Nocturnal mammals, fish could be eating pond plants

Backyard Q&A

July 03, 2005|By Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali | Jon Traunfeld and Ellen Nibali,Special to the Sun

Our two water lilies have bloomed many times, but one bloom disappeared after one day. This morning I pinched off an old bloom and saw a new bud rising up. Then this afternoon, the bud was gone! Is anything eating the buds / blooms or could the fish be cutting through the stem and the bud falling to the pond bottom?

If the end of the bud stalk was ragged, the fish could be the culprits, particularly if they are larger fish. Large goldfish particularly will nibble on plants. Koi just like to dig in the pots. You also might have some nocturnal mammal visitors that are attracted by the fish and eat the buds off your lilies as well.

For years, my slightly damp basement has been infested with camel crickets. Being a "live and let live" person, I didn't care, but last year they showed up on the first floor, and now they bother my elderly blind cat by popping in her face and driving her nuts. They're also driving me nuts.

The light brown camel cricket has been described to us as a mutant cricket, a giant flea, and a cross between a spider and a grasshopper. See this hump-backed cricket on our Web site under Plant Diagnostics Pest Control. Outdoor sanitation is a good place to start reducing populations. Keep leaves from piling against the foundation, store firewood away from the house, and trim groundcovers 18 inches away. When weather cools, crickets migrate from these havens into basements. Caulk or weatherstrip any points of entry. Correct moisture problems using a dehumidifier. Vacuuming crickets and using cockroach sticky traps will pose no harm to your cat.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information and answers to plant and pest questions. Call its hot line at 800-342-2507 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.) or e-mail questions to www.hgic.umd.edu. (You can also download or order publications and diagnose plant problems online.)

Checklist

1. Water newly seeded or newly sodded areas. It is not necessary to water established turf during hot, dry periods. It can be allowed to go dormant.

2. Prune out and discard the nests of the fall webworm.

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