| Beverly Shaw
Question and Answer
Q. We have a new home, which we built three
years ago on
Lake Shafer, and we
have lady bug problems. The first summer, they seemed to be all over the
houses outside, and we are always finding them inside, sometimes on one
side of the house more than the other. Do you know how to get rid of them?
Thanks.-- Jeanne Garofalo, Chicago,
A. The Asian lady beetle is considered a
beneficial insect outdoors, where it consumes great quantities of aphids,
but, indoors, we tend to regard it as a pest. Masses of lady beetles congregate
on buildings in the fall, particularly on the southwest sides of light-colored
buildings close to wooded areas. When the temperatures fall, they move
into tight cracks and crevices and eventually find their way into your
home, where they go into a hibernation-like mode. The first warm days
of spring bring them back into your living areas. I have dozens in my
windows right now, but I consider myself lucky, since clusters of hundreds
or thousands are not uncommon! The good news is they do not directly damage
anything or infest stored food or destroy furnishings. They're just annoying!
Vacuuming is the best method of control,
but be sure to empty the vacuum afterward or live beetles will find their
way out again. Chemical treatments are available but require "fogging"
your home and do not affect beetles still secluded. This fall, seal the
beetles out of your home by caulking and repairing openings. You might
consider using a pesticide as a perimeter treatment. For more information,
call the Purdue Extension office in your county and request a copy of
Asian Lady Beetle (E-214) or get a copy online at http://www.entm.purdue.edu/entomology/ext/targets/e-series/EseriesPDF/E-214.pdf.
Q. I have a question concerning my blue
spruce trees. Some of them are turning brown, and the needles are falling
off. We planted them around our property 7 years ago. It is only random
trees, not all of them are doing it; there might be a healthy tree on
Do you have any idea why? Thanks. -- Terry
Reaves, Lafayette, Ind.
A. Unfortunately, there are too many possibilities
and not enough information for me to make a diagnosis. Check for spruce
spider mites in April and May. Hold a sheet of white paper below the branches,
and tap the branches above. You're looking for small, dark insects on
the paper. For more information, ask the Purdue Extension office in your
county for Spider Mites on Ornamentals (E-42) or get a copy online at
Alternatively, the problem could be mechanical.
Has there been heavy equipment or construction in the area? Has the area
been unusually dry or water-logged? Is there any damage to the trunk,
caused by rodents, deer or twine left in place at ground level? Answers
to these questions will be necessary to determine the culprit. You might
call the Purdue Extension office in your county and ask an educator for
help with the diagnosis.
Unfortunately, by the time an evergreen shows
symptoms, it is often too late to save the tree. Your goal is to determine
the problem as soon as possible so you can save the seemingly healthy
Q. I have grape vines that have been in
the same location for many years, and, although thousands of grape seeds
have fallen to the ground and I have planted many seeds from other grapes,
not one has ever produced a sprout. How can this be? Why do they have
seeds, if not to reproduce? -- Tony Ballas,
A. Assuming you have seeded grapes, as opposed
to seedless, grape seeds require stratification (moist chilling) of about
12 weeks at 33-40 F. It could be that the seeds are not staying at a cold
enough temperature for a long enough period. Or, if you're counting on
them to germinate after they land on the ground, they might be drying
out before they sprout. Typically, new grape vines are sold as bareroot
plants, and, if you want new plants, this would be the best way for you
to get a cultivar of known quality.