Friday, April 22, 2011

Boring Times are Upon Us


From: Steven Frank, Extension Entomologist

Boring Times are Upon Us

A number of clearwing borers are active that can damage ornamental trees and shrubs. This week we captured over a hundred lesser peach tree borers in a single trap. The lesser peachtree borer, Synanthedon pictipes LPTB, is primarily a pest of peach and cherry trees including ornamental cherry. We also caught a lot of dogwood borers, Synanthedon scitula. Dogwood borers have a wide host range that includes dogwood (Cornus florida), but also cherry and apple. In both species adults emerge from tree trunks in spring (now!) and lay eggs on the bark of host trees. Larvae hatch and bore through bark and into trees. Existing bark damage is a preferred oviposition site. The primary means of prevention for susceptible trees is maintaining healthy trees and protecting trees from mechanical damage to bark. In addition, a contact insecticide such as permethrin can be sprayed on tree bark to deter oviposition and successful entry by larvae.

Traps in WNC are also being monitored- an update will be available soon.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Growin' in the Mountains

Growing in the Mountains is going on today and tomorrow as are several other plant sales events. Just came back from the show with several new plants for my own garden. Got to visit with several of my small growers and meet a few old friends that I had not seen in some time. The mood was very upbeat, sales brisk, and vendors very happy. If you are in the Asheville area today and tomorrow you should drop by the Farmer's Market and make some plant purchases. It will get you into the gardening mood- in spite of the rain.

Would like to take the opportunity to thank nurseryman and sustainability guru, Chuck Marsh from Useful Plants Nursery, in Black Mt for his comments about calling elected official to encourage them to keep funding Cooperative Extension. His calls were fruitful and the office of Mr. Tom Apodoca went the extra mile to let him know that his vote would be in support of NC Cooperative Extension and our efforts to provide the information needed by our growers to stay in business during these lean times. Thanks to both Chuck Marsh and to Senator Apodoca.
In case you are not familiar with Useful Plants Nursery, they are located off Highway 9 near Black Mountain. They are probably the only nursery in this area that focuses almost exclusively on fruiting plants.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Ornamental Pest News for April 15th

The pests mentioned in this blog may be a little later here in Western NC but be on the lookout!
Read carefully.


From: Steve Bambara, Extension Entomologist

Early Spring Insects

Just to catch you up over the past few weeks, you've probably already noticed the ground nesting bees. Some of the early species are andrenids, but other species will be popping up through the spring. These can upset home owners, but they are not a sting threat. For more information, see Ornamentals and Turf Insect Note No. 100 at

Carpenter bees are very active. Males are marking off territory and looking for females. These bees are good pollinators. They can be very distracting if boring into your porch or deck. It’s time to practice your tennis serve. For more information, see Residential, Structural and Community Pests Insect Note No. 4 at

Tent caterpillars seem late, but the temperatures have been up and down. These hairy caterpillars web the crotches of cherry trees and crabapples, primarily. For more information, see Ornamentals and Turf Insect Note No. 62 at

Minute Cypress Scales

The minute cypress scale may be tiny in size, but it can be a headache if you're trying to grow Leyland Cypress. It may also infest other hosts such as arborvitae, juniper and similar evergreens. The minute cypress scale, Carulaspis minima, is a small armored scale with a circular to oval cover (Fig. 13). It has a brown papery appearance with a yellow center. The scales can be found on needles and bark, where they cause yellowing and dieback. This scale overwinters on the needles, and the crawlers hatch in late spring. A recently received specimen at the Plant Disease and Insect Clinic at North Carolina State University ( showed eggs still not hatched, so there is a little time in most regions before the crawler stage. For additional information on insect pests of the Leyland Cypress, see Ornamentals and Turf Insect Note No. 133 on the web at

From: Steven Frank, Extension Entomologist

Boxwood Leafminers are Active!

The boxwood leafminer is the most commonly reported pest of boxwoods in North Carolina. Accidentally introduced from Europe, this small fly seems to prefer American boxwood, although English and Japanese boxwoods are also susceptible. Boxwoods infested with this leafminer develop blisters on the lower leaf surface. Infested leaves are usually smaller, off-color and drop sooner than healthy leaves. Heavily infested boxwoods usually have sparse foliage and poor color.

Adult leafminers are active right now. The flies can be found hovering around boxwoods looking for places to lay eggs. A number of insecticides can be used to prevent the flies from landing and laying eggs or to kill the maggots that mine the leaves and cause damage. More information can be found at
Ornamental Pest Alerts on Twitter

I am offering a new pest alert system this year via Twitter. Twitter is a social networking service that allows short messages to be sent to anyone who signs up to receive them. The advantage of Twitter over electronic mail for this purpose is that Tweets arrive on grower smart phones or cell phones while they are in the field working rather than on their office desk in the evening.

I am monitoring landscape and nursery pest activity by degree day calculations and scouting, then “tweet” when I find that pests are active or will soon be active. My Twitter name is @OrnaPests. Sign up for Twitter (super easy) then choose to follow @OrnaPests to receive these valuable alerts.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.

Friday, April 1, 2011

North Carolina Agriculture Needs Your Help

North Carolina Agriculture Needs Your Help!

N.C. Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES), N.C. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service (NCDA & CS) budgets maybe cut drastically, this week! The State Budget, including the Higher Education Budget will be considered early next week. The Higher Education Budget is where the College’s Agricultural Programs, which include NCCES and ARS budgets reside. Potential state cuts may result in a 25-30% budget reduction to these programs. For NCCES these reductions would result in the loss of over $13 million and 300-400 positions. Similar cuts face research.

Agriculture is the #1 industry in N.C., providing $74.3 billion and 688,000 jobs to our state. The NCCES, NCDA&CS and the ARS programs support agriculture in N.C. everyday through current research and cutting-edge technology, services that maximize on-farm efficiency and education. On average, it costs N.C. consumers only 2 cents per day to conduct these programs that contribute to the success of not only local farmers, but local communities. Needless to say, a 25-30% budget reduction would be devastate the ability of these programs to meet the current and future needs of the citizens of N.C.

The NCCES partners with communities to deliver research-based education and technology that enrich the lives, land and economy of North Carolinians. NCCES delivers programming in 4-H Youth Development, Family and Consumer Sciences, Natural Resources and Agriculture. The accomplishments and impacts of NCCES include:
Assisting in the creation of the school lunch program in rural communities and library system (Family and Consumer Sciences)
In 2011, the construction of the WNC Regional Livestock Center was completed. In its first sale over 1,200 head of livestock were sold accounting of $1 million, all staying in the local economy. (Agriculture).

The following are “talking points” you can use to discuss with your N.C. Representative and Senator.

1. N.C. ranks 3rd nationally in agriculture representing 8 major commodities.

2. N.C. has one of the best extension service and research programs in the country. A recent study showed that the productivity of N.C. agriculture has gained more that 2% per year since 1960. This increase is directly related to the state’s investment in research and extension.

3. In 2010 NCCES reported over 5.8 million contacts.

4. The primary research, extension, marketing and development organizations supporting agriculture are not only effective, but frugal. NCCES and the Research budget account for only 0.23% and 0.30% of the General Fund, respectively. Combining this with the NCDA & CS (0.31%) and NCA&T SU budgets, the total budget for these programs this equals to only 1% of the General Fund!

5. Agricultural research helps families save money. Agricultural productivity is largely responsible for the fact that the percentage of U.S. household income spent on food has decreased 22.3 to 9.5% at the same time that total food consumption increased.

6. For every $1 invested in public agricultural research $32 is returned back to society!

7. 4-H is one of the Nation’s premier youth development programs. Compared to their peers, youth engaged in 4-H stay in school longer, have higher graduation rates and college attendance and graduation, smoke less, have significantly lower rates of criminal conduct and arrests, and are more involved in their communities..

Everyone has your own personal story about how these programs have impacted your life. NOW is the time to share your story with your N.C. Representative and N.C. Senator. Handwritten notes and phone calls are the most effective means of reaching these individuals.

If you have written you elected officials or plan to do so please let us know so we can keep a record of our supporters. Thank you letters directed to agents and carbon copied to our administrators and elected officials go a long way in keeping up the morale of all of our staff during times of uncertainty like we are currently facing.

We realize that all of you are also facing economic hardships and having the pain of laying off good employees. Hopefully, by keeping relevant programs we can help each other through this crisis.

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.