Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grasshopper control for the Homeowner

This is the week of June 20, 2010 and site visit calls have started asking about grasshopper controls from Holyoke to Burlington in the Golden Plains Area. The grasshoppers are in record numbers and are being found not only in tall grass or weeds, but in shrubs and trees. In the Holyoke Community Garden in Holyoke in some taller grass by our cutting garden, there were more than 25 nymphs in one square foot. The Holyoke Community Garden is located in town and in years past has not had a problem until after wheat harvest.

Colorado State University Extension has a great fact sheet titled: Grasshopper Control for Small Acerage and Gardens. There is a list of controls that are available for the homeowner. Some of these are listed below, but for further reading visit CSU Extension Website and go to fact sheets:

1)Common name: Carbaryl Trade name: Sevin
2)Common name: Acephate Trade name: Orthene
3)Common name: Permethrin Trade name: Many trade names.
4)Common name: Nosema locustae Trade name: NOLO Bait or Semaspore

If you are interested in hiring a licensed pesticide applicator, then the recommendation is as follows:

1)Common name: Diflubenzuron Trade name: Dimilin (this is a restricted use pesticide)

Think about calling your neighbor and getting a larger area sprayed at one time and splitting the cost.

If you are into the organic methods and want to use poultry livestock to control the grasshoppers then purchase turkeys, guinea hens and chickens. If you decide on chickens, they scratch and will damage young plants.

Other alternatives like vegetable oils or garlic-based preparations are not recommended and may increase feeding on plants.

Once again, go to CSU Extension Website and click on fact sheets and read more about grasshoppers. This season may take an arsensal of different chemicals and techniques. Let's get creative and devise new techniques. Here is an organic method, called electrocution like bug zappers. Remember necessity is the mother of invention.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar

In case you are wondering, these are not nasty pests. Folks have collected the caterpillars and brought them into the office for identification. These caterpillars are not pests. They will feed on the leaves of plants in the Parsley family and sometimes with plants in the Citrus family. So, for our Colorado area, if you have any carrots, dill or parsley in your garden and find these caterpillars, the pictures to the right are the adult butterflies. The adult butterflies feed on nectar from red clover, thistle and milkweed. So in order for this butterfly to complete its lifecycle it needs different plants at each stage to survive. Like this black swallowtail, there are many moths and butterflies which are important pollinators across the United States. All of the pollinators have a limited palette and without the necessary plants, they become extinct.

Recognize the underwing Moth?

Have you seen these before? The underwing Moth is in the Noctuidae family in the order Lepidoptera. The adult moths are active at night and spend the day resting upside down with wings open against the bark of trees. The picture to the left is the caterpillar stage of an underwing moth. The moth acquired its name because of the colorful patterns on the hindwings which are covered by the forewings while resting. Hence, the colors of black, red or yellow are displayed while in flight.

This catepillar stage of the lifecycle feeds at night and rests during the day hiding in the crevices of the tree bark. Like all butterflies and moths, the catepillar is the second stage in the what is termed a complete lifecycle. First, during the summer the female lays the eggs in small clusters in the tree bark. Second, a catepillar emerges the following spring as the leaf buds begin to swell and feed on the leaves of willows, poplars, cherry trees and walnuts. The eggs are very hardy and can survive a dry and cold winter.

There are more than 200 species of underwing moths across the United States. Below is a picture of the adult stage of an underwing moth: