Keep bats around but outside house

GARDEN Q&A

September 15, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement

Our neighbor saw about 15 bats flying out of our attic. I understand that they eat mosquitoes, but can't they be rabid? What do we do?

Bats are good because they eat so many pest insects, but because of disease they should not cohabit with humans. Do not attempt to handle the bats. To remove them, use an exclusion device so that when they exit the attic they will not be able to reenter. Bats are a protected species. They cannot be excluded when their young are inside, otherwise the flightless pups will be trapped. Happily, the best time of year to take action is after Sept. 1, when the young can fly, and before they enter hibernation in November. The best time of day to take action is after dusk, while they are out feeding. For more information see our online publication Dealing with Nuisance Wildlife, or call the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Hotline at 877-463-6497.

My chrysanthemum's stems look black and like they are rotting with droopy leaves. The flowers look OK. The bed is improved soil on top of red clay. The mum is near a big rock, and years ago I buried a dead squirrel there. Could either of those be the problem?

The rock and squirrel are innocent. Sounds like root rot disease. Several soil-borne fungi will infect mums, particularly in poorly drained soil such as clay. When planting in clay, improve the soil in the bed with compost first. Remove your infected mums. There is no chemical control.

Checklist

Before overseeding your lawn, rake the area vigorously with a metal rake to loosen the soil and promote good contact between the seed and the soil. Seed needn't be covered with soil.

Now is a good time to plant trees, but only dig up and move some trees such as dogwood, tulip poplar, pin oak and evergreens in the spring.

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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