Mosquito Mate

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have given permission to a company that says they want to “breed the worst mosquitoes out of existence.” Known as Mosquito Mate, the company intends to release nonbiting male mosquitoes into the environment. These males are infected with a strain of bacteria that kills eggs; The goal is for these males to mate with the female mosquitoes that bite during the summer. By eliminating eggs, this will reduce the amount of biting-disease carrying mosquitoes. Trials have been done with great success in Kentucky, California and New York. After introducing the new males, there was an 80% reduction in biting mosquitoes. These highly engineered insects are licensed to sell in 20 states, including New York. Eventually they will be offered for sale to property owners. 

Thank you to Constance Gibbs from The Daily News for the original information. You can read more here.

Lone Star Tick

Long Island is no stranger to ticks. Since our last post on the summer tick outbreak (which you can read here), a new contender has rose to the top of the pest pyramid; The Lone Star Tick. This tick has brought on a new symptom to occur after being bitten by the pest. The symptom is forming an allergy to red-meats. These ticks can be identified by having a white spot in the center of its back in adult form.

When Lone Star Ticks bite, they transfer a sugar in their saliva called “alpha-gal.” The human body develop antibodies and then develop severe allergic reactions when consuming red meat. The only cure for this allergy is to avoid eating meat until it goes away. This can take years. So be on the lookout while going out east to apple and pumpkin pick this fall season, in case there are any stragglers hanging on. 

Thank you to Ali Gorman from ABC News 6 for the original information. You can read more here.

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Black Wasps

Its a known fact that people do not like wasps, and with good reason. All they do is fly around bothering you while you are trying to enjoy the great outdoors. But there is one type of wasp you should keep your eye on– The Black Wasp. This wasp has a big black body with blue wings (looking similar to a flying ant.) Other names that this wasp goes by is “Katydid Hunter” and “Steel-blue Cricket Hunter.” The black wasp is a non-aggressive species of the digger wasps, and is an excellent pollinator and predator of harmful insects. Living out of solitary nests in the ground, adults feed from nectar and pollen mid-summer to early fall. Some of their favorites include milkweed, Queen Anne’s lace and white clover. Females will fly around looking for prey, then paralyze it and bring it back to the nest to feed larvae. These wasps will not sting unless provoked, so leave them be! 

Tick Outbreak on Long Island

Scientists have predicted that this upcoming season is going to show an explosion in tick populations. With the mild winter we have had, and the warm weather becoming stagnant they have stated we will also see an explosion in acorns and mice. Ticks carry a deadly disease called Lyme Disease that not all ticks carry, but the majority do. 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported each year. According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York has the highest number of confirmed Lyme Disease cases nationwide. Ticks are among the family of crabs, so they have pincers that can latch onto clothing, skin or fur without a qualm. The most common type of ticks found on Long Island are the Deer Tick, The Lonestar Tick (brought up from the South) and the American Dog Tick. While Lyme Disease is the front-runner for deadly diseases carried by ticks, it is not all that they have. There are many other deadly pathogens and bacteria for both humans and animals. If you find a tick latched onto skin on you or your pet, remove it immediately, place it in a plastic baggie and bring it to your physician or vet to get checked for diseases. Here is a list of things you can do to protect you, your family and pets from ticks this summer. 

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter.
  • Stay on center trails when hiking, while also wearing long socks, sleeves and pants. 
  • Use bug repellents with at least 20 to 30 percent DEET on any exposed skin and clothing for an extra layer of protection.

    Full Size Tick and Nymph

  • Examine yourself, your family and pets very carefully after being outside. A baby tick (or Nymph) can latch and is about the size of a poppy seed.
  • Ticks like warm parts of the body (e.g. armpits, bellybuttons, behind the ears, knees, groin, or buried under hair. 
  • Remove any ticks immediately with a pair of tweezers. The pincers and clawlike mouth, allow the pest to bury itself in your skin. Act quickly.
  • Wash any clothes that you have worn in tick infested areas immediately, then put in the dryer on the highest setting. It is impossible for the bugs to survive this. 
  • Check gear and toys you have brought with you thoroughly. 
  • Use a comb on pets, the ticks can burrow into fur and cause a plethora of infections in dogs regardless of size. 

Thank you to Newsday for the original information, you can read more here.

 

Deers

What the Deer Don’t Eat

We had a lot of deer come through the Project Bloom gardens this season, and we learned the hard way what deer will and won’t eat. We are going to be focusing our seeds for the 2016 season on things the deer don’t eat. Plus we have to grow those great branching sunflowers again, even though the deer nibbled on them, the flowers were amazing all season long.

Here are a list of plants that the Deer did not eat:

Agastache, Alyssum (white and purple, and the basket of gold perennial variety), Balloon Flowers, basil, Coleus, Columbine, Coreopsis Threadleaf, Cosmos Sensation, Cosmos Bright Lights, Dainthus (pinks), Epimedium, Forsythia, Foxglove, Gallardia, Geraniums, Helianthus, Lavender, Marigolds, Morning Glories, Painted Daisies, parsley, annual and perennial Poppies, Pulmonaria, Rose of Sharon, Roses, Rosemary, Sedum Autumn Joy, Sedum Creeping, Snapdragons, Spirea shrub, Sweet William, Verbena, Zinnias.

Here is a list of plants that the Deer did eat:

Beets, Coneflowers, Coreopsis Lanceleaf, Daylilies, Hollyhocks, Hosta, Jerusalem Artichokes, Lettuce, Shasta Daisies, Solomons Seal, Squash, Sunflowers, Tomatos

Although written info says the deer don’t eat coneflowers, ours were nibbled a bit…

 

Other plants that are supposed to be safe from deer are generally aromatic, fluffy (with small leaves or cut foliage) and bluish.

Here’s a list of more deer-resistant plants from Susan K:

Perennials: Yarrow, chives, blue start anemone, wormwood, butterfly weed, astilbe, false indigo, bergeia, boltonia, butterfly bush, turtlehead, candytuft, tiger lily, bleeding heart, joe pye weed, mint, beebalm, evening primrose, oregano, ferns, ribbon greass, jacobs ladder, sage, soapwort, scilla, tansy, veronica, vinca and yucca.

Shrubs: barberry, forsythia, beautybush, lilac

Annuals: Ageratum, dusty miller, blue salvia, wax begonia, dahlia, hypoestis, lobelia, four o’clocks, forget me nots

 

You can read more in our other article on what plants discourage deer here. 

Roosters in the Garden!

There are many visitors that come to the Project Bloom garden. One of the most recent and unexpected visitors have been roosters. They decided to come and take a gander around our garden space one day to see what was going on. Here are some photos from their visit. They just took a leisurely walk around the entire Project Bloom Garden area, taking in all the sites. 

Squash Lady Beetle

Attention! Our garden is under attack! While wandering through the garden one day, I noticed that the leaves and stems of our cucurbit plants were damaged. Upon closer inspection it looked as if they were being chewed on and were seriously damaging the growth of the plants. I noticed a small lady bug-like insect on one of the plants and also a small yellow spiny insect as well. I could not figure what they were because I have never seen them before.

After a little research, I found that they are a part of the Lady Beetle family, and are called Squash Lady Beetle’s (Epilachna borealis.) Unlike their siblings, the Squash Lady Beetle feeds on cucurbit crops instead of pests. They use their mouths to bore into stems to consume the liquids found inside. The larvae are a bright yellow color and have black spines on them. The larvae feed on the leaves of the plants. They show up in the mid-summer to reek havoc. In large enough numbers, this bug can seriously damage your summer crop. They are one of the largest Lady Beetles in Eastern North America where they originate. Keep a mindful eye on your summer cucurbits for these little insects. Below are pictures of the pests in our garden.

But how do I get rid of them? There are many options to remove the bugs from your garden. Some ways include rotating your crops each year, removing plant litter (because that is where they live in the winter,) scraping away the eggs from beneath the leaves, or making an organic insecticide. A recommendation from a professor at North Dakota State University is to use garlic, onions, one spicy pepper like jalapeno or habanero, water and a little dish soap in a sprayer and coat the leaves when you see the insects.

How to make a Simple and Easy Yellow Jacket Trap

While it is true that yellow jacket are a beneficial insect in the environment. They are doing nothing beneficial while swarming around your sweet drinks and barbeque food. Yes- you can spray pesticides and numerous repellants but that gets into the ground water and cant be around children and pets. It causes more problems than solving them. So here is a simple, and easy way to trap those pests without hurting the environment or your family.

Here is what you need:

  • A large plastic bottle (2-liter preferiably)
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 banana peel
  • Roughly about 4 cups of water
  • Razor blade/ knife

How to make the trap:

  1. Pour a half-cup of water into the 2-liter bottle. Add the 1/4 cup of sugar and shake until dissolved.
  2. Add the apple cider vinegar and shake until combined.
  3. Add the banana peel (decaying fruit attracts yellow jackets)
  4. Cut a 3/4-inch hole in the top half of the bottle.
  5. Place the bottle near the hive, or in an area away from where you hang outside.

Thank you to Rodale’s Organic Life for the original information, you can read more here.

How to keep Squirrels out of your Garden

The warm weather brings new plant life, blue skies, gardening and squirrels. Squirrels are a gardeners number one enemy, sure they look cute and scurry from here to there, but they do serious damage to gardens. They eat freshly planted seeds, uproot bulbs, eat partially grown fruit and knock off the tops of flowers. Here are some tips to keep the unwanted pests from chewing up your hard work.

Here are some signs that squirrels have been scurrying in your garden:

  • Shallow digging spots in beds, The holes should be about gold ball or smaller sized holes. Newly planted seed beds are popular amongst the furry rascals.
  • Bite marks and missing fruit. Favorite fruits and vegetables of squirrels include but are not limited to beans, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, eggplants and strawberries.
  • Dug up containers. If you have large planters that have been dug into, it’s a likely assumption a squirrel has been burying nuts and looking for seeds.
  • Flowers that are partially eaten are also a snatch for squirrels. They are fond to Daisy blooms, and also others like Daffodils. Missing petals and partially eaten center disk’s are a clue to a squirrel invasion.

There are many ways to help repel, or keep squirrels out of your garden. Here are some things you can do to control those pesky rodents.

  • Remove what attracts them. Fallen fruit, nuts and seeds can lure squirrels into your yard. Clean up the fallen plants and also clean beneath bird feeders and trees. Also make sure that trash can lids are secure, so you don’t have anything going through your personals in the hunt for food.
  • Repel them. There are many products online that can help cope with your squirrel problem. You can buy various sprays including capsaicin (what puts the hot in hot peppers), vinegar, essential oils like peppermint– even animal urines such as tiger and wolf!
  • You could also scare them. By training your pet to chase squirrels or just letting them run around in the yard it should frighten the pesky critters. You can also use randomized sprinkler systems or hang up aluminum pie tins to make noise.
  • By putting up chicken wire or fences, exclude the squirrels from even entering the garden. You can even put up a cage around the garden!
  • Protect any open soil from the digging of squirrels by covering it with cloth or chicken wire. You can also protect your plants by also wrapping them in chicken wire.
  • While many gardeners think that an effective method is to use squirrel traps, it is not the best idea. While its true you can just release them after catching in an open area, in many parts of the country they are considered a game species. Which means that trapping them alive, can get you into big trouble with your state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife or Game (So check with them first!)

Thank you to Julie Martens for the original information. You can read more here.

Aftermath of our Squirrels

Here are some photos of what the squirrels that live by us are doing. They keep chewing up some of our plants and the fruits we are growing in our garden! So far, we have lost some strawberries, one of our sweet potatoes, and some bulbs. Squirrels are the worst during the Spring. Curse these pests! 

Mosquito Prevention and Control

It’s that time of the year again, yes the warm weather is great especially at night. But with warm weather and long summer days comes our number one flying enemy– mosquitos. Mosquitos can be harmless and just leave itchy bites, but can also carry West Nile Virus which can be deadly. There are many ways to handle the control and prevention of mosquitos by just a few simple steps.

1. Eliminate any standing water that shouldn’t be there (i.e. puddles, unused plastic pools, wet tires.)

2. Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least once a week to eliminate larvae from growing.

3. Be careful when irrigating gardens and lawns, be cautious of using too much water.

4. If there are ditches near your home that contain stagnate water for longer than a week, report it to a Public Health office or Mosquito Control Center.

5. You can always purchase a trap like a bug zapper, to help with the control of adult mosquitos.

6. Reduce the number of spots where mosquitos can live such as weeds, tall grasses and vegetation. You can reduce these by cutting the lawn more often and putting down an herbicide for weeds or by pulling them out.

7. As a last resort you can always use pesticides, however the bugs can become immune to them after time. Also they can get into ground water and vegetation you grow which can be harmful.

8. Bug spray, Citronella candles, Oscillating fans, Tiki torches, amd even Listerine mouthwash can help keep them away when sitting outside as well.

You can read more about prevention of mosquitos and learn more information here. 

Deers

Plants that discourage deer

Here in the northeast, there has recently been an overwhelming number of deer in spots. The victim of the mass quantity of deers is people’s gardens. Since there is a sparse food source for the deer due to overpopulation, they have to turn to alternative methods. Since a starving deer will eat almost anything, there is no designated “deer resistant” plant. However, deer can be picky eaters. Some favorite plants of deers include arborvitae, rhododendron, hosta, tulips and yews. So be weary of planting those if you have a deer issue. Here is a list of plants that deer find inedible:

  • Butterfly Bush
  • Catmint
  • Clump Bamboo
  • Daffodil
  • Dwarf Alberta Spruce
  • Fern
  • Fountain Grass
  • Ornamental Onion
  • Yucca

While there is deer repellant that is sold in stores, it can be pricey and has to be reapplied many times. This constant reapplication can lead to the repellant getting into ground water. If your deer debacle is minimal (about 1 to 3 deer), home remedies can be useful. You can collect human hair (either from a barbershop, salon, or your own house) and place a few handfuls in mesh bags and hang them in trees 2 to 3 feet off the ground.You can also hang heavily scented soap like Irish Spring in a bag from a tree.

If your problem is severe, the only remedy may be installing a fence. Keep in mind that starving deer can jump a 6-foot fence- you will have to get creative. Either install an 8-foot fence, a 6-foot fence angled out at 45 degrees, or two fences at least 3 feet tall and about 4 feet apart. Deer won’t be able to leap over both sets of fences.

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.

You can also read more here, in our other article on what plants deers will not eat.