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Showing posts from February, 2014

Drugstore beetles: A common stored food pest

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN
Photo 1: Drugstore beetle

There are a variety of beetles that attack stored food products in our homes. One of the most common is the drugstore beetle. This beetle is 1/10th - 1/8th inch long, dark brown, stout, and oval. Its head is hidden when you look at it from above. With magnification, a series of striations or lines running down its wing covers can be seen. They are able to fly and are attracted to lights.

Drugstore beetles feed on almost anything edible and even a few items that aren't (to people). This includes, but is not limited to, flour and other grain-based products, including bread and breakfast cereals, dried fruits, nuts, and spices, such as dried red pepper, as well as dry pet food. They will also feed on drugs (hence their name), dead insects, hair, leather, paper and books, and horns and antlers. They have even been documented chewing through tin foil, lead sheathing, and wood.

When drugstore b…

Favorite plants for Valentine's Day

What is Valentine's Day without expounding on some favorite, romantic plants? Roses are the traditional flower to give on this day of lovers, but as many of my gardening cohorts know, orchids are one of my favorite types of plant life.

According to Orchids of Minnesota by Welby Smith, estimates note upwards to 23,000 species of orchids in the world (7-10% of flowering plants). In Minnesota, we have 42 wild orchids that migrated here - a surprise as we think of orchids as fragile plants and tropical. But think of our state flower - the showy lady's slipper (Cypripedium reginae) - it is an orchid and grows in ditches along our roads! These are some tough organisms - and I find them a real pleasure to grow. Today it's easy and inexpensive to buy orchids - especially moth orchids (Phalaenopsis or "phals" ). I admit to buying one of my most reliable phals at IKEA! (it was my first and pictured here in full bloom).

I have found the limitations for growing orchids as ho…

Yes, You Can Grow Oranges in Minnesota!

Mary H. Meyer, Extension Horticulturist

Mary Meyer
Photo 1: Calamondin orange trees need maximum light, such as the south facing window, shown here. Photo taken January 4, 2014

"Oh my! How do they expect me to grow an orange tree in Pennsylvania?" my Grandmother Rena Anderson exclaimed as she unwrapped her Plant-of-the-Month gift on a summer day in the 1960's as we sat in her screened porch amid her many plants. She laughed and potted the tiny plant. Today I enjoy this same orange tree in an even colder Minnesota climate and yes, it produces oranges!

The calamondin orange ( Citrofortunella mitis) is a tough houseplant IF you have enough sunlight and can keep it watered in well drained soil. My plant spends May-October in an unheated porch with large south facing windows and the rest of the year in a corner of my living room with south and west facing windows (Photo 1).

In other words: the brightest light we can supply in Minnesota. Over the nearly 50 years since my grand…

Take a Survey and Win an iPad Mini

K. Zuzek, UMN Extension Photo 1: Rose frost University of Minnesota Extension is still looking for feedback from gardeners, horticultural professionals, and other members of the public to help direct future tree and shrub educational programming. Don't delay. Tell your friends. By taking a short 10-15 minute survey, you will be entered into a drawing to win an iPad mini. Find the survey here.

Thanks you for your help in planning future Extension educational programs! If you have questions regarding this survey, please contact: Kathy Zuzek, Extension Educator - Woody Ornamentals, University of Minnesota Extension at (952) 237-0229.

Registration Open: Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science (Online Course)

Dear Yard and Garden News Readers,

For those of you that are interested in learning more about lawn care and turfgrass science but have been unable to attend the School of Turfgrass Management in the past, we've developed a new offering for you, The 2014 Great Lakes School of Turfgrass Science. Much like the traditional turf school, this class was designed as a basic foundation of turfgrass science education for those that don't have a formal degree in turfgrass science or those looking for a refresher. Along with the traditional instructors from the University of Minnesota (Sam Bauer and Dr. Brian Horgan) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Dr. Doug Soldat, Dr. Paul Koch, and Dr. Chris Williamson), we've also added instructors from five other universities:

Dr. Dave Chalmers- South Dakota State
Dr. Kevin Frank- Michigan State
Dr. Dave Gardner- Ohio State
Dr. Aaron Patton- Purdue
Dr. Frank Rossi- Cornell University

This ten person team of instructors brings a whole n…

Registration now open for Forest Pest First Detector Workshops

Jeff Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Jeff Hahn, University of Minnesota Photo 1: Attendees at a Forest Pest First Detector workshop Are you tree care professional or a forester? Are you a Master Gardener, Master Naturalist, Tree Care Advisor or other Master Volunteer interested in trees? If so and you would like to learn about early detection forest pests like emerald ash borer, gypsy moth, Asian longhorned beetle, thousand cankers disease, Oriental bittersweet and other pests of special concern, please consider attending a Forest Pest First Detector workshops.

Workshop information can be found here; register early, registration is limited. Please note our first of six workshops will be on Wednesday, February 19 at the MN Arboretum. Our last workshop will be at the Woodland Owner Conference in Rochester on Arbor Day. Also, if you'd like to register to take the Tree Inspector Exam you MUST preregister (a choice on the Forest Pest First Detector workshop form) to take it after the wor…

Cold snap is no snow day for emerald ash borer management

By Rob Venette, Lindsey Christianson and Mark Abrahamson

Emerald ash borer (EAB) causes problems when it becomes very abundant in an area. Populations grow slowly until they reach a "tipping point" after which they can grow very rapidly - killing many trees in a short time (1-3 years). We have found that some EAB larvae begin to freeze and die at around -20 F and that survival is very unlikely when temperatures reach below -30 F. In areas where the coldest winter temperature is generally warmer than -20°F, cold mortality is unlikely to have much or any impact on the population increase of EAB.
Rob Venette - USDA Forest Service
Photo 1: Hypothetical example of EAB population increase to illustrate the possible effects of yearly 60% mortality and 90% mortality In areas where the coldest winter temperature is generally between -20°F and -30°F, cold mortality may delay the increase of EAB to levels that kill trees, but EAB should still be expected to reach tree-killing le…

Impact of cold weather on insects

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN Ext.
Photo 1: Boxelder bugs aggregate into clusters and use supercooling to protect themselves from extreme cold

With the intense cold weather we have recently experienced,
a natural question to ask is what effect this will have on insects.While the optimistic amongst us are hoping
that it will wipe them out, especially the types we like the least like
boxelder bugs and mosquitoes, the truth is it will probably have a minimal
effect on most insects, especially our native species.
Like their human counterparts, native insects have lived in
Minnesota a long time and know how to survive during the winter, even in extreme
weather conditions.That is not to say
that some insects won't die as a result of temperatures around -20o
F or colder, but most will live to see spring.So how do they do that?Insects
have several strategies for surviving cold.These options were nicely outlined in the fact sheet Tough Buggers: Insect strategi…