Gypsy moths plaguing top of blue spruce

Garden Q&A

June 23, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement | Ellen Nibali and David Clement,Special to The Sun

I never heard of gypsy moths on blue spruce, but they're eating the top of mine! What do I spray? It's too prickly to band.

Gypsy moths are back, and spruce is a new target. It's too late this year to spray with Bt, the recommended insecticide. Right now, shade tree owners should install burlap bands on trunks where caterpillars can hide and be destroyed daily.

Before next April, you can scrape egg masses off trees, buildings and any other place the females found handy. Do not inhale the irritating tiny hairs covering the egg mass. No pesticide penetrates their egg mass.

Use sticky barrier bands on the tree trunk to stop spring-hatched caterpillars from reinfesting the trees. Spray with Bt in early May. Self-help may be especially important next year, because the federal government plans to withdraw help with Maryland's gypsy moth spraying programs. Call us for free publications on gypsy moth control.

I harvested asparagus for 2 1/2 months this spring. I hear it's possible to have a fall harvest, too. How do I do that?

Next year, harvest only half of your plot in spring. Leave the other half uncut until late July, then cut down the ferny growth. The crowns will send up new spears that you can harvest until late in the season. When using this double-crop method, harvest a spring bed only in spring and a fall bed only in fall, otherwise you risk weakening the crowns.

Checklist

Stake plants that cannot support themselves when fully grown.

Remove any blackberry or raspberry canes that show virus symptoms of small, curled, distorted or mottled leaves.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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