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Showing posts from October, 2010

The Plight of Bees

Marla Spivak (University of Minnesota); Eric Mader and Mace Vaughan (Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation); Ned Euliss (USGS).
Excerpted from feature article to appear in upcoming issue of Environmental Science and Technology.

Bee Declines

Colony collapse disorder (CCD), the name for the syndrome causing honey bees to suddenly and mysteriously disappear from their hives--thousands of individual worker bees literally flying off to die--captured public consciousness when it was first named in 2007. Since then, the story of vanishing honey bees has become ubiquitous in popular consciousness--driving everything from ice cream marketing campaigns to plots for The Simpsons. The untold story is that these hive losses are simply a capstone to more than a half-century of more prosaic day-to-day losses that beekeepers already faced from parasites, diseases, poor nutrition, and pesticide poisoning.

The larger story still is that while honey bees are charismatic and important to agricultur…

Help Your Woody Ornamentals Survive the Coming Winter

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension Educator

Photo 1: Winter burn symptoms. Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension.The effects of winter sun, wind, temperature fluctuations, snow, and ice can all combine to make winter a high-hazard time for tree and shrub health. Animal browsing is an additional challenge in our winter landscapes. Here's a checklist for gardeners who want to minimize injury to woody ornamentals in the coming winter.

Apply tree wraps and tree guards to prevent sunscald. Sunscald occurs when winter sun heats up bark on the south or west side of a tree enough to stimulate cambial activity. When shading or sunset causes the air temperature to drop quickly, the activated cambium is killed resulting in dead bark on the south or west side of a tree in the form of sunken, dried, or cracked areas. To prevent sunscald, tree wraps and guards should be applied in fall. They should be light-colored to reflect sun and to keep bark at a lower temperature on sunny winter days. Pay special atte…

Pollinator Blues: Part II

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator

Pollinator Blues - Part II

To approach the problem of creating a bee friendly garden,I first researched the plants that are pollinator friendly and created a table of pollinator friendly plants from the Xerces site (Exhibit 1).

Second, I used the following recommendations from the Urban Bee Garden site as criteria for selecting plants; the goal being to insure that continual bee floral food will be available for the complete growing season.

1. Plant a minimum of three plant species that bloom at any given time during the growing season i.e. spring, summer and fall.

2. Each species of flower should be planted to a minimum patch size of approximately 5 ft. x 5 ft. Patch size is important because smaller patch sizes will often be ignored, even if the plant is quite attractive to the bees.

3. Higher bee diversity and abundance occurs when gardens have a rich assortment of bee plants. It also appears that bees remain longer in a garden…

Beware of Bed Bug Internet Hoax

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

There is a story making the rounds on the internet these days. It goes like this:

Hi All: A bit of information that you might like to know about. We have friends here in our community and one of their sons is an entomologist (insect expert), and has been telling them that there is an epidemic of bed bugs now occurring in America. Recently I have heard on the news that several stores in NYC have had to close due to bed bug problems, as well as a complete mall in New Jersey.

He says that since much of our clothing, sheets, towels, etc. now comes from companies outside of America, (sad but true), even the most expensive stores sell foreign clothing from China, Indonesia, etc. The bed bugs are coming in on the clothing as these countries do not consider them a problem. He recommends that if you buy any new clothing, even underwear and socks, sheets, towels, etc. that you bring them into the house and put them in your clothes dryer for at least…

Rust Diseases of Lawn Grasses Very Common this Fall

Bob Mugaas, UMN Extension Educator


Photo 1: Areas of rust infection on Kentucky bluegrass lawn. Bob Mugaas. Rust diseases of our lawn grasses have been on the increase throughout much of this fall period but became especially evident during the drier conditions of October. Rust infestations usually show up as areas of yellow to orange-yellow grass blades, see Picture 1.


Upon closer examination of the grass blade, one will usually see orange colored, tiny tuft-like pustules breaking through the grass leaf surface, see Picture 2. It is these pustules that produce massive numbers of individual spores. These are the same spores that can become air-borne and cover our shoes or lawn mowers in an orange 'powder' as we walk through rust infected areas of the lawn. They can also re-infect other grass plants that in turn can produce more of the same spore producing rust pustules thus carrying on the infection cycle.

What is a rust disease?


Rust diseases have very complex life cycles…

Prevent Snow Mold on Lawns Now

Michelle Grabowski, UMN Extension Educator


Photo 1: Snow mold damage on a lawn in spring 2010 Photo by T. Burnes. In the spring of 2010 snow melted away from yards and landscapes to reveal round dinner plate sized patches of tan or gray matted turf. Two fungi, known as snow molds, were responsible for the damage. Many gardeners were dismayed to learn that little could be done in the spring to cure snow mold. Rather they had to wait for the weather to change and the grass to recover. This is because the time to prevent snow mold is not in the spring. The time is now.


Snow mold is caused by two different fungi, Microdochium nivale and Typhula sp. Both of these fungi thrive at temperatures just above or below freezing with high levels of moisture. Although snow cover is not a requirement for the growth for snow mold, snow cover provides ideal conditions for the fungi. Of course, gardeners cannot control how much snow Minnesota will receive this winter or how long that snow will stay. Gar…

Calendar and Contributors: November 1, 2010

Garden Calendar

Check out more fall tips to reduce snow mold next spring from UMN Extension Educator Bob Mugaas, as featured with Bobby and Belinda on Kare11.

Be a responsible gardener and remove any buckthorn shrubs still growing on your property. They're easy to spot late in autumn when most other shrubs have lost their leaves. Buckthorn has green leaves and small clusters of black berries, with sharp barbs sparsely placed. Unfortunately, they're difficult to dig out. Larger plants will require brush killer next spring or summer. Do you have buckthorn in your yard? Learn more about buckthorn from the Minnesota DNR.

Buckthorn (R. Frangula) and all cultivars are considered to be restricted noxious weeds, according to the DNR. Check this list of Minnesota and Federal Prohibited and Noxious Plants by Scientific Name if you are ever uncertain about something in your yard.


Contributors

The Yard and Garden News will now feature brief profiles of the contributors! We've asked UMN…

Bringing tropical plants into the house for the winter, or a short biochemistry lesson

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator


Jeff Hahn. Each fall brings the challenge of not only what tropical plants to keep over the winter, but also how to keep them healthy in the Minnesota winter home environment. Invariably despite all efforts I will provide winter refuge for aphids and mites. It seems like this is the perfect time to use imidacloprid. As a systemic it will control the aphids and has no chance of impacting natural populations of insect predators or pollinators in this environment. However, Imidacloprid will not control spider mites. Why not?


The fact that an effective insecticide will usually not harm a mite seems counter intuitive. After all they are both Arthropods i.e. small creatures with exoskeletons and jointed appendages. Although following this basic pattern, the body structure differences between mites and insects are dramatic. On closer inspection the mite has no antennae, no wings, 4 pairs of legs, an unsegmented abdomen, and simple eyes. Whereas an in…

Dodge County PSI (Plant Scene Investigation) ISU (Invasive Species Unit)

The following case was brought forth by Detective Marian Kleinwort PSI ISU. The facts of the case were:

1. Original purchase 6 years ago as seed from catalog - unknown; plant name - unknown

2. Leaves appear on new stems at the end of May into June

3. Stems grow very fast in summer sometimes reaching 15 ft.; one witness reported that some of the stems grew 12 - 15 inches in one day this summer

4. Witnesses reported that all growth in the picture was from this year's growth

5. No flowers are produced

6. Leaves do not change color in fall

7. Stems are solid early but become hollow later in the year

6. Each year the shoots die back to the ground and new shoots appear

9. Clumps of the plant have been given to neighbors who report that they have had the plant for 3 years

10. A similar plant is believed to have been observed in a neighboring town


Special Investigator Dr. Mary Meyer was called in as a special consultant on the case. Her findings were as follows:

Genus and species Paulownia tom…

Calendar and Contributors: October 15, 2010

Getting ready to say goodbye to your garden for the winter? U of M Horticulture Science Professor Bud Markhart offers ways to "Spend time in garden now to save money later" in this KARE11 article. (Don't miss the video on the right side!) And remember- when it comes to your garden, it's not goodbye, it's see you later.

*New this month!*
The Yard and Garden News will now feature brief profiles of the contributors! We've asked "What do you like most about your job?" and "What are you passionate about outside of work?" This month will start with the Yard and Garden News Editor, Karl Foord, and the Technical Editor, Bridget Barton.

Karl Foord, UMN Extension Educator; Yard and Garden News Editor
The thing I like most about my job is learning and discovery. For me these are horticultural and biological topics. Such as learning about the importance of pollinators, how insects fly, the variation in the taste of fruits especially apples and strawberr…