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Bothersome Boxelder Bugs

It’s the time of year for boxelder bugs! Great information from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension Educator in the following post.

Husker Hort

Boxelder bugs gathered together on a home's foundation. Boxelder bugs gathered together on a home’s foundation.

Daylight Savings time is ending and it is time to ‘fall back’ once again. Fall brings about cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and boxelder bugs by the millions. Find out what you can do to help keep these pests from invading your home.

Depending on where you grew up, the boxelder bug can have many names. Some of the more common ones include; maple bug, democrat bug, populist bug, and politician bug. Regardless of what you call them, they are annoying to say the least. The boxelder bug gets one of its common names from its primary host plant, the female boxelder tree. They can also be found on ash, and maple, and occasionally feeding on strawberries, grasses and other plants. The adults are ½ inch long red with black coloration under their wings. This time of the year they begin to cover…

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Fall Invaders

Great information from Elizabeth Killinger, UNL Extension, regarding keeping fall invaders out of our homes!

Husker Hort

Warm days and cool nights signal that fall is here.  The pumpkins are ready to be picked, the leaves will soon be in full color display and the wolf spiders and crickets will start migrating into the home.  Not exactly what you had in mind for a peaceful fall?  Find out how to start preparing now to keep these invaders from making themselves at home in your home.

When the temperatures start dipping, the pests start coming in.  Nobody really wants to spend the winter outdoors and insects are no different.  Some of the more common nuisance pests, or occasional invaders, include boxelder bugs, multicolored Asian Lady Beetles, millipedes, and crickets.  These pests don’t do any harm inside the home; they are just looking for a cozy place to spend the winter.

Proper identification of the insect will assure the proper control method.  Boxelder bugs are black and orange true…

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Grubs in Lawns!

The past week walking along the sidewalk to my office in the courthouse, I noticed the lawn browning and just thought “it must be late summer patch or brown patch”.  One day the custodian came into my office saying, “You’ve got to see this!”.

So we went outside and sure enough, we could roll the turf back like a carpet and there were up to 10 grubs in a small patch the size of a dinner plate in several areas of the lawn!  We definitely had a grub problem but no fear as it can be resolved.

If you are seeing brown patches in your turf right now, see if you can roll the turf back like a carpet.  If it comes easily with no attached roots, it very well may be a grub problem.  See if you can view any grubs present; you may have to dig in the soil a little.

What you can do:

Grubs can be controlled this time of year with Trichlorfon (Dylox)  and carbaryl (Sevin).  Please read and follow label directions.  Watering the products in will increase efficacy and help grass roots begin to re-establish.  

If you had a large patch affected and you’re concerned about it coming back, you can always power-rake to remove the dead material and overseed to re-establish grass in that area.

For more information on different types of grubs, please see the following Blog post by my colleague Elizabeth Killinger.

The Season for #ag & #horticulture Questions!

This past week was a blur of calls, questions, and visits to homes and fields but it was a great week and flew by staying very busy!  I’ll touch on a few of the common questions I’ve received this week.

Trees:  Some trees such as willows, hackberries, tops of maple trees, ash, and black walnut are just taking time leafing out.  Some trees leafed out once already and dropped leaves.  Things that may have caused this were the sudden flux of temperatures from very warm to cool and the strong winds we received.  Some trees have also unfortunately had herbicide drift damage that caused leaves to drop.  On those trees, watch for new buds as nearly every situation I’ve looked at thus far have new buds forming after about a week-10 days.  With all these situations, give the trees a few weeks to leaf out again and if they’re still not doing it, feel free to give me a call.  Trees are interesting plants as sometimes environmental impacts that happened 3-5 years ago will show up that much later-and sometimes environmental impacts show up right away!

Disease/Insect issues:  This year has been a strange year all around but with our warm winter, I was concerned about an increase in diseases and insects.  Thus far, we’re experiencing increases in both-so hang on-it may be a long growing season!  Our high humidity, warm temps, and heavy dews have created perfect conditions for fungal diseases on our trees, ornamental plants, lawns (I’m currently fighting a bad case of powdery mildew-as a plant pathologist it is kind of pretty but I don’t like what it’s doing to my lawn!), and in our wheat and alfalfa crops and some pasture grasses.  Fungicides may help in some of these situations, increasing airflow can also help as can more resistant varieties or hoping the weather will change.  In the case of most ornamentals, we don’t usually recommend doing anything.  The same goes for insects as insecticides can help in some situations.  I’ve received several calls this past week of people afraid they had herbicide drift damage.  While there were a few cases of that, many of the cases were actually fungal leaf spots on leaves.  There are various fungicides and insecticide products available from home/garden centers, etc.  Be sure to read and follow all label directions and only apply the product on places the label specifies it can be applied.

Crops Update: Later this week we may have a better idea on the extent of storm damage and if some fields will need to be replanted after the storms from last week.  Dr. Bob Nielsen from Purdue University reported that most agronomists believe young corn can survive up to about four days of ponding if temperatures are relatively cool (mid-60’s F or cooler); fewer days if temperatures are warm (mid-70’s F or warmer).  Soil oxygen is depleted within about 48 hours of saturation and we know soil oxygen is important for the root system and all the plant’s life functions.   So we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Have also had a few calls regarding rye cover crops.  When rye is killed out and decomposing, it releases toxins that can affect the germination of other cereal crops such as corn if it’s going to be planted into that rye cover crop.  Thus we recommend at UNL that the producer kill the rye and then wait at least two weeks to prevent any major damage to the crop.  I realize at this point with the rains to get in and kill that crop on top of waiting an additional two weeks, we’re getting close to the end of the month and will most likely be looking at reduced yields…and depending on maturity, you may need to consider different seed if you end up having to plant in June.  If you have specific questions about this, please let me know and we can talk through some situations.

Stripe rust and powdery mildew have been obliterating mid-lower canopies of many wheat fields.  I’ve received several calls on why wheat canopies are yellow-that’s the main reason but other factors such as the dry spell prior to these rains and/or deficiencies in nitrogen/sulfur or some viruses may also have been factors.  Wheat in Nuckolls County last week was beginning to flower.  Fungicides such as Prosaro, Folicur, or Proline are labeled for up to 50% flowering and cannot be applied after that.  Remember the wheat head begins pollination in the middle-so if you’re seeing little yellow anthers at the top or bottom of that head, you’re towards the end of flowering.  All those products have a 30 day pre-harvest interval-which has been the other main question-are we going to be harvesting in a month?  I do believe we’ll be harvesting a month earlier than normal just because pretty much everything in wheat development is about a month ahead of schedule.  I still feel the 30 day window for the fungicide application is worth it with the large amount of disease pressure we’ve seen. Wheat in Clay Co.  and north still may have time for a fungicide application; those products mentioned above will help prevent Fusarium Head Blight (scab) as well as kill the fungi causing disease already present on your leaves.  A list of all fungicide products, pre-harvest restrictions, and rates can be found here. Also check out my previous blog post with video on scouting for wheat diseases.  

The other major disease appearing in wheat is barley yellow dwarf virus.  This is a virus vectored by bird cherry oat aphids which we were seeing earlier this year.  Unfortunately, this disease causes the flag leaves to turn bright yellow-purple causing yield loss (at least 80% of the yield comes from the flag leaf) as there’s nothing you can do once the virus manifests itself in those leaves.  If you have a large incidence of barley yellow dwarf in your fields, you may wish to reconsider spraying a fungicide as the fungicide won’t kill the virus; however, it will help kill the fungi on the remainder of your leaves and potentially help protect some yield from the two leaves below the flag leaf.

Spring Miller Moths!

They’re everywhere!  Finding ways to get inside homes, lining the sides of houses, and swarming around lights at night.  TheMiller moths number one question last week from farmers, crop consultants, and home-owners was “what are the millers/moths flying around?”  They are mostly army cutworm moths that are on their annual migration from the south.  Usually they arrive in our area in May but everything this year seems to be about 2.5 weeks ahead of schedule.  They can stay in the area for 2-3 weeks or as long as 6 weeks if cool, wet conditions occur.  Hot, dry conditions will move them out of the area.  While a nuisance, they are mostly a pest in wheat and alfalfa-so farmers with these crops need to be scouting.  In alfalfa, we’re close enough to first cutting that I don’t anticipate needing an insecticide for it, but I do encourage you to watch regrowth for the second cutting as the larvae may be feeding by then.  Since we’re not cutting wheat, be scouting it to ensure larvae aren’t causing significant damage.  We may need to consider an insecticide treatment with fungicides this year in wheat when trying to protect the flag leaf.  Some have been concerned that these are black cutworm moths and have been applying ½ rates of insecticides during corn planting.  We don’t recommend this at UNL as these are army cutworm moths and don’t anticipate a problem to our corn crop from them.  We recommend scouting once corn has emerged as it’s a better integrated pest management (IPM) strategy and saves you money not to needlessly apply insecticides on broad acres when black cutworm problems are typically patchy within certain fields every year.

For homeowners, if you have shrubs or bushy plants around your homes, you may notice more of these millers as they reside in these types of areas.  There’s no chemical for controlling them.  Some things you can do are change your outside lights from white to yellow and keep outside lighting to a minimum.  Also caulking can help.  Ultimately, they’re a short term nuisance and more information about their life cycle and management from Dr. Bob Wright, UNL Extension Entomologist, can be found at our UNL CropWatch Web site.  

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