45March 1, 2018

The first day that this column appears in the newspaper is the last day of February. With any luck, March will be kind to us and the weather will hopefully get progressively warmer through the month of March.

As the weather warms, the life cycle of many insects begins to evolve. As the leaves emerge on our ornamental flowering trees and on several other varieties of trees, the winter moth caterpillar will begin to feed on those newly emerging leaves. If you look at the trunk of your trees, you may see a white substance that looks like foam on the bark. This is an egg mass that was laid by the female winter moth. Each egg mass can contain many eggs that will hatch out as the leaves emerge. There is a way to kill many of those eggs. If you spray those egg masses with horticultural oil, the oil will kill those eggs. The oil is sprayed onto the bark of the tree. The oil needs to be applied at temperatures above 40 degrees and you need 24 to 48 hours without rain for the oil to penetrate the egg cases. You may find some of the egg cases on the main branches if the branches are lower on the trunk.

The winter month caterpillar also has another favorite food. They love to eat the flower buds on blueberry bushes. If you have blueberry bushes in your yard, you should be spraying all the branches and the main stem of the blueberry bushes before the flower buds begin to swell. The oil will help to kill the eggs before the eggs hatch out into the tiny caterpillar.

During the fall, many insects will find a way to get into the attic of your home. Most are just looking for a protected place to get out of the winter elements. As the weather warms in March, these insects will be looking to get out of your home. Invariably, some of them will wind up leaving the attic and find their way into your home. Flies, box elder bugs and stinkbugs are some of the common insects that may suddenly show up in your bedroom or in other rooms of your home. When this happens, people freak out and they want to spray inside the house. I suppose you could do this, but on the day you spray, you will kill the insects that are present in the house. Within a few days, you are going to find more insects in the house. A safer method is to open the window in the room and help the insect to escape. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the insects and either release the insects outside or you can dispose of the bag that contains the insects.

Eventually, all the insects will have found their way outside and the problem will be resolved until next year at this time.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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