Western Mountains and High Plains

April, 2010
Regional Report

Check for lawn pests

You can detect the presence of lawn insects by watching the blackbirds and starlings. Look for them feeding on the lawn, or for the presence of small pecking holes every few inches. You may see clipped grass and small piles of fecal pellets, or the insects themselves. Sod webworms and cutworms can be brought to the surface of the lawn using irritants. A drench of liquid dishwashing detergent (one percent dilution) will irritate caterpillars and make them squirm to the surface. Healthy lawns can tolerate some feeding injury without apparent effects. If the extent of injury warrants action, check with your local Cooperative Extension office for information on appropriate controls and their timing.

Plant gladiolus

For a nice supply of colorful blooms that will attract hummingbirds and hawk moths, plant gladiolus bulbs from mid-April through May. Set out groups of corms at two week intervals to stagger blooming times throughout the summer and early fall. It will be a sight to behold.

Watch for shade tree borers

Trees and shrubs that are stressed from lack of moisture can be susceptible to attack from the ash borer. This pest can damage ash, lilac, and privet species. It is one of the clearwing borers, related to the peach tree and raspberry crown borers. Keep trees healthy by proper maintenance that includes pruning and deep watering. This will reduce borer invasion. Once borers have entered the trunk, controls are difficult.

Check new spruce growth

The spruce gall adelgid is the pest responsible for the galls that form on spruce trees. As the buds swell in the spring, overwintering females produce a large egg sack. As the eggs hatch, the young insects will settle and feed at the base of the new needles. This causes the galls to form. Galls are not harmful to the tree, but are often of cosmetic concern. If you decide to reduce gall formation on your spruce trees, consult a certified arborist.

Transplant houseplants

As houseplants begin to outgrow their pots, transplant them to new containers in a fresh potting mixture. Longer days and warmer temperatures stimulate new growth, and it's a great time to prune and transplant unwieldy specimens. Wash dust off foliage and leach the soil of salt accumulations by giving the soil a thorough watering. Discard the water from the drainage saucer.

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