Western Mountains and High Plains

July, 2009
Regional Report

Watch for Frothy Spittlebugs on Pfitzers

You don't need to panic -- this "spittle" is caused by harmless conifer spittlebugs. These are seasonal insects (about a month late this year) and they cling to the foliage of the evergreens. They produce a sticky fluid that surrounds their bodies. Bubbles of air are a part of the fluid secreted by the young nymphs, resulting in the characteristic spittle masses. Since spittlebugs are not considered serious pests of evergreens, one of the best ways to eliminate the problem is to wash them off the plant with a forceful stream of water from your garden hose.

Crabapples Under Attack

Ornamental crabapples and other apple varieties with fuzzy, lint-like accumulations on branches, stems, and around the base of the trunk are under attack from pests known as woolly aphids. Their feeding on plant tissues can stunt the plant and in some cases predispose the plant to disease infections. One of the most effective controls is a simple homemade soap spray. Apply during the coolest part of the day or hose them off the bark with a strong stream of water.

Don't Waste Beer on Slugs

Reduce slug invasions with this effective and economical homemade slug bait. Mix one teaspoon of sugar and one-fourth teaspoon yeast into one cup of water. Pour the liquid bait into shallow empty tuna cans or yogurt cups with the rims buried to ground level. The fermenting yeast will lure the slugs to the traps where they will drown.

Deadhead Annuals

As the heat of summer causes pansies and violas to wane, now is a good time to cut the old foliage back and clean up the flower beds. Provide them with an application of all-purpose, organic fertilizer and water thoroughly. As they sit out the summer, they are preparing to return into a burst of bloom again in late August and throughout the fall.

Check Beans for Pests

If you're growing bush beans, check the underside of the leaves for clusters of bright yellow egg masses. These are deposited by Mexican bean beetles and will soon hatch into tiny larvae that will feed on the leaves. A heavy infestation will cause the leaves to appear shredded and foliage will soon dry up. Bean production is reduced. You can easily control these pests by squishing the egg clusters as you discover them.

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