Archive for the ‘News’ Category

What’s not to love about love bugs? by Ashley Grubb

Lots of things… Including, the way they swarm around me when I’m outside, and the way they plaster themselves all over the front of my truck…


Over the last few days I’ve noticed a steadily increasing bombardment of amorous pairs and lonely singles out on the prowl. What is the deal with these annoying little exhibitionists?
The scientific name for love bugs is Plecia nearctica. They are also known as honeymoon flies, kissing bugs, and double-headed bugs, and are classified into a family of insects known as march flies. Also included in this family are the equally annoying fungus gnats and mosquitoes. Love bugs are generally weak fliers and aside from finding each other irresistible, they are also attracted to bright white surfaces, heat, asphalt, gasoline, and exhaust fumes. They are considered “semi-annual” pests because the adults have two emergence’s (called flights) per year. These flights can include clouds numbering in the hundreds of thousands!
Before we get into too many more details, we must first address the urban legend. Rumor has it that love bugs were a genetic experiment gone wrong. It is said that the University of Florida created sterile female love bugs as potential mates for Florida’s mosquito population as a method of controlling their populations. However, something went wrong and a male was accidentally created too and they escaped together into the wild to populate the world! As the frequent target of Aggie jokes, I almost wish this were true, but it’s not.
Love bugs have been around for a long time in Central America and have just been slowly migrating north. Do we need to worry about them as pests? Nope- they eat nectar and their larvae eat rotting vegetation, so no harm there, BUT they do have one really annoying trick up their sleeves. While alive, they have an almost neutral body pH of 6.5, but when they become smeared hood ornaments on the front of your shiny new car something changes. They have the ability, post mortem, to lower their pH and turn into tiny blobs of acid that will wreak havoc on paint jobs in less than a day. Newer automobiles have more advanced paint and fewer issues, but you have my sympathy if you drive my old pitted 2007 black Dodge Neon.
If that nasty pH magic trick wasn’t enough, love bugs also occur in such dense populations during their flights that they have the ability to clog radiator air passages and contribute to engines overheating. Why so many at once you ask? They have had to evolve the ability to synchronize these mass flights if they want to have any hope of finding a mate and living up to their name, because the adult females only live for 4 days!
So hang in there and support your local car wash, or invite a co-worker to carpool and let this be his week  The swarms should be over soon!  L

Event Cancellation for April 1, 2017

Unfortunately, Chef Chris had to cancel this Saturday’s seminars due to a family emergency. We will let you know when he reschedules. Thanks for your understanding.

Is my citrus tree dead? by Ashley Grubb

Here’s a question that we’ve been hearing a lot lately! “Is my citrus tree dead?” The recent freezing weather was just cold enough, it might be.

If there is still no sign of life and no new growth has started to come out of the branches or the base of your tree, it might be time to give up. Scratching the trunk with your fingernail is a good way to tell if there’s any life- if you see green under the area where you scratched, there’s still hope. If, however, it’s all brown, that part of the tree is dead.

We have seen lots of trees like the one pictured here. The top of the tree is dead. If your tree looks like this, you have 2 options. (1) You can cut the tree way back to where there are signs of new growth, and be patient for a year or two while it grows back, or (2) you can dig it up and start over.

Should you decide to take option 1 and cut your tree back, it’s important to determine if the new growth is above or below the graft. The rootstock that our citrus trees are grafted to is thorny and produces undesirable fruit, if any. You don’t want that growing in your yard if the good part of the tree is dead. If you are only getting growth from the rootstock, dig up the tree and start over.

The citrus tree in our picture has growth above and below the graft. The smaller leaves on the left side are from the rootstock. These are the ones you don’t want. They will need to be removed as they sprout, in order to promote the re-growth of your original citrus tree. Just cut them off with a pair of pruners and after a while they should stop trying to grow. Now would be a good time to also add a handful of fertilizer to help the tree re-grow. We recommend MicroLife Citrus. With a little know-how and some patience you should be back to harvesting lemons and oranges in no time!

We know all of this can be confusing, so if you’re unsure, bring us a picture and we’ll be happy to help.  If your citrus didn’t make the winter, we have lots of new replacements in stock that are happily blooming and ready to take over!

Citrus Canker: What you need to know by Ashley Grubb

Citrus canker is a term that we’ve been hearing a lot about lately and one that is relatively new to the ears of our customers. We’ve been getting lots of questions lately, and it seems like the past few years have been filled with all kinds of citrus-related news that, as consumers, we wonder if we should worry about.

As many of you may already know, citrus greening is a disease that has lead to a quarantine restricting the movement of citrus trees in and out of counties around the Houston area. This quarantine has been set in place primarily as a precaution to prevent infection, isolate, reduce, and eradicate the disease. Last year, added to that, was a quarantine area in Harris County for citrus canker.

So why even grow citrus trees then?! Because they’re beautiful plants that produce bumper crops of tasty fruit, and the quarantines aren’t as terrible and citrus-world-ending as they sound. By exercising a little precaution and abiding by the rules of the Department of Agriculture you should have absolutely no problem, and can continue to enjoy your home-grown orange juice!

So what is citrus canker you ask? It’s an infection caused by a bacterium that can be spread through wind and rain. The bacterium looks for injuries on a citrus tree where it can enter its leaves or stems. Damage caused by leaf miners- the tiny insects that make citrus leaves distort and curl up while leaving little clear race track lines all over the surface- is one of the best ways for the bacterium to enter its citrus host. However, it can also be spread by contact, so it’s important to keep your pruners clean and sterile if trimming multiple citrus trees (which is good practice anyway).

How do you know if your citrus tree is infected? It probably isn’t, but, symptoms include leaf spotting and fruit rind blemishing.

 

 

 

The disease can also cause defoliation, shoot dieback, and fruit drop. It isn’t the same thing as citrus greening, and the symptoms can also be confused with citrus bacterial spot, citrus scab, leprosis, malnutrition, bird damage, and greasy spot. If something looks off with your tree, don’t despair! It’s probably something minor and easily treated. Consult an expert before you assume the worst!

Since there is no cure for the bacterium, prevention is the best approach. Growers are working diligently to prevent the disease by growing citrus under insect screens. Their greenhouses have airlocks on both ends and they have installed personal wash stations for employees, so you can be sure that the citrus trees you purchase from Enchanted are perfectly healthy.

Once you bring your trees home, follow the instructions on the labels of any chemicals you use, and don’t take your citrus trees on road trips! Controlling the damage caused by leaf miners is the best preventative measure you can do. Enchanted has all of the products you need to kill leaf miners and we have also brought in citrus leaf miner traps to help you determine the most effective times to treat- come visit us and stock up!

 

For more information on leaf miners visit:

 

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/Gardening_Handbook/PDF-files/GH-006–citrus-leafminer.pdf

 

An early spring preventative spray of copper fungicide might not be a bad idea as well. Also, just be sure to observe your citrus tree if you’re within with citrus canker quarantine boundary.

 

For more information, and to view the quarantine map visit:

https://www.texasagriculture.gov/RegulatoryPrograms/PlantQuality/PestandDiseaseAlerts/CitrusCanker.aspx

 

We have lots of great citrus varieties this spring and they’re all about to bloom! Come see and smell one of the reasons why we love them so much!

Phones are working!

Thanks so much for your patience. The phones are working again at Enchanted Forest.

F.Y.I

If you have been trying to call Enchanted Forest or Enchanted Landscapes, unfortunately our phones are not working. We are hoping they will be fixed soon. Our hours are 8:30 – 5:30 (Monday-Saturday) and 10:00 – 4:00 (Sunday). Come on out and see us!

Mason Bees by Ashley Grubb

When it comes to keeping our gardens beautiful and productive, pollinators are everything! Most of us think of butterflies when we consider the pollinators we want to attract, but what about bees? Honeybees are great, don’t get me wrong, but there are way more species of beneficial pollinators in the bee world, aside from their honey-making spokesmen.

Mason bees for instance, are the milder, more soft-spoken cousins to the honeybee. They are non-aggressive and non-stinging! No reason to run and hide from these guys! Mason bees are native to the US and common just about everywhere. Unlike honeybees, mason bees are non-social and do not live in colonies. They are the ‘lone rangers’ of the bee world. No massive beehives and swarming colonies to worry about with these guys!

They also arrive just in time for your fruit trees to start blooming! Mason bees hatch from eggs in the spring. They are super efficient, but short-lived pollinating powerhouses! They only live for 8-10 weeks, but during that time, each mason bee can pollinate up to 20 times more flowers per day than a honeybee. Amazingly, it only takes 2-3 mason bees to pollinate an entire mature apple tree!

Since we’ve had some cold this winter, I think we’re all hopeful for an abundant fruit harvest this spring and summer. One simple thing you can do to encourage the pollination process is to provide attractive habitat for newly hatched mason bees and places for them to lay their eggs for the next generation.

One way to do this is to find a south-facing wall or protected area near your garden and mount a mason bee house. (Enchanted has some cute ones!)

No bee house? No problem! A cluster of open-ended bamboo garden stakes (Enchanted has them too) cut to about 8” long and tied (or hot-glued) together works fine too, and is a great project for the kids! Want to get Dad involved? Have him drill a bunch of 5/16” holes that are 4-6” deep in a piece of untreated wood, and make that your bee house. Mason bees aren’t too picky. No matter what you use, the goal is to get the mason bees to lay their eggs in the holes so your yard will be first stop next year when they hatch. In the meantime, you may see them collecting a little mud around your garden to bring back to their new house- that’s a good sign.

 

Once spring is over, hopefully your bee house will be full of eggs that will lay dormant until next spring. Feel free to even take your bee house down this summer and store in the garage until next February. It won’t disturb the bee eggs one bit. Just remember to set a reminder to put the house back out before they hatch in your garage next year!

Good luck with your bee house crafting projects and best wishes for lots of happy pollinators in your yard this spring!

 

Asian Cycad Scale on Sego Palms by Rebecca Band

It has been an excellent year for insects with the heat and rain we have received. Most plants have had their share of insects including Sego Palms. Owners of Sego Palms must take special notice and care to protect their palms from an infestation of Asian Cycad Scale. The scale appears as small white lines all over the base of the palm moving up to the fronds.
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This particular type of scale is very aggressive and difficult to control. It spreads quickly, through the air and through the soil attacking the root system. Cycad Scale will kill your plant and at a fast pace. Catching it early is the first step. Second and third; you will need not only an on-contact control, but you will need a systemic control. Horticultural oil can be used to smother the visible insects. All Seasons Spray Oil or any other horticultural oil will work well. A product with Malathion as the active ingredient is another on-contact control. A systemic insecticide with an active ingredient of Acephate should also be used to control any scale in the soil on the root system.

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If some of the fronds are completely infested don’t be afraid to cut them off and dispose of them in a sealed garbage bag. Additional treatments may be required. Please be kind and don’t spread the bugs.

Halloween Bug Blog by Ashley Grubb

In honor of it being that spooky, creepy-crawly time of year, when our nightmares come to life and scenarios from only the scariest of horror movies are set up all over town in the form of haunted houses, I thought it would be fun to gross you out a little and tell you all about the haunted house you have right in your own backyard.  Be glad you’re not insect-sized, or you’d be hiding under your tiny bed!

 

The insect world is full of all kinds of characters that are perfect for Halloween. One particularly yucky group are called parasites. Just the mention of the name grosses me out! There are all different kinds of parasites- some just quietly live off of their host, some are able to manipulate their hosts’ behaviors, and some will even eventually kill their host when they are no longer needed.

 

If you have a vegetable garden, or are growing tomato plants, you have probably seen a tomato hornworm. These large, fat, bright green caterpillars with a curved horn on their rear are a common pest that will eat all of the leaves off of your tomato plants, reducing them to stubs in a day. While they may be annoying, they do also serve a purpose in the web of life, as one of the favorite hosts for a kind of parasitic wasp. Parasitic wasps are tiny, beneficial predators that help to naturally control the populations of pest species that would otherwise destroy your plants or require endless spraying with insecticides. They target aphids, webworms, tent caterpillars, grubs, borers, mealy bugs, and many other pests. Parasitic wasps are common everywhere, but are generally so small, quiet and mild-mannered, you’ve probably never noticed them. In the case of the hornworm, they’re not so nice and gentle. (que ominous laughter)Hornworms play an important role in the completion of the life cycle of the parasitic wasps. A female wasp will find a young unsuspecting hornworm caterpillar and inject her eggs just under its skin. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae begin feeding on the insides of the caterpillar. They will eat until they can literally chew themselves out of the caterpillar’s skin. Yuck! At this point, the wasps make tiny white egg-shaped cocoons all over the surface of the still barely alive caterpillar and will emerge soon after as more adult wasps ready to search for their next victims. Their existing caterpillar host will die soon after they emerge, typically from loss of internal organs…

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Another creepy and interesting group of insects you can commonly find in your own backyard are assassin bugs. These are another beneficial group you should welcome with open arms- unless you’re a fly, caterpillar, or other kind of bug! Assassin bugs get their name because of the way they kill their prey. They are built with some pretty crazy accessories. When they find a bug they’d like to eat, they impale it with their medieval sword-like mouthpart. They then inject their prey with a chemical that temporarily paralyzes while also liquefying its insides. These creepy killers then slurp out their liquid meal, leaving nothing but an empty shell behind. Some super-barbaric assassin bugs will even take it a step further and throw the empty carcass up on their back and glue it into place to wear as its own tiny Halloween costume. Some of these guys have been seen carrying around huge piles of glued on dead bug victims. Pretty creepy and disgusting if you ask me….and perfect for Halloween!

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Insects like these prove that you just never know what you will find when you enter the insect realm, or what might be lurking just outside your door right now!

 

Interested in a little more scary insect information? Come see me this Saturday at Enchanted Forest from 10am-noon and Enchanted Gardens from 2pm-4pm. I will have my collection of live hissing cockroaches, millipedes, Peter Parker the tarantula, and Pickle the whiptail scorpion.  Pose for a picture with a roach or touch a millipede if you’re feeling brave! Leave sporting a new (temporary) bug tattoo and be sure to enter our contest for a great prize. In keeping with the bug theme, we’ll be featuring some great Lady Bug brand products with some fun freebies and giveaways! There will also be a few other creepy surprises in store that you will just have to come see to believe! See ya’ll Saturday!

 

 

Taking Care of Your Lawn after Sod Webworm by Rebecca Band

 

For those of you who have been affected by Sod Webworm, or any other stress of the long summer, you may have noticed your lawn may be looking less than perfect lately.  Ignoring it could come with a large price tag.  Weeds and bare brown patches may be the most obvious consequences.

To control the weeds synthetically, it is safe to use Weed Beater for Southern Lawns as long as the weather is below 90 degrees.  For the organic enthusiasts, Crabgrass Killer or Horticultural Vinegar can be applied directly to the existing weeds any time of year.  Also, good old fashioned pulling the weeds out is extremely effective.

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Weeds may not be the only problem you will face in the next several weeks.  With the warm days and cool nights fungus is beginning to brew.  You will want to protect what grass you may have left and strengthen it so next year you won’t be suffering from all issues that affect weak lawns.  First fertilize with a low-nitrogen lawn fertilizer.  Nitro Phos Fall Fertilizer 8-12-16, Turf Food with Mycorrihzal Fungi 4-2-2, and MicroLife 6-2-4 are all good options.  Nitrogen increases the probability of getting Brown Patch.

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Prevention is key.  To prevent weeds from appearing in the spring Nitro Phos Barricade can be applied right now.  A healthy lawn will push out any chance of weeds and prevent insect and fungal infestations.  Strengthening the root system in your lawn is essential for health.  Add Cotton Burr Compost or humates to your lawn to break up clay soils, increase microbial activity, and strengthen root systems.  Soil Menders Stimulate and MicroLife Humates Plus are products with humates.
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