Category Archives: Insects, Diseases and Other Pests

June Gardening Notes

Spring is holding on with relatively mild temperatures and abundant rainfall. Of course, Texas summer time conditions are right around the corner with hotter and usually dryer weather. Here are some tips to help you be more successful in your June garden. Make plans to attend the free Horticulture Field Day on June 25, at the Texas A&M Agrilife Research and Extension Center in Overton, where you will get a firsthand look at the very latest plant introductions. This all-day program starts off in the morning with a… Read More →

Crape Myrtle Bark Scale’s Enemy

Parking at a local restaurant today, I noticed the blackened trunks of some topped crape myrtles – the tell-tale sign they were infested with crape myrtle bark scale. This relatively new pest to the U.S. has been rapidly spreading across the south. A horticulture friend commented he saw infested crape myrtles at the new mall on the south side of town. I checked them out, and while the trunks were blackened, there was no sign of living scale. These scales are bright white, and when squished, they ooze… Read More →

January Gardening Tips

Let me join the chorus to wish you a Happy New Year, and a successful, bountiful and colorful gardening year! It may be cold and miserable sometimes at this time, but January is a month for some important items for the landscape and garden. Starting Transplants: If you want to grow your own transplants, start vegetable and flower seeds indoors right now for planting later this winter and early spring – broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, lettuce, parsley, petunias and begonias. Later in January start tomato, pepper and… Read More →

Avoid Introducing Nematodes to Potted Plants

While planting pansies and some other cool season annuals in pots, planters and in flower beds recently, I was reminded about nematodes. If you are unfamiliar with nematodes, they are microscopic roundworms that live in the soil. Some nematodes are beneficial, and several are plant pests. The bad types feed on roots and other plant tissues, disrupting normal plant functions. One of the worst ones is called root-knot nematode. I first realized I had nematodes several years ago when I planted tomatoes in what I thought would be… Read More →

Put Your Garden to Bed and Get Ready for Spring

This is the time of year to put your flower and vegetable garden to bed, and start getting ready for your spring garden. Now that we’ve had some hard freezes, annual flowers and warm-season vegetables are finished and can be removed from the garden. Cut back browned tops of herbaceous perennials like salvias, phlox, lantana, cuphea, cannas, and others. Chop them up and throw them in the compost pile. I like to leave until spring the dried coneflower seedheads for finches to feed upon. Ornamental grasses can be… Read More →

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale – A New Pest on Crapemyrtles

As a follow up to last week’s post about crapemyrtles, I want to provide some details about a new pest that has recently been messing with these beautiful plants. It is called Crapemyrtle Bark Scale (CMBS), an exotic scale pest that was discovered in the U.S. only 10 years ago first in the Dallas area. It is very similar to another scale that gets on azaleas and other woody plants, but was recently determined with pretty good confidence that this scale is different and is a newly introduced… Read More →

Leafcutting Bees Make Perfect Holes

Ever wonder what makes those perfectly round holes in rose leaves?  Looks kind of like a giant hole punch.  That’s the work of a leaf cutting bee – a solitary bee that lines a hollow stem or other tube with leaf pieces for it nest. They make several chambers, each with an egg and a food supply for the developing larvae. They are also important pollinators of plants, so we should consider them a very beneficial insect, and the holey roses a decorative feature. For a more complete… Read More →

Fire Ants – Let Them Eat Bait

After the heavy rains last week, fire ant mounds began popping up again. The month of May is an ideal time to treat fire ants with a bait product before it gets hot. Baits are relatively inexpensive, require little labor to apply, and are safe for both you and the environment. The biggest drawback of baits is that they cannot be used all year round. Instead applications must be timed to periods when fire ants are actively looking for food. More on baits in a moment. The red… Read More →