Learn With Us, week of July 7

Canceled: PESTS – For Garden’s Sake Nursery Saturday, July 13, 2019 10:00 – 11:00 am

For Garden’s Sake 9197 NC-751, Durham, NC 27713

Managing PESTS in your yard & garden. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a research-based process you can use to help solve pest problems while minimizing risks to people, useful critters and the environment. Topics covered will include identifying some common local pests and how you can use the 5 major principles and practices of IPM to help maintain a healthy and happy landscape.

Free/Registration required
To register, email ann@fgsnursery.com or call 919-484-9759

Insect Pests We’re Noticing Now – Cankerworms

If you’ve been outside in the past week or so, you’ve probably noticed little green inchworms. While my 9 year old daughter thinks they’re adorable, they are actually pests called cankerworms. Two species, spring and fall cankerworms, hatch in early spring. The larvae (those inchworms we’re seeing) feed on young leaves before dropping to the ground on a silk thread. The larvae then pupate in leaf litter through the summer. When the adults emerge, the females climb trees and deposit eggs on twigs. Fall cankerworm adults climb in October – November, while spring cankerworm adults emerge in early spring.

While these cankerworms will generally not kill a tree, they can defoliate enough branches to cause the tree to be unsightly, and could potentially weaken trees.

While control of these pests would be difficult and costly at this time of year, banding your trees and applying a sticky substance called Tanglefoot (TM) in the fall can trap the adult females and prevent them from laying eggs. This video from NCSU shows how to apply the bands to a tree. Workshops have been held in Durham during previous fall months, and will be publicized here when scheduled in the coming autumn.

Creepy Crawly Creatures

I’ve seen a lot of creepy crawly caterpillar-like creatures this week. Here are two you may have noticed.

Hornworms If you grow tomatoes, you have probably dealt with hornworms. These large, lime green larvae can do some serious damage to tomato plants and fruits. They also feed on tobacco, potato, eggplant, and pepper plants.


Since hornworms are large, it is easy (but perhaps time consuming) to check your tomato plants daily and remove the hornworms by hand. If you would prefer to use an insecticide, organic and synthetic formulations are available. For examples of these, please see http://pender.ces.ncsu.edu/2013/06/what-is-eating-my-tomato-plant/

If you find a hornworm that looks like this one,hornworm

Good News – for you, not the hornworm. This hornworm has been attacked by parasitic wasps. The young feed on the hornworm and will eventually hatch and search for more hornworms on which to lay their eggs. Leave parasitized hornworms on your plants for natural pest control.

The adult is known as a sphinx moth, which looks like this

sphinx moth

For more information on hornworms, see http://ipm.ncsu.edu/AG295/html/hornworms.htm. This link has more fantastic photos: http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/growingsmallfarms-hornworm/ Photos from ces.ncsu.edu except adult sphinx moth, from ext.colostate.edu

Orangestriped Oakworm

In August and September, you may notice these caterpillars on the ground.


If you have an oak tree, particularly a willow oak or pin oak, you may also notice damage like this. Leaves of this oak have been stripped except for their midribs.

oakworm damage

The oakworm moth (seen here) lays eggs on the undersides of leaves in June and July. Young caterpillars are green in color, but change to black with orange stripes as they grow. Once they are mature, they drop to the ground to find an underground spot to pupate. In late August/early September, they can be a common sight on sidewalks and streets.

Since damage occurs late in the season, control is usually not necessary. Trees can generally recover from damage when it happens in late summer or early fall. If you wish to use a chemical control, options can be found here: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note139/note139.html. Please note that it is probably too late to control this year’s population and that spraying large trees can be difficult and costly.

-Ann Barnes

Squash bugs

Squash bugs have been spotted in gardens around Durham. This pest attacks all members of the cucurbit family (which includes squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons). Scouting for and removing the eggs and insects is an environmentally friendly way of controlling the population and reducing the use of pesticides. Check your plants several times per week, looking at the undersides of leaves as well as the tops. Once you learn to recognize the pests, the job is fairly simple.

Squash bug eggs can be wiped or gently scraped from the leaf surfaces by hand. Destroy (squash) the eggs so they don’t hatch!

squash bug eggs

Squash bug nymphs: Just squash them. Wear gloves – they have a bad odor.

squash bug nymphs

Adults (yes, squash them too – with your gloves on)


Photos from Missouri Botanical Garden