Assassin Bug Nymphs

Insects belonging to the Hemipteran family Reduviidae are collectively known as assassin bugs.  The family includes over 160 species in North America and all are meat eaters.  The common name for the family clearly describes how these stealthy hunters make a living.  The bugs are equipped with piercing-sucking mouthparts that are used to inject paralyzing and pre-digestive enzymes into their prey.  They then suck the essence-of-insect from their hapless victims.

 

Assassin bugs pass through three developmental stages:  eggs, nymphs, and adults.  This is known as "incomplete...

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Joe Boggs

Japanese Beetles Making a Comeback

I have received numerous reports and pictures from southern and central Ohio of heavy localized Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica) populations.  Infestations are not widespread; however, where they are occurring beetles are being found in high numbers feeding on a wide range of hosts from favorite foods such wild grape, linden trees, and roses to some unusual hosts such as oak.  Dan Potter (Department of Entomology, University of Kentucky) has also reported high populations in Lexington, KY.

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Joe Boggs

Bagworms on Deciduous Trees

Common bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) populations crashed a few years ago in Ohio with this general defoliator becoming a rare find.  This changed last season with significant localized populations observed in many areas of the state and the trend appears to be continuing this season.  I've recently found several heavy infestations in southern Ohio with significant damage now becoming very evident.

 

It is a common misconception that bagworms only eat evergreens; however, the caterpillars can feed on over 130 different species of plants including a wide...

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Joe Boggs

I Love Rust: Sometimes

Rust diseases of plants may of course be devastating, from black stem rust of wheat which contributed to famine after World War I to cedar apple rusts which must be controlled by orchardists and (sometimes) landscapers today. Yet, it must be admitted, they are fascinating. They can be autoecious (occurring on only one host plant) such as may-apple rust commonly seen in spring woodlands, but often they must complete their life cycles on wildly different hosts, such as wheat & barberry, juniper & apple.

 

About a month ago I came upon a rust disease I had not...

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Jim Chatfield

Imported Willow Leaf Beetle: Look for 2nd Generation Larvae

Second generation larvae of the imported willow leaf beetles (Plagiodera versicolora) are munching the leaves of wild and cultivated willows in southwest Ohio.  This native of northern Europe was first found in the U.S. in 1915.  Since that time, it has become well established throughout most of the eastern and Midwestern states.  This beetle has a history of periodically achieving population outbreak densities and causing significant defoliation of its namesake host in Ohio.

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Joe Boggs

O Rose Thou Art Sick!

With apologies to William Blake and his 1794 publication of the deep-meaning “The Sick Rose” poem, it occurred to me that I was indeed deliberately trying to weaken the pictured rose (multiflora) by mowing in my back lot and continually chopping off the terminal shoot of this rose. In my case, I see this mowing as a metaphor for typically improper topping that I will negatively highlight in my pruning talk at the Cultivate 2016 program a week hence. For trees, top not, you clod-loppers: it releases adjacent buds resulting in hormonal imbalance and tufted, weak growth.

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Jim Chatfield

Name This Tree

Probably a decade ago, I brought home a containerized tree, probably from a Secrest Arboretum Plant Discovery Day sale, perhaps as a gift from a friend. It was neglected in its container at the side of our house in northeast Ohio until my wife elbowed me into planting it on a day with little time and I stuck it a few feet away near some old spruce trees. I mostly forgot about it, maybe once a year wondering if this was a volunteer that had sprouted up or if I had planted it, until last year, at about 15 feet tall (yes, I am that unobservant and lazy), when I noticed this tree’s yellow...

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Jim Chatfield
Wanted: Butterfly Weed chatfield.1 Sun, 07/03/2016 - 18:11

This native 1- to 3-foot herbaceous perennial, Asclepias tuberosa (not to be confused with butterfly bush, Buddleia) provides that fairly uncommon sight along roadsides, in meadows and, increasingly in gardens – a bright orange flower. This caught my eye so dramatically decades ago that I had to pull over while driving an interstate highway in Iowa, against the increasingly urgent verbotens of the Herr Professor in the passenger seat. Just had to take a look.

 

It is sometimes called orange milkweed, and Asclepias is a genus with many species that...

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Jim Chatfield

The Beringian Land Bridge and the Sumac Gall Aphid

The bladder-like galls produced the Sumac Gall Aphid (Melaphis rhois) are just beginning to develop on the leaflet midveins of its namesake host in southwest Ohio.  The galls are currently light green and so small they may be difficult to detect.  However, as the season progresses, the galls will eventually become more evident growing to 1/2 - 1" in length and becoming variegated with areas that are greenish-white bounded by areas that are mottled reddish-pink.

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Joe Boggs

Grape Phylloxera

Every time I see the bristly, lumpy round galls produced by the grape phylloxera (Daktulosphaira vitifoliae) on the lower leaf surfaces of wild grape (Vitis spp.), I'm reminded of the story of how an American saved the French (and European) wine industry.  Some may consider it a return on the favor for the French making it possible for us to have something to celebrate on the 4th of July.

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Joe Boggs