How to Keep Wasps Away when Enjoying the Outdoors

How to Keep Wasps Away when Enjoying the Outdoors

When Are Wasps Most Active

In late summer and early fall, it may become necessary to control wasps (including yellow jackets) in your yard. It is good to take care of the menacing insects before finding one inside your soda can as you are about to take a sip!

In August and September, these yellow stripey bugs can become aggressive scavengers. They are especially drawn to dead animals, fallen tree fruit, and picnic food. This may threaten outdoor activities including barbecuing and gardening.

Honey Bees vs Yellow Jackets vs Wasps 

The first thing to do is correctly identify the insect you are dealing with. Wasps have a slender body, cylindrical legs, and appear to have shiny, smooth skin. Yellow jackets are a different kind of the same variety of wasp. They are typically more aggressive, though their sting hurts less. Bees are full-bodied and very hairy compared to yellow jackets. Their hind legs are flattened for collecting and transporting pollen. (Try to leave the bees alone so they can do their pollinating!)

wasp vs bee comparison chart

Courtesy of Brett Jordan on Flickr

How to Get Rid of Wasps and Yellow Jackets 

We recommend using Wasp Rescue Traps. They work like a charm for yellow jackets, wasps, and hornets (read instructions carefully when dealing with nests and insects). At our Portland garden center, we carry the traps to meet your needs, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

How to Keep Yellow Jackets Away from a Picnic

there’s nothing worse than having a beautiful picnic ruined by pesky wasps or yellow jackets

 

If you are heading to a picnic or camping trip, we have a wasp solution for you! Rescue makes a small, flat trap that is easy to pack with you. Camp dinners will be more enjoyable with one of these traps hanging from a nearby tree.

 

When Do Wasps sleep? 

wasps sleeping

Remember to be careful when dealing with stinging insects. It is best to set up traps in the evening when the temperatures cool and wasps slow down. Always read and follow instructions carefully.

How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden and Keep Them There

How to Attract Ladybugs to Your Garden and Keep Them There

Many gardeners have heard that ladybugs might be positive additions to their gardens, but may not fully understand why. Furthermore, they may even have a NEED for ladybugs, but don’t know how to attract them or keep them around once they’ve arrived. Perhaps you’ve purchased ladybugs from your local garden center, only to release them and watch them fly away somewhere else. 

This confusion leaves many gardeners with gardens full of “bad bugs” like aphids and mites, and in need of a healthy, natural solution. 

If you’re looking for a solution on how to keep aphids and mites away from your garden in a safe, natural, organic way – ladybugs are the answer. This guide will teach you how to not only attract them, but keep them there. We also discuss how to remove ladybugs once they’ve outstayed their welcome. 

 

Why You Should Want Ladybugs in Your Garden

 

 

Ladybugs for Garden Pest Control

 

Ladybugs help control insects like aphids that can damage your garden. In fact, ladybugs are one of the most effective predatory insects around – and love to make a meal out of the bad ones. In particular, aphids, mites, and scale. If you’re looking for how to get rid of aphids in a natural way, introducing ladybugs to your garden (and keeping them there) is the answer. 

Remember that good bugs are living creatures and they will want to be where they are most comfortable. The way you keep ladybugs around is simple if you know what you’re doing. Treat them right, provide them what they’re looking for, and they’ll stay on patrol guarding your plants and keeping your garden free of bad bugs for as long as you need them. 

 

How to Attract Ladybugs

 

Ladybugs are no different than other animals or insects. They’re a living thing, and like all living things, they are more likely to remain in your garden if the conditions are right to keep them happy. Be sure there is water in your garden in addition to food sources. Either turn on your sprinklers frequently, or consider having very small “bowls” of water – these could be bowl-shaped rocks that water can collect in. Don’t expect a bug to be able to get water from a bird feeder or anything significantly larger than themselves without drowning!

 

What do Ladybugs Eat? 

 

Ladybugs love to eat other insects. Their favorites just so happen to be destructive pests like aphids, mites, and scale. Besides pests, they’re also interested in nectar and pollen. So, if you can’t provide them bugs to eat, there are still ways to attract them by introducing pollen-producing plants.

 

Plants and Flowers That Attract Ladybugs

 

It is important to provide ladybugs with an alternative food source when meals of pest insects are scarce. Flowers produce nectar and pollen, which ladybugs also need to survive. Plan your garden to feed beneficial insects by choosing a variety of plants that will bloom as many months of the year as possible.

There are many plants that attract ladybugs, but some we would recommend include

1. Dandelions

dandelions-attract-ladybugs

2. Dill

dill-attracts-ladybugs

3. Garlic

garlic-attracts-ladybugs

yes, this is actually what a garlic flower looks like above the ground

4. Geraniums

geraniums-to-attract-ladybugs

5. Mint

mint-to-attract-ladybugs (1)

6. Parsley

parsley-to-attract-ladybugs

Don’t be surprised if the ladybugs leave after they have removed all your bad insects, though.

They will only stick around for as long as there is a good food source in your garden. Which brings us to our next point…

 

Make a Ladybug Feeder

 

You may be interested in keeping ladybugs around for reasons beyond pest control (maybe you just love the way they look). They are pretty cute, we wouldn’t blame you. Consider making a ladybug feeder! This will ensure they stick around your garden consistently. If and when those pesky bad bugs DO return, you’ll have security guards on call 24/7! 

 

How to Release Ladybugs

 

When you’ve brought your ladybugs back home, it is best to release them in the evening just after the sun has gone down, and just after you have watered the garden. This will help keep them in the garden, as typically they are dehydrated upon their release and won’t be able to go far. If there is water aplenty, they’ll be motivated to stick around and make themselves at home. Then, assuming they find a food source, they’ll know that this is paradise they’ve been dreaming of, and there’s no place they’d rather fly off to!

It is also better to release ladybugs in small batches all around your garden rather than in one big group; otherwise they might start fighting for territory.

 

 

 

How to Get Rid of Ladybugs

 

If you have a “ladybug problem” (if that exists), and you have a good reason for wanting them gone from your garden, it’s a matter of simply removing their food sources and they’ll soon fly away to seek a new home. To remove ladybugs from your garden, simply remove plants that create pollen from your garden, or reduce sources of water.

We always strongly advise gardeners to avoid using pesticides to remove insects. Yes, they’ll kill the ladybugs, but they’ll potentially ruin your entire little ecosystem by introducing harmful chemicals to the mix. It might be tempting to solve the problem quickly with chemicals, but for the sake of the rest of your plants, do it in a way that doesn’t harm the balance you’ve achieved. The rest of your garden will continue to flourish and thank you.

Root Weevils: How to Identify and Remove Them From Your Garden

Root Weevils: How to Identify and Remove Them From Your Garden

Why are there notches all over the leaves of my rhododendron?

The answer is most likely the root weevil. Root weevils are little beetles about ½ inches long that appear in the late spring and early summer.

In the Northwest, they prefer to feed on the tender new growth of rhododendron plants. They also enjoy eating several other plants that are favorites of gardeners. You can find them on yews, hemlocks, strawberries, salal, huckleberry, and several others.

 

root-weevil-closeup

 

Adult root weevils are night feeders spending their days just under the soil surface staying cool and hiding from predators. The best way to know if you have a root weevil problem is the distinctive notching on the edges of leaves.

The Root Weevil Life Cycle

An adult root weevil will lay its eggs in the soil under your favorite rhododendron in mid-summer. Those eggs will hatch into larvae in late summer to early fall where they will over-winter in the top layer of soil, feeding on the fine root mass of the plant. As they grow, they will become more destructive, feeding on larger and larger roots and even the base of the plant. As the soil starts to warm in the spring, pupation takes place and the larvae will become an adult. The adult will forage on leaves for 20-45 days before it is able to start producing it’s own eggs. One adult can lay around 200 eggs in its life span of 90-120 days.

How to Get Rid of Weevils

There are many chemical insecticides on the market that can control root weevil, but they are tricky to use and can be harmful to beneficial insects. Timing is key when using chemical insecticides. You will need to know what stage of life the root weevil is currently in for maximum effectiveness. A granular grub control on the soil can wipe out the root weevil in its larvae stage if they are actively feeding at the time. A foliar insecticide can kill the adults if they are feeding as well. If they are not actively feeding you will just be wasting time, chemicals, and money. Root weevils are only actively feeding about 40% of their life.

 

image courtesy of Rhododendron.org

 

Biological Control

As an alternative to chemical treatment, use beneficial nematodes. Nematodes are small round worms that don’t get any bigger than 1 cm. They can be safely applied to the shrub and surrounding soil without use of masks, gloves, or protective equipment. They are harmless to pets, wildlife, beneficial insects, and humans, but they do quite a number on the root weevil. They actively and selectively seek out both the larval and adult root weevil.

Nematodes can be applied from early spring through fall and be completely effective. Looking for a place to buy? Give us a call!

Bud Worms: Everything You Need to Know About Them

Bud Worms: Everything You Need to Know About Them

If your petunias and geraniums are budding but won’t bloom, the reason could be the tobacco budworm also known as the geranium or petunia bud worm.

Life Cycle of a Bud Worm

Here’s what they do. The adults start to emerge as a tan to brown small moth mid-March through mid-April. They seek out the buds of flowering plants or the terminal growth (the ends of new growth) where they lay an egg. They will lay many eggs over their short lifespan. After a short time, the egg will hatch and the larvae will instinctively bore into the end of the bud where they will devour the blossom from the inside. The larvae are yellow to green in color but will take on the color of the blossom they just ate. Red geraniums will turn the larvae red. They will emerge from the bud and slowly make their way to the soil, eating any tender growth they can find on the way down. In the soil they will start the pupation process and turn into an adult moth and the cycle starts all over again. There might be as many as five generations in one summer.

What Do Bud Worms Like to Eat?

Although the budworm moth was known to only inhabit the southern regions of the country, they are creating quite a problem for gardeners in the Northwest. They have been quite successful over-wintering in the soil as a pupa. They will attack almost any tender flowering plant but they are best known for eating the buds of petunias, geraniums, and nicotiana plants. They will also go after many vegetables, especially cabbage.

How to Get Rid of Bud Worms

Almost any insecticide will kill the budworm when it’s actively feeding but won’t do anything to the moth or pupa. A bacteria known as spinosad (spin-OH-sid) will attack the budworm throughout all stages of life. The most commonly known product that contains spinosad is Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew. Just spray it on once every few weeks and the problem is solved. Call or stop by our Portland garden center to learn more about your options!