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Showing posts from April, 2015

Watch out for ticks!

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Spring is finally here.  And it once again is tick season.  Be aware of these blood thirsty arachnids when you are in fields, wooded areas, and other areas where ticks are know to frequent.  There are two common ticks in Minnesota, the blacklegged tick (also called deer tick) and the American dog tick (also called wood tick).

Both are nuisances because they bite to take a blood meal from not only people but also pests including dogs and horses. Blacklegged (deer) ticks are also a particular issue because they are a potential vector of Lyme disease and other diseases (see also Tick-borne disease in Minnesota). 

Protect yourself when you are out in known tick areas:
Stay on trails and try to stay out of brushy, grassy areas where ticks are more common.  Wear long, light colored pants; for additional protection, tuck your pants into your socks.  Use repellants: Deet can be treated on clothes and skin while products with permethrin can only be applied…

Ignore Andrenid Bees

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Andrenid bees are a type of native ground-nesting bee that is first seen during early spring. Residents are discovering them now in their gardens and lawns.  Some people have been concerned that these insects may be ground dwelling yellowjackets (wasps) but the overwintering queens are only just starting to build new nests and people would not be seeing any activity from their nests this early.

Unlike honey bees and bumble bees which are social insects, andrenid bees are solitary so there is only one bee in a nest. But they are gregarious which means that there are many nests in a small area. They prefer to construct their nests in loose soils, like sandy or sandy loam soils. It is common to find andrenid bee nests on dry sunny slopes or small hills. The nests are somewhat mounded up and can resemble ant nests.

An andrenid bee is about ½ inch long with a black abdomen (sometime it has bands of hair giving it a striped appearance) and has whitish…

Check Junipers for Disease Damage

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension

Junipers may be tall, upright, and stately, or low creeping shrubs, but regardless of form, many junipers sport dead tips and brown needles in early spring. To determine the appropriate management strategy, gardeners must take a closer look to ascertain the true cause of the damage.

Kabatina blight - Look for brown tips and dead needles on the end of branches. At the point where brown and green tissue meet, the stem is gray and small raised black spots can be seen with a hand lens. This fungal pathogen infects wounds caused by insect feeding or snow load. Branches that are 1 year old are most commonly affected and symptoms are easily seen in early spring before new growth begins. To manage this disease, clip off diseased branch ends on a cool dry day. Burn or bury infected branches.

Phomopsis shoot blight - Symptoms are similar to Kabatina shoot blight. Branch tips are brown with dead needles. A section of gray stem tissue is seen where the green and brown t…

EAB confirmed in Fillmore County

How to find help with a home landscape

Home owners often ask Extension how to find a student, a Master
Gardener, or an industry professional to help them with a home landscaping project or garden design.  They wonder if students need projects, if Master Gardeners can do this kind of activity for their volunteer hours or how to choose a landscape professional.

Landscape professionals typically have a degree in landscape design or a related area, and /or are licensed as a landscape architect. Some garden centers offer full service landscape design, implementation and maintenance services. Homeowners can also find firms by searching the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association website. Use the search function to find the type of help you are looking for in your geographical location; for example, "landscape designer St. Paul, MN". Word-of-mouth is also a very good way to find a landscape professional. When you see a landscape you love, ask the homeowner for a recommendation.   

To reach students looking for se…

Back to Bleach to Keep Pruning Tools Clean

M. Grabowski, UMN Extension

Q&A: Organic Lawn Care

Question: I have read the report on but still not sure what I need to do to get rid of weeds in my lawn naturally. We have not treated our lawn for a while and now gradually grass is being replaced by clover and other weeds. Any suggestions? We would like to avoid chemicals in our yard.

Answer: Thank you for your question. The goal: keep your lawn as healthy as possible through good cultural practices. This will enable it to out-compete weeds and tolerate the heat of the summer and winter cold. Here are some steps you can take to manage weeds in your lawn without chemicals. Note that these are considered "cultural methods" of management and must be ongoing to be continually effective.

Re-think your idea of a "perfect lawn". Accept some non-grass plants in your lawn. Dandelions and clover are good plants for bees as they provide early season pollen and nectar.
Raise your mower blade to 3". Longer …

Spring Preemergent Applications for Crabgrass

Every year around this time I start receiving questions regarding when to apply preemergent herbicides for preventing crabgrass establishment in lawns. Crabgrass germination is driven by soil temperatures and because of this we cannot rely on a calendar date to tell us when to apply our preemergent products. The reality is, if we wait too long and miss the window of opportunity to apply crabgrass preventers, these products will not do much for control of crabgrass. For this reason I like to rely on a couple of website resources that help to determine when to make these applications.  The first website that I like to use can be found here: This is a site operated by Michigan State University and the model uses air temperature predictors to determine when to apply crabgrass preventers. Simply select the tab "Crabgrass PRE", enter your zip code, and the map will be created.  For a more detailed explanation of how to utilize this website for crabgrass …