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Spring Bugs Are No Laughing Matter

By Ruth S. Foster
5/21/2012 11:25:33 AM

The weird weather of 2012 has caused the bugs to come at unusual times and more or less than usual. A few quick tips one can do to combat these bugs follow, but the bugs always seem to come back, laughing at us poor mortals.

Ticks that spread Lyme disease are no laughing matter. It has become one of the most common and fastest spreading disease problems. It is a very bad, debilitating disease. If you find a blood filled, engorged tick on you go to the doctor and get a dose of preventative antibiotic!

An early spring tick will be the size of a period on this page.

Most active April through July, they are rampant this year. May and June are the worst in the northeast.

And your blood is good. Always protect against the ticks when you go out. Light colored clothing, mosquito repellant. Tuck pants into socks. Always check after you have been outside gardening, playing sports or especially after walking through the woods or fields. Especially children. Spring ticks are the size of the period on this page.

Mowing the lawn and mulch on the beds helps lower the population some. Go to www.umass.edu and type in ticks. Or to your local state university's web site. I prefer university sources for my information rather than what Google sells.

Ants are also a pesky bug. For tiny sugar ants, try peppermint spray, as it's nontoxic and may work. Big black carpenter ants like dampness. Get traps with bait for them to take back to their nest. And clean up what they like to eat: protein in spring; sweets in summer, especially honey. You can try chalk across their foraging trails to confuse them. They don't like the dry, rough texture. They nest outside.

Termites are a big problem, but a new bait tube has been developed by Bell Labs that is poisonous only to ants. It consists of a long piece of wood that is used to attract them with the bait attached. No more having to spray the house perimeter with pesticides.

The Winter Moth in the northeast was supposed to be bad this warm year. If you find some leaves that look like lace when they come out, they were chewed in the bud. Nothing to do after the leaves all come out but think about spraying next year for your favorite trees. One year won't kill a tree, but give eaten trees a good watering if you are having a drought. No fertilizer though,

Will we get a late frost? Many perennials will be early this year because of the unseasonable heat, so plan for more annuals in the borders. But don't rush it. Normal for them and tomatoes is Memorial Day, May 30th, in New England. (Check your local zone for the last expected frost.) If you really want an early crop, you can plant now and cover them when a frost is predicted. But then Mother Nature may laugh.

Ruth S. Foster is a landscape consultant and arborist. More gardening

information can be found on her website, www.mothersgarden.net.

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