become susceptible to other pests and diseases, eventually killing the tree. Heavily infested trees should be removed, so they don’t become a nursery for the moths.

It is critical to understand the life cycle of the Zimmerman pine moth [ZPM] for proper management. The tiny caterpillar over-winters in a silken cocoon-like structure just under the bark. Now, in the early spring, the caterpillars feed on the bark for a week or two, then tunnel into the main trunk, usually in a whorl area. Resin is pushed out by the insect causing a ‘pitch tube’. Fresh pitch tubes are white to tan, the consistency of lard and have a shiny appearance. Old tubes are yellow to grey, crystallized and hard, with a dull appearance. It is important not be confused by old tubes and new, which all together, may look like an infestation.

In mid-summer, the caterpillars pupate either inside the external resin or within their tunnels. At this time, it may be possible to kill the pupa by hitting the resin with a rubber mallet. I love organic cures!

The adults emerge as small grey moths in mid to late August. These moths fly at night and are rarely seen. Females lay their eggs on the trunk under the bark, thus beginning the cycle.

Management of ZPM begins with tree care including proper mulching, watering, pruning and fertilization. Healthy trees do not get attacked.

Insecticides should be applied during the two vulnerable times in the ZPM cycle. These times are mid to late April, as the over-wintering caterpillars become active, and in August, when the female moth has just laid her eggs and the caterpillars are searching for over wintering sites. Indicator plants for these spray times are when the saucer magnolia is in pink bud to early bloom, or in mid to late summer when panicle hydrangea is pink. Spraying branches and foliage is not necessary & wasteful.  Permethrin or bifenthrin are preventative sprays that are available for use by homeowners. Spraying at any other time is inefficient, as it has no effect and the insecticide may kill predators of the Zimmerman pine moth.

© The Naturarian

13 Illinois Toads and Frogs

Here in the Midwest, you may not be able to see the flowers blooming yet, but you can hear the local residence waking from their long, winter slumber.

Vernal pools have started to form from the melted snow and early spring rainfall that the ground can’t uptake because of the frost line or excessive saturation. These vernal pools (also called ephemeral, temporary, or seasonal ponds) are where many frogs, salamanders and newts call home. These pools provide protection from predators that live in permanent bodies of water including fish, invertebrate predators, and even other amphibians, such as American Bullfrogs and Northern Green Frogs.

Frogs & toads are pretty cool creatures that can survive winters by hibernating and by having antifreeze run through their veins! Terrestrial frogs normally hibernate on land. American toads (Bufo americanus) and other frogs that are good diggers burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Aquatic frogs such as the American bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) and the leopard frog (Rana pipiens) typically hibernate underwater. Some frogs, such as the wood frog (Rana sylvatica) and the spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), are not skilled at digging and seek out deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or just dig down as far as they can in the leaf litter.

Most frogs have amazing proteins in their blood, called nucleating proteins, that cause the water in their blood to freeze first. This ice sucks most of the water out of the frog’s cells dehydrating them. Then the frog’s liver starts making large amounts of glucose (a type of sugar) which fills into the cells and plumps them up. The concentrated sugar solution helps avoid additional water from being pulled out of the frog’s cells, which can cause death.

Right now, the majority of calls I hear are from the Western Chorus Frog. I think they sound like the noise made by running your finger over the teeth of a comb. Frogs and toads make many different calls that all sound alike, however mating calls are specific, which are what you will hear in the soundtracks. This is the easiest way to ID frogs, as seeing them at night might nearly be impossible.

Frogs of Illinois:

Western_chorus_frog
Western chorus frog

Western Chorus Frog – Pseudacris triseriata

Wood frog
Wood Frog

Wood Frog – Lithobates sylvaticus

American Toad
American Toad

American Toad – Anaxyrus americanus

Bull Frog
Bull Frog

Bull Frog – Lithobates catesbeianus

Tree Frog
Copes Grey Tree Frog

Copes Grey Tree Frog – Hyla chrysoscelis

Cricket Frog
Cricket Frog

Cricket Frog – Acris crepitans

frog
Eastern Grey Tree Frog

Eastern Grey Tree Frog – Hyla versicolor

Fowlers toad
Fowlers Toad

Fowlers Toad – Anaxyrus fowleri syn. Bufo fowleri 

Green Frog
Green Frog

Green Frog – Lithobates clamitans

Green Frog SOS Call

Northern Leopard Frog
Northern Leopard Frog

Northern Leopard Frog – Lithobates pipiens

Frog
Pickerel Frog

Pickerel Frog – Lithobates palustris

Plaines Frog
Plains Leopard Frog

Plains Leopard Frog – Lithobates blairi

Spring peeper frog
Spring Peeper Frog

Spring Peeper – Pseudacris crucifer

This one has to be my favorite. It’s just so cute!!

Credit: IL D N R for the Frog Calls!

© The Naturarian

Common Snowdrops ~ Galanthus nivalis ~ Blooming 3-23-2019

White snowdrop bulb bloomingWow! A Saturday post! 😉white snowdrop bulb blooming I usually like to collect
my photos on the weekends and post on the weekdays, HOWEVER, this was too awesome to wait!

I noticed this little donation from Mother Nature on the side of my house last year! I didn’t see any in the past, however, it was April 9th when I had discovered them last year. Way later than this year. I hope this is a good sign that things will progress a bit faster this year! Mr. Groundhog is hopefully right.

© The Naturarian

Finally! Happy Spring!

white daisies and light green carnations in a vasecandle, shamrock plant and driftwood on bamboo placematt Mother Nature may not feel the same way, but my calendar tells me it’s so! I really want to burn my winter coat and move south… Reeeeally far south, as most of our nation got to experience winter this year.

Happy Spring to all!!

Remember, I’m still taking orders for Spring Annual Pots! Contact me for a quote.

© The Naturarian

Mr. Robin Singing His Love Song

Let me translate:

Hello my Love, wherever you are!

I will sing until I find you.

I’ll bring you worms and seeds for our babies!

To you I will always be true!!

I’m so happy to see the Robins back! We hoomans like everything in order, which is why we had to place Spring on a calendar. In my opinion, Spring happens when nature tells us its happening!

Have a Happy Spring Everyone!!