Archive for the ‘Educational Resources’ Category

Gardening for Pollinators Webinar Resources

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Getting ready for the eXtension Gardening for Pollinators Webinar (that link goes to the recording) has been fun.

Pollinator feeding on echinacea

Pollinator feeding on echinacea

The intent of the Webinar is for gardeners to learn why pollinators are important, who they are, and some basic ways you can support them in your garden– all in time to be prepared for the upcoming National Pollinator Week, June 17-23.

To quote the pollinator partnership website:

Pollinator Week is a week to get the importance of pollinators’ message out to as many people as possible. It’s not too early to start thinking about an event at your school, garden, church, store, etc. Pollinators positively effect all our lives- let’s SAVE them and CELEBRATE them!

Since we opened Webinar registration, we’ve heard from gardeners from 28 states, and along the way they’ve shared some of their favorite pollinator plants and asked about various ‘gardening for pollinator’ resources.

Thus as the Webinar itself is 60 minutes, but the questions and resource list keeps growing, we’d thought we’d share this growing list of resources with you here:

Gardening for Pollinators Webinar Resources

These are resources developed specifically for the eXtension Gardening for Pollinators Webinar, held June 6, 2013.

  • Gardening for Pollinators Pinboard - If you are a visual kind of person, we’ve gathered many of these resources and pollinator plant ideas from this webinar. Click on the individual “pin” or picture and it will take you to the original source or web page.

Finding Pollinator Events,  Plants and People Near You?

Butterfly Garden at Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin

Butterfly Garden at Milwaukee County Zoo, Wisconsin

So what about during National Pollinator Week?  What if you have more questions about gardening for pollinators after the Webinar? The following resources may help.

  • National Pollinator Events – Find or list a pollinator week event that you know of through this link.
  • Pollinator friendly planting guides via the Pollinator Partnership are divided into 32 eco-regions, so there should be one for you. You can also download the Pollinator Partnership app to get plant recommendations via smartphone.
  • Pollinator and Bug Blogs –
    • Catch up continually with insect and pollinator news from our Webinar presenter , Denise Ellsworth’s OSU pollination blog. Here you’ll find snippets of the latest research and pollinator facts.
    • Stop back at the Extension Master Gardener blog to view ‘Pollinators’ blog posts for how gardeners are incorporating pollinators into their gardens.
    • The BugSquad bug from University of California —  another great blog to learn the latest on bees, insects, and pollinators.
  • Looking to contact a person? If you have a question about growing pollinator plants that you can’t find on the open web, you might like to consult a local extension horticulture professional or Extension Master Gardener via one of these methods.
  • Contact your local Cooperative Extension office or website to find resources and people to answer your gardening questions. Many offices support phone hotlines or have host plant clinic workshops certain days of the week or month.
  • Reach your local extension professionals or Extension Master Gardeners through eXtension’s Ask an Expert email based service to get a response.

Additional Resources?

We know this is just the tip of the iceberg, so if you have other pollinator webinar resources you’d like to share,  be sure to leave us a comment on this blog posts.

-Karen Jeannette
on behalf of the Extension Master Gardener Social Media Team

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eLearn Urban Forestry Course for Extension Master Gardeners Available Through eXtension

Monday, April 29th, 2013

 

eLearn Urban Forestry is a new online course now available for Extension Master Gardeners and others interested in learning more about urban forestry.

As most of us know, healthy urban forests require a strong investment, and not just from the individuals and communities who benefit directly from these forests, but also from volunteers and professionals providing the expertise and care to support them. As an Extension Master Gardener volunteer, you might find yourself interested in knowing more about what it takes to select, plant, and maintain trees in urban areas to ensure their maximum benefit.

Well, now you can with eLearn Urban Forestry, a state-of-the-art online learning opportunity designed specifically for those working or volunteering in urban forestry situations, but not classically trained in urban forestry. eLearn Urban Forestry in part of the new Trees for Energy Conservation resource area on eXtension, and is led by urban forestry team members from across the U.S

Complete eLearn Urban Forestry Course to Earn Credits/Certificate

The eLearn Urban Forestry Course is available for volunteer credit/certification, but individual modules can also be viewed at anytime, in any order, as a training resource.

Check with your local Master Gardener coordinator to see if you can earn volunteer credit and/or apply your certificate of completion to your local program training requirements. (Note: If you found this blog posts and are looking for professional credits to apply to your work, you can access the site for credit from the International Society of Arboriculture and Society of American Foresters, by visiting cfegroup.org. You can also review modules for free by visiting elearn.sref.info.)

Access the training for Extension Master Gardeners by visiting campus.extension.org (see how to enroll below).  This eLearn Urban Forestry course is made up of 10 modules, each module being about 1 hour each. The modules are interactive and self-paced and the whole program can take around 10-15 hours to complete.

Module topics include:
  • Module 1: Costs and Benefits of the Urban Forest
  • Module 2: Tree Growth and Development
  • Module 3: Urban Soils
  • Module 4: Site, Tree Selection, and Planting
  • Module 5: Arboriculture
  • Module 6: Assessing and Managing Tree Risk
  • Module 7: Tree Disorder, Diagnosis, and Management
  • Module 8: Trees and Construction
  • Module 9: Public Policy and Urban Forestry
  • Module 10: Urban Forest Management
eLearn Urban Forestry EMG

eLearn Urban Forestry for Extension Master Gardener through eXtension

How To Enroll in eLearn Urban Forestry for Extension Master Gardeners

1)Visit the eXtension website, http://campus.extension.org

2) Set up an eXtension Campus (Moodle) account:

  • “Create an account” link (top, left side of the page) via the secure connection.
  • Once you have that account created, you will receive an e-mail with a confirmation and a password. Follow the instructions in the email to complete your account set-up.
  • Remember your login and password so you can access this or other future courses.
Create an eXtension Campus Account

Create an eXtension Campus Account (click to enlarge image)

3)Login to the course

  • After you create an account, log into eXtension Campus (Moodle) ( http://campus.extension.org/ ) . Find the log in entry at the top, left side of page, where you first created the account.
  • Scroll through the available course categories and select Master Gardener (under Yard and Garden).
Find eLearn Urban Forestry for Extension Master Gardeners under 'Yard and Garden'

Find eLearn Urban Forestry for Extension Master Gardeners under ‘Yard and Garden’ (click to enlarge image)

4) View the course and get started

For more information, see: http://www.extension.org/pages/67932/elearn-urban-forestry:-online-training-in-urban-forestry

Here’s Why Trees

Friday, April 26th, 2013

It’s Arbor Day for much of the country.  People across the nation will be planting trees.  But have you ever really considered why we plant trees?  Most of us who will plant trees either today or sometime during the year are not major forest landowners planting trees as part of our business plan.

Most folks are like me and probably you.  Ordinary folks plant trees for lots of reasons.  Some are practical to provide shade on hot summer days, and others are less vital reasons, such as to hang a swing in. One critical reason to plant trees around homes is that it can reduce energy consumption.  Research shows that mature trees shading a house can reduce energy consumption for air conditioning by more than 50 percent.  Trees in the home landscape provide other important benefits including controlling erosion and reducing stormwater runoff.

Why Trees video by Alabama Cooperative Extension

‘Why Trees ?’ video encourages more homeowners to consider planting trees.

encourages homeowners and cities to consider planting more trees.

But that’s at the individual level.  What about why should cities plant trees? It’s a question that city governments struggle to answer during tough economic times. Planting trees is an important consideration for many communities. Tree planting and maintenance budgets are often the first to go in tough economic times, and advocates for trees need sound arguments to convince elected officials.

Why Trees Video

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System tackled this question in its “Why Trees?” video. The video, available on YouTube, encourages homeowners and cities to consider planting more trees.  Two Extension forestry professionals did the research and crafted the script behind the video.

This video, using free-hand drawing and time-lapse video, is commonly referred to as a lecture doodle. It is both fun and engaging with a goal of educating and promoting advocacy for planting trees. It is an excellent educational tool for events as diverse a town-hall meeting, a Master Gardener meeting or a school classroom.

The video provides an understanding of the benefits urban trees provide to the economy, the environment and society.  Some research indicates that communities with shaded streets and parks have a stronger sense of community than cities with fewer trees. Other studies point towards lower crimes rates as urban forest canopies and maintained landscapes increase.

Economically, shops located around mature trees have shown a 12 percent increase in sales. Shoppers perceive these shops as having better merchandise and will travel larger distances to visit these businesses. In addition, homes with mature trees in the front lawn increase property values by as much as 20 percent. That’s right, healthy mature trees can add value to your home and residential property.

However, there are more than societal and economic benefits. Trees in urban landscapes have been found to lower incidences of asthma, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and shorten hospitals stays. Basically, as urban forest canopies increase so does people’s health and well-being.

The “Why Trees?” video provides an excellent synopsis of the benefits of urban trees. So the questions should not be “Why Trees?” but rather “Why Not More Trees?”.  Perhaps, it’s a conversation Master Gardeners can lead in their communities.

To watch “Why Trees?” check out this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=74063UKSmXw

By: Maggie Lawrence and Beau Brodbeck with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System

Online IPM Modules for Master Gardeners- A New Educational Tool

Friday, March 15th, 2013
Basil plant heavily infected with basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt, University of Maine, Bugwood.org)

Basil plant heavily infected with
basil downy mildew (Picture by Bruce Watt,
University of Maine, Bugwood.org)

Need to brush up on your pests to answer client garden questions?

Learn about newly emerging or persistent plant diseases and insect problems in the home landscape with the NEW University of Illinois Extension Online IPM modules. These modules are designed for Extension Master Gardeners but can be used by home gardeners and green industry professionals.

Eight Self-paced Online IPM Modules

Eight online IPM modules are currently available, covering landscape pest and problems such as:

  • Brown Marmorated Stink Bug
  • Thousand Canker Disease
  • Spruce Problems
  • Downy Mildew on Impatiens,  and more.
  • Bacterial Leaf Scorch
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bur Oak Blight

Module Quick-Facts

Each module is self-paced and contains information and pictures about the pest or pathogen, host plants, symptoms, diagnosis, management and much more. Here we answer a few common questions you may have:

  • Can I earn continuing ed (CE) credits for each module? Each module provides about  1/2  hour of continuing education for Illinois Master Gardeners.
  • Will the CE credit apply in my state? Check with your local coordinator to be sure these modules fulfill the educational requirements in your county and state. (As mentioned, the modules are also a great resource to answer client questions in the office.)
  • How will I get a certificate of completion? After completion of the module content, a short quiz should be completed. Participants must receive a perfect score on the quiz before completing a brief evaluation and then printing a certificate of completion.
  • Is there a charge? The course is free of charge, but participants must register and create a login and password.

The modules were written by University of Illinois plant pathologists and entomologists and more modules are currently under construction. Evaluations show that Master Gardeners value this new easy tool for completing educational hours while staying abreast of current landscape pests and pathogens.

Want to see what a module looks like? View the brown marmorated stink bug example below or directly access these Online IPM modules at  http://mg.cropsci.illinois.edu/index.php

Example of IPM Online Module

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, University of Illinois IPM Module Example

– Monica David, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Coordinator

Nature’s Notebook and Master Gardeners: A tool for all seasons

Monday, January 14th, 2013
Sonoran Desert in August, monsoon season

Sonoran Desert in August

 

Lush green mountains and creeks filled with rushing, crashing water – not exactly what one thinks Arizona looks like.  But this is the Sonoran desert in southern Arizona in August during monsoon season.

Summer wildflowers spread cheerfully across open patches between cholla and prickly pear ripe with brilliant burgundy fruit.

Just the Beginning – Phenology Training and a Citizen Science Project

My friend Pat and I are treated to these glorious sights as we travel the rocky dirt road up to the Florida Canyon ranger station, part of the Santa Rita Experimental Range, in the Santa Rita mountains south of Tucson to do our observations for Nature’s Notebook, the citizen science program sponsored by the USA National Phenology Network.

Pat , Pima County Master Gardener Participating in Nature's Notebook

Edy, Pima County Master Gardener Participating in Nature's Notebook

Phenology  – Observing and studying plants leads to a lot more!

As part of the Master Gardener class at the Pima County Cooperative Extension though University of Arizona in the spring of 2012, LoriAnne Barnett, the Education Coordinator for the USA National Phenology Network based at the University of Arizona, taught a class on phenology.

What is phenology?

Phenology, we learned, is a branch of science that deals with the relationship between climate and periodic biological phases of flora and fauna.  Okay.  But what did that really mean to us as Master Gardeners?  To find out, Pat and I volunteered to observe and monitor four plants in the Florida Canyon of the Santa Ritas.Tucked away in this remote canyon is a ranger station where scientists from all over the country can come to conduct research.

Our work becomes part of long-term studies

At the station, LoriAnne had tagged the plants we were to watch – two velvet mesquite trees, an ocotillo, and, unbelievably, a very old lilac bush!!  This particular lilac is part of a historic long-term USDA cloned plant phenological study begun in the 1950s, which provides over 50 years of consistent data for scientists to study.  Lucky, lucky us!

Lilacs in spring 2012 - We recorded its bloom time this year.

Lilac in Winter 2013 - As part of Nature's notebook, we'll record when they first bloom again this spring.

Observing 4 plants leads to lots of new questions and beautiful scenery!

As the months have passed, we have observed the mesquite trees flower and develop pods (no pods on the small one, despite the bloom – something to wonder about) and marveled at the gorgeous color of the ocotillo flowers and the continual drop of leaves and regrowth after a monsoon storm.

Observing the flower on velvet mesquite, Prosopis veluntina, during the growing season.

Prosopis_veluntina

Velvet mesquite, Prosopis veluntina (January)

But our true joy was the heavenly scent of the lilac in bloom in the spring.  Those tiny purple flowers filled the air (and our noses!!) with their delicate fragrance as we would return again and again before reluctantly making our way back down the canyon towards home. As a Midwestern transplant trying to learn about desert flora, this activity opened my eyes to life in the desert in a way I could not have imagined.

Each week Pat and I would delight in the changes we were seeing so very up close and personal.  We also were treated to sightings of fauna that made our trek even more amazing – javalina scurrying along the dry creek bed, a bobcat strolling across our path, snakes and a frightened gila monster running for cover, deer dashing after each other in a panic as we approached, and birds.  So many birds.  Fortunately, Pat is an extraordinary birder and can identify birds by their calls, shapes, and flight patterns.  I’m in awe!  Hummingbirds abound in the canyon while red tail hawks soar over head looking for lunch.

Nature’s Notebook – An Opportunity for Master Gardener Volunteers & Science

Master Gardeners are already in tune to blooms and buds, planting times and zones, emergence and migration.  Having an opportunity to observe and record these events in a program like Nature’s Notebook helps us to remember the how and when of each season and encourages us to create our own hypotheses about what may be to come.

Our data also contributes to a valuable ongoing study about how species and ecosystems are influenced by environmental changes.  

No, this is not work.  This is pure pleasure.  Phenology, it seems, is much more than the science of the seasons. To be with a friend out in the midst of the wonderful place just to monitor and observe the flora and fauna is something I am so very happy to be able to do.

Opuntia engelmannii

Arizona poppy, Kalistoemia grandiflora

Prickly Poppy, Aremone platyceras

Participate in Nature’s Notebook Through Your Local Program

While we participated in the phenology training through our local Master Gardener chapter in Arizona, Nature’s Notebook is a national program. Master Gardener chapters around the country are adding phenology to their list of volunteer projects so check with your local coordinator to find out if your state is participating.

If not, encourage your chapter members to join in tracking phenological changes. You will find all of the resources you need to get started on the USA-NPN website: http://www.usanpn.org/participate. For information about how you can be involved with Nature’s Notebook, or how to add it to a Master Gardener training course, contact LoriAnne Barnett at lorianne@usanpn.org.

-Submitted by

Edy Alderson, Pima County Cooperative Extension, Green Valley Master Gardener Chapter volunteer
Pima County Master Gardeners on Facebook
Pima County Extension on Facebook

LoriAnne Barnett
Education Coordinator | USA National Phenology Network

EMG Blog Learning Notes – Recapping December 2012

Monday, January 7th, 2013

This month was a festive month on the Extension Master Gardener blog.

Getting Caught Up in the Season

Winter Imagination

Winter Imagination Collage

Our EMG Bloggers enthusiastically explored the winter and holiday spirit through many blog posts. Here is what we covered this month.

Favorite Plants and Scenes:

  • Conifers, Which is Your Favorite?  We tried a new crowd sourcing experiment this month.  After Foy shared some interesting conifers (my favorite was ‘Pusch’ spruce), she added a ‘Linky Lists’ link to the bottom of her post so readers could submit a link with a thumbnail image to a webpage on their favorite conifer(s).  The ‘Linky List’ was available to contribute to for about a week, so if you were busy celebrating the holidays you might have missed it.  I gave it a test and linked to my photos of dwarf evergreens from the U of MN Landscape Arboretum.  One other person contributed a favorite conifer,  ‘Whipcord’. You can check the images and links out at the bottom of the post, and look for future blog posts using the ‘Linky List’ tool.

Christmas Cheer Rhododendron

Wordless Wednesday Wreaths

Wordless Wednesday Regional Wreaths

Online Learning and Resources

In the past few months, we’ve tried to maintain a list of online learning opportunities that Extension Master Gardeners or other avid gardeners might like to take or view.  This month’s list includes links to blogs and webinars.

  • Garden Professors Blog Invitation: Spreading the Word About Research-based Gardening Information. This month, “Garden Professor” Jeff Gillman specifically invited Extension Master Gardeners to view and discuss horticulture topics of  interest through the Garden Professors blog and Facebook page.  This invitation also goes out to agents, educators, gardeners, and green industry members, as well, since multiple perspectives and questions stimulate more dialogue and opportunities to learn.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture People’s Garden Fall 2012 Webinar Series Recordings.  As mentioned in last month’s update, you can now view speakers talking about hot topics and titles such as seed saving, engaging volunteers in the garden, going native, composting and compost use,  and best practices in starting and sustaining a school garden.
  • How Much Does a Vegetable Garden Cost/Save? From Gail Langellotto’s (State Coordinator of the OSU Extension Master Gardener program) blog, this post was widely shared on our Facebook page. As becomes apparent when reading the post,  different gardens have different costs associated with them.  Sylvia, from New Mexico, drove this point home on our Facebook page, as she stated:  “My highest cost, is water, water, water, I try to offset it by collecting rain water, when we get rain.”

Next Month?

Stay tuned for more January posts.….And please let us know (either in the comments section or by email: emg@extension.org) if you or your EMG program have a story, learning experience,  or opportunity to share with other Extension Master Gardeners,  or simply join us at:

Extension Master Gardener Blog: http://blogs.extension.org/mastergardener/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/extensionmastergardener
Twitter: 
https://twitter.com/eXEMG

-Karen Jeannette
eXtension Consumer Horticulture Coordinator

-Editorial Reviewer
Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Garden Professors Blog Invitation: Spreading the Word About Research-Based Gardening Information

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Having had the opportunity to meet many of you when I give talks or conduct demonstrations, I know how passionate master gardeners are about spreading research-based information. With that in mind we’re asking you to help us spread the word about the Garden Professors blog and the new Garden Professors Facebook page we are putting together.

Our group includes Linda Chalker-Scott from Washington State, Holly Scoggins, from Virginia Tech, Bert Cregg, from Michigan State, and myself, Jeff Gillman from University of Minnesota. You can read more about how the Garden Professors blog got started  in our eXtension feature article

Our goal is to engage the public around research-based gardening and horticulture

We cover topics from new trends, flowers, trees (and tree care), while also debating hot issues such as compost tea, using native vs. exotic plants in the landscape, or GMOs.  While there are many differences in gardening across the U.S or even internationally, we find there is a lot of common ground (sometimes even literally) that science can help us understand about how to grow plants.

For example, did you know that adding gravel to the bottom of your containers does NOT improve drainage?

 

Garden Professors Facebook Page

Adding Gravel to Increase the Drainage? Not so, says the Garden Professors Facebook Page

 

Adding to the Facebook page example above, here are just a few examples of topics we’ve covered on our blog this week:

And in the future you can look to see more current events, issues,  and questions addressed, aimed at keeping you up-to-date with reliable, research based gardening information.

Please stop by our blog or our Facebook page (where we think the comments are just as fun to read as the posts)….And let us know, what questions do you have about gardening that you’d like to see discussed on the Garden Professors blog?

Jeff Gillman
Associate Professor
Department of Horticultural Science
University of Minnesota

Intro to Houseplants Online Course Starts in January 2013

Friday, November 16th, 2012

 

 

Flickr_

Houseplants (Source: Flickr, FD Richards)

Iowa State University is offering an eight week online course called Introduction to Houseplants, starting in January 2012!

While winter is waging in the northern half of the United States, you could be inside learning more about lush and tropical houseplants. While this course is aimed at houseplant beginners, even if you are accomplished in the arts of indoor plant care, you may be interested in this class.

What will Intro to Houseplants cover and can I get continuing education credits?

This course is especially ideal for Extension Master Gardeners (or EMGs) because most states will accept this training for your continuing education credits (check with your coordinator to be sure). Most states offer up to three hours of training related to houseplants in their core training.

This class will discuss the science of houseplants for eight hours in addition to the class activities, specifically we’ll focus on:

  • irrigation
  • substrates
  • light
  • fertility
  • temperature and humidity
  • common houseplant problems
  • houseplant propagation
  • houseplant identification.

One example of an activity will include a plant propagation project after the propagation lecture. You will learn about the techniques and then do it yourself!

Interaction with instructor and other students across the U.S!

Introductions to houseplants will be delivered via Blackboard Learn, an online training program that can be accessed anywhere you have internet. Class discussions and at home activities will round out the lecture and video instruction portion of the course.

Intro to Houseplants

Intro to Houseplants (click to enlarge image)

Students will also have an opportunity to interact with each other from all across the United States. One of the first assignments is to post a picture of you with one of your houseplants (one can even be borrowed, if need be). Then you would describe the plant including its common and scientific names as well as an unusual or interesting fact about the plant. Other students in the class can add tidbits of information that they know about the plant too.

As the instructor, I will be available to answer any additional questions – publicly, via discussion threads, or individually.

Having worked with EMGs at both the county and state levels, I especially welcome interaction with enthusiastic volunteers. This course can also go towards an online degree, depending on your goals.

For more information regarding Introduction to Houseplants through Iowa State University, see http://www.agde.iastate.edu/course/viewCourse.php?courseID=S2013HORT+193AXW.

{UPDATE since the original blog posting: If you are an Extension Master Gardener, you may take the course for non-credit for $150.00.  For non-credit registration, go to this link: https://www.ucs.iastate.edu/mnet/hort193a/quickregister.html

If you need more information or if you would like to know how to apply for credit, contact lyoung@iastate.edu}

You will find the relevant registration details and course fee information on that page. Depending on your avenue of taking the course, Iowa State University tuition charges may apply.

Master Gardeners Report on Pesky Nuisance Bugs in Home and Buildings This Fall

Friday, November 2nd, 2012

 

This month, on our Extension Master Gardener Facebook page, we asked Master Gardeners to report on any “nuisance bugs” that they had seen (or not seen as much of) in their region of the United States this fall.  Below is what we heard from them, along with resources to learn more about these pesky insects.

Stink Bugs – Brown Marmorated and Kudzu Bugs

Stink bugs are just that – stinky if handled, provoked, or squashed.  And the Kudzu bug (a type of stink bug) can stain your clothes if you squish it…so be aware: these guys are not just a nuisance, they can, as the name implies, be a smelly nuisance —  especially if they get in your home during fall months. While these two particular stink bugs are also considered invasive and cause economic damage to some crops, for the purpose of the blog post, we are focusing on their pesky nuisance qualities.

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home

Kudzu bug infestation on outside of home (Photo credit: Daniel R. Suiter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org)

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (Photo credit: Natasha Wright, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bugwood.org)

Hearing about Kudzu bug in Alabama and Other Southeastern States

Maggie Lawrence, inspired this blog post, as she alerted us that Kudzu bug infestations warranted a Wordless Wednesday post and followup post by  Dr. Xing Ping Hu on Kudzu Bugs: Annoying Smelly Pest. These articles alerted Alabama (and other southeastern) homeowners to the Kudzu bug problem this fall and how (or how not) to treat it.

Upon some more inquiry, colleagues at the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health (Bugwood Network), University of Georgia, also pointed us to the Kudzu bug.org website which provides information about its’ increasing numbers and distribution across seven southeastern states to date. It  also provides information about how to identify Kudzu bug and report its presence.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB)

Jacki from Oregon reported about brown marmorated stink bug:

In the Portland, Oregon area, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), Halyomorpha halys, is increasing even though it arrived fairly recently. I found them massed in a clematis, and a few sheltered in a folded deck umbrella.

Do you have brown marmorated stink bug near you? Since 2009, when it was first detected in Pennsylvania, it has been mapped to many states across the U.S as being detected, a nuisance, or a serious agriculture pest.

If you or someone you know is dealing with the presence of stink bug as a nuisance pest near or around the home, find out how to best deal with them in this quick (and interesting) video: Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control: Keeping Stink Bugs out of your House (University of Maryland Extension).

Box Elder Bugs

In fall, it seems there are always inquiring minds somewhere that want to know about the red and black bugs that appear in large masses outside of the home, sun bathing on warm concrete walls.  On our Facebook page, Linell reported a box elder bug sighting:

“Box elder bugs in eastern NE [are] liking the outdoor sunny warm walls on the garage and stone house, but [I am seeing] much fewer in numbers so far this year (drought?) and not a problem for me at all.”
Box elder bugs

Box elder bugs (Photo credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org)

On the contrary, this month’s article on box elder bugs in the UMN Extension Yard and Garden News discusses numbers in Minnesota are up!
Whether your numbers are up or down this year, if you answer gardening questions in a state that has had box elder bugs in the past, you will likely need to answer questions about box elder bugs once again. If this is the case, there are many states Extension offices with box elder bug information. Here are a few to peruse:  Minnesota, CaliforniaColorado, and Pennsylvania.

Asian Lady Beetles

Krista from North Carolina said,

Lady Bugs!!! This past Monday, [we had] a swarm of them all over my house and a lot of them got inside. I truly dread when they are let loose.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern.

Multicolored Asian lady beetle. Photo showing variation in color pattern. (Photo credit: Bill Ree, Texas A&M University, Bugwood.org)

As mentioned in this excerpt from Muticolord Asian Lady Beetles from Ohio State University:

Multicolored Asian lady beetles do not carry disease organisms. They do not eat wood, building materials, or human food. In fact, multicolored Asian lady beetles do not consume food while overwintering, but instead rely on their stores of body fat. Otherwise, they eat aphids and other soft-bodied insects.

Regardless of what they eat, if they enter your home in large numbers it can still be annoying.  There are a few (really quite of few) fact sheets from state Extension services across the U.S.  Here is a quick sampling, if you’d like to find one closest to home:FloridaKentucky, MinnesotaMissouriOhioPennsylvania,  Clemson (South Carolina), Oregon

Centipedes!

Last but not least, we can’t forget to report on the common desert centipede!

Sylvia Hacker from New Mexico says:

We get calls about centipedes but not as many as one might expect. They are territorial so you don’t usually find very many in one spot. Centipedes are very good at hiding, most people probably aren’t aware they’ve moved in.  We caution folks not to walk around their house at night barefoot and in the dark this time of year.  Centipedes really resent being stepped on! This fact sheet on Common desert centipede can be helpful for knowing more about centipedes.

Common Desert Centipede

Common Desert Centipede (Photo credit: Sylvia Hacker, Doña Ana Co. Master Gardener)

A Few More Thoughts on Nuisance Bugs

As many of the resource above state, nuisance bugs can become less of a nuisance or problem by preventing their entry into homes and buildings in fall.

Taking simple steps like turning off outdoor lights near home entry points so, for example, brown marmorated stink bugs don’t aggregate in large numbers by a door, can help reduce their entry into homes.

In most of these cases of nuisance bugs, preventing their entry by sealing up some holes and cracks around doors, windows, and siding with caulk can go a long way in preventing extra bugs from finding their way into the home.  Or, in the case of common desert centipede, simply wearing shoes while walking outside at night, and Sylvia suggests,  can be a helpful precaution in avoiding unpleasant encounters.

How about you? Do you have thoughts on nuisance bugs? What questions do you commonly answer about pesky bugs that want to come indoors in the fall?

-Karen Jeannette
Consumer Horticulture Content Coordinator

-Linda Brandon, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator
NC Cooperative Extension/Guilford County Center

Advice for Keeping Trees and Shrubs Healthy in Drought and Heat

Friday, September 21st, 2012

The summer of 2012 has proven to be a tough one when it comes to weather. Most of the country has been abnormally dry, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The NOAA National Climatic Data Center also reports that 55% of the country is in at least a moderate short-term drought, with 39% of the country in a severe to extreme drought. It also turns out that this summer is the third hottest on record since record-keeping began in 1895. You can see that it has been a hard season without even mentioning hurricane Isaac and the Derecho storm that left a 700 mile path of destruction across the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

http://www.fotopedia.com/items/moonrisings-Zk2R1-pgAjw

Leaf showing response to drought.

Detecting Drought Damage To Limit Stress

We often easily see the damage caused to trees, shrubs, and other plants after a storm. But the damage caused by drought and heat can be just as damaging as storm damage, and often, the damage is already done before symptoms can appear.

Damages from drought and heat go hand in hand; when paired together, the combination can cause even more intense injury. Newly planted trees (less than three years) are most susceptible to drought and heat damage, but even established trees can succumb to their effects.

It is important to catch symptoms early to limit the damage done by these stresses. It is also important to return trees to good health ASAP and prepare appropriately to avoid winter damage in areas where that is a concern.

That is why this year, Extension Agents and Master Gardeners here in West Virginia were on the lookout for trees and shrubs suffering from drought stress, something most homeowners don’t often associate with their trees’ poor health.  An early dry period in March, coupled with summer heat and drought, set the stage for a multitude of concerned homeowners.

Looking for Symptoms of Heat and Drought Stress

As we helped people limit the damage to trees and shrubs by drought stress this summer, we encouraged them to look for:

  • Wilt: The earliest symptom of stress in plants is leaf wilting due to the loss of turgor pressure.
  • Shorter than normal twig growth: Shorter than normal twig growth, small leaves, and overall poor growth can result from drought and heat stress.
  • Plants that shed leaves early: Plants will shed leaves early to reduce surface area to reduce areas that can lose water. Some trees, such as yellow poplar and sycamore, respond to drought through abscission, where leaves change color then fall during the summer. In severe or rapid-onset droughts, leaves may fall while still green. Other trees, such as dogwood, will cope with a process called senescence in which leaves wilt, die, and then fall.

Unfortunately, severe and prolonged drought or heat can cause long term damage or even death in trees in plants. Even moderate stress can reduce growth and make plants more susceptible to pests and diseases. That is why it is important to identify the symptoms and treat them appropriately – because sometimes just adding water to a drought-stressed tree is the best medicine.

Advising what to do (or not do) for drought-stressed plants

We cannot control the amount of water that falls from the sky, so we often offer the following advice:

1) Be on the lookout for early symptoms of drought stress, such as those mentioned above.

2) If damage is light to moderate, simply watering your trees and shrubs can bring them back to health. If drought has been prolonged, a longer watering regimen may be required. However, recovery may be slow, even when sufficient water is restored. Large trees may take an especially long time to recover, as water will need to make it from the roots to the tips of the branches and all the spaces in between.

3) If heat stress is also an issue, we advise people not to fertilize trees until stress is alleviated. Processing nitrogen requires the plants’ use of stored food energy, which is problematic when respiration is abnormally high and nutrient transport is low. Salt-based fertilizers can also cause root damage when soil moisture is limited.

4) Consider drought-tolerant trees when making your next landscape selection.  We shared this drought tolerant tree list from the University of Tennessee with people who were hoping to make their next landscape selection.

So tell us….

Have you experienced drought or excessive heat this year or in the past few years? If so, how did you deal with drought and heat in your garden?

If you’re an Extension Agent or Master Gardener, tell us what kind of advice or resources you used to help people cope with drought in their landscape?

by John Porter
WVU Extension Service Agriculture Extension Agent
Charleston, WV