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Showing posts from January, 2012

An Interesting Insect Found Indoors

Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist

Jeff Hahn
Photo 1: Soldier fly, Ptecticus trivittatus

Many people are familiar with boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian lady beetles, cluster flies, and other nuisance insects that can be found in homes. But occasionally less familiar insects are found inside. On one such occasion, a homeowner reported finding a lot of wasps nesting in her home. In fact, she had identified them from the internet as Cerceris fumipennis.

This wasp species is a solitary wasp in the family Crabronidae. It has gained fame recently as a method for detecting emerald ash borers (EAB). This native ground nesting wasp hunts buprestid beetles, including EAB, which it paralyzes and carries back to its nest to feed its larvae. Location of a nest with captured EAB indicates the presence of EAB in the area. More information on Cerceris wasps can be found here.

This wasp's status is unclear in Minnesota and nests have not been discovered so far. Ultimately, you would …

What's New or What's Good

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension Educator, Horticulture

An enormous interest for most gardeners during our long winter is the search for new cultivars that can be added to next year's garden. But is new always good? The answer to that question depends on whether new cultivars have been shown to perform well in Minnesota gardens before their introduction into garden centers. Horticultural professionals should provide customers with the best performing plant selections for Minnesota's difficult climate. But the current trend in horticulture is to move new plants onto the market in the shortest possible time frame, creating a rapid process of both cultivar introduction and elimination in the market.

This creates several problems for gardeners interested in sustainable gardening and in planting cultivars known to have long-term landscape value. New cultivars are now introduced to Minnesota gardeners from breeding and evaluation programs around the world. When new cultivars are rus…