If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos .      -      E.O. Wilson

SLF update

Well, we are all in for it now. The Spotted Lanternfly adults that we did not kill last fall, and the egg cases that we did not spot and scrape off trees, cars, fences, etc., over the winter, have now produced a new generation of spotted lanternflies. I noticed the tiny black and white spotted nymphs on a rose bush in late June. By July they were visible as half inch hoppers on magnolia leaves as well. By now a reddish color, they will soon become colorful, butterfly-like adults. There are several potential weapons to use against these tree and crop killers, but none are commercially available yet. So, squash any lanernflies that you can. Wrap sticky tape around invaded tree trunks and branches as we did with EAB a few years ago. Consult with your certified arborist if you find them in significant numbers on your trees. Remember they love Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), a weedy tree along roadsides that sneaks into residential landscapes. They also go after lots of kinds of trees, plus crops like grapes and hops. (Needless to say wine and beer drinkers are extremely interested in whacking these hoppers!)

 Things I’ve learned

When the electricity goes off suddenly after dark, and lights go out, I just step outdoors and pull out one or two of the glowing solar lights that we have stuck in the ground along outdoor walkways. I position them indoors where I need light and they will provide reliable light for hours.

The best way to keep track of yard care tools is to paint their wooden handles a bright neon color or wrap metal handles with neon colored tape. They are much more visible if they are lying in leaf or weed piles or in planted beds.

Check your blood type. Apparently, people with Type O blood are favorites of mosquitoes.

If your power lawnmower blows grass/weed clippings out the side as you mow along the edges of planted areas, weed problems are likely to develop in those areas in a few weeks.

Migrating birds much prefer the berries of our native plants to energize them on their long flights to their winter homes. It seems that native fruits ripen earlier in the fall and are more nutritious than those of introduced plants that are often invasive. Some native favorites for your yard: highbush blueberry, serviceberry, native viburnum, dogwood, Washington hawthorn, Holly, Eastern red cedar.

Snags/ghost trees

Cutting down a very mature tree just because it shows signs of age and decline can be a huge mistake. If it is not located where it may harm buildings and passersby if it should shed branches or fall over, let it stay in your yard.  It is a gold mine of support for wildlife, especially birds. Even dead trees, called snags, provide critical environmental services. Wildlife of all kinds depend on their crags and hollows, rotted wood and deep cavities to survive. Owls, tree frogs, squirrels, wild bees and some songbirds nest in these decrepit trees. Woodpeckers and other birds love the insects that they host, numerous other critters depend on the acorns, seeds, fruit and sap that these dear old trees produce. Birds of prey love to sit on their branches and look out for the mice, chipmunks, rabbits and other critters that visit our yards. Because we are losing these essential trees, we are losing our wildlife.

©2020 Liz Ball


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