Thursday, May 24, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Amy Stone


Unwanted garden guests can be pests


Kelly Heidbreder


Do you have a few unwanted guests around the garden? I don’t mean the mosquitoes. I’m talking about little bugs that might be eating away at your vegetables or perennials.

I fill in for Meteorologist Blizzard Bill Spencer on 13ABC’s Morning Show and have fun with Jeff Smith and Sashem Brey.

Jeff recently posted on his Facebook page that he was having problems with one of the evergreen shrubs in his yard. It was covered in worms and has sent them to the big compost heap in the sky. 

Bagworm business
As many of the Facebook fans and I have shared with Jeff, those are bagworms. And they are not a pretty sight.

These little guys are called Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. It is a fancy name for bagworms. Red cedar, conifers, and other trees such as pine, spruce, cypress, juniper, willow, and arborvitae are some of their favorite meals.

And there can be thousands of eggs in each one of those bags hanging from the shrub in your yard. The reason Jeff started to notice them is that the eggs hatched in late May and June and the larvae started feasting on his evergreens. And that heavy feasting is what killed his shrubs.

Ohio State University Extension recommends using an insecticide in April or May before the eggs hatch. Look for name brands like Dursban, Mavrik, Pounce, Sevin, and Tempo with active ingredients that will work on larvae.

If you don’t like to use chemicals, you can pick the bags off the plants by hand before they hatch. You can also try using a spray that you use on the grubs and that needs to be applied in late June to hit the eggs before they hatch. 

Slugs and snails
I have also been getting a lot of emails from my readers who are having problems with slugs and a few snails cruising through their hosta beds.

With the heavy amount of rain, these mollusks are in heaven. They love damp, cool parts of the garden and they commonly set up household under your hosta beds or anywhere else they can seek shelter from the sun.

You can always tell when the slugs and snails have had dinner when you see a bunch of holes in the leaves. They usually stick to the foliage and just chew and chew. You also might see their silvery slimy trail left behind when they are on to their next dining experience.

You can easily pick them off your plants and drop them into soapy water or squash them under foot. They are repelled by copper. Matter of fact, they actually get shocked when they come in contact with it. So if you can attach strips of cooper to the wood edging in your flowerbeds, they won’t be able to slide over and get to your hostas.

Another way to keep them out is to sprinkle ashes from a wood fire around your bed or pick up some diatomaceous earth. It dehydrates them as they crawl across it and they usually don’t make it far. You can also find slug bait with iron phosphate to keep them out. 

Contact Kelly Heidbreder at

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