The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

August 26, 2011

Fall Webworms

Filed under: Insects,Trees — bob @ 12:45 pm

Fall webworms are back.  They are really becoming more apparent as they grow and their webs get larger.

Fall webworms nests start to become apparent in late summer.

This is not the same caterpillar we saw in the spring; those were the Eastern Tent caterpillar.

Because fall webworms emerge in late summer, they don’t have a chance to do much damage to trees but their webs sure are ugly.

Fall webworms feed on a wide variety of trees. In our area this summer, I’ve been seeing them on walnuts, oaks, mulberries, cherries and other trees.

There are a couple of options available for controlling these pests.  The simplest method is to manually pull the webs down and destroy them.  For those you can’t reach, use a chemical pesticide sprayed up onto the web.  You don’t need much because they are easily killed by most chemical insecticides.

Some people recommend spraying the biological insecticide Bt. Bt works best when the worm are small.

Try to resist the urge to burn the webs in place on the tree.  You’ll end up scorching twig bark causing more damage to the tree than the webworms.

Paper wasps are a natural enemy of the fall webworm. If a paper wasp nest is located in a place on your property where they aren’t disturbing anyone, think about leaving them there to help control the webworms.


August 18, 2011

Bee Balm

Filed under: Bees,Flowers — bob @ 12:44 pm

While walking past a clump of Monarda the other day, I noticed the plants were humming with insects.  Even though the flowers were past peak blooming, all sorts of bees were buzzing around.

About half the blooms are left on this stand of Monarda and there are still plenty of bees visiting it.

I took a minute or so to look at the insects and counted at least a half dozen different species of the bee family. There were honeybees, paper wasps and some kind of bumblebee; those were easy to spot. Looking closer I could see other species of smaller bees that I was not able to identify.  It’s no wonder Monarda is called Bee Balm.  Butterflies and hummingbirds like Monarda too.

Bee Balm is a native plant that has found a place in the garden.  Normally, in the wild, it grows in damp areas.  In the garden, it grows fine in a flowerbed; you just need to give it a little extra water during dry spells. If you have a wet area that gives you problems, Monarda is a good solution.

Even though Monarda is a perennial, it is best to wait until spring before dividing and moving a clump to your garden. Fall planted Monarda will often winterkill.  I have grown it from seed; it is fairly easy to start and is a cheap way to get a lot of plants.

It grows to a height of three or four feet, has red, pink or purple flowers depending on the variety, and takes care of itself once it is established.

Monarda is also used as an herb.  In the herb garden, it is known by its other two names Bergamot and Oswego Tea.

Planting Monarda is an easy way to add color to your garden while helping our local honeybees and other pollinators.

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