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Your guide to Chesaeake Country's freshest produce and more!

Troubled by Bagworms?

Pick them and squish them. Carefully.

A visitor came to Upakrik Farm recently with an arborvitae branch containing at least 20 fully mature female bagworms. What can I spray them with? he asked. He appeared shocked when I told him nothing.
    He insisted that the bagworms had just appeared, for he had not seen them before. I told him that the bagworms had been feeding on his plant all summer long but that he had not noticed them.
    Impossible, he said. He walked by that plant every day so he would have seen them had they been present.

Assault Creeping Charlie and Woodland Strawberries

Now is the best time to control creeping Charlie and woodland strawberries in your lawn. You’ll have to treat invaded areas with chemicals now and for several years, as these nuisance species produce an abundance of seeds. Spot-treat with Try-Met, Speedzone or Ortho Weed-B-Gone according to the directions.

    Bagworms are not clearly visible during the summer months, because when they start feeding on the foliage in June, they are between 1/8- and 1/4-inch long and not easily identified unless you are trained to recognize them. If the infested plant is growing well, the ends of the branches grow faster than the bagworm can eat foliage. As shorter daylight hours slow plant growth, the bagworm finally eats its way to the end of the branch, thus giving it greater exposure.
    As the bagworm grows larger, it increases the size of its bag. The female bagworm produces a large bag between an inch and a half and two inches long, while the male bagworm produces a much smaller bag. When the bagworms stop feeding they pupate, a form of hibernation, within their bags making them immune to any insecticide you may apply.
    Thus, the only means of fall control is to pull them from the branches by hand. Aim the bottom of the bag away from you and not toward you, because as you squeeze, guts, eggs and feces are likely to squirt out through the bottom. You’ll be surprised to see the amount of goop that comes out of one of those female sacs.






Can Stump Sprouts Survive?

Q    I have several shoots sprouting from the stump of a white oak that died and was cut down a few years ago. I would like one of them to grow into a tree. There are about four shoots three to four feet tall and about a half to three-quarters inch in diameter. Should I cut down all except the biggest or just let nature take its course and see what happens?

–Arthur Mensch, West River

A    I suspect that it was a rather large white oak, and I am sorry for your loss. If the stump was larger than two inches in diameter, the sprout will grow for several years. The problem is that when the stump finally rots, the tree will fall. So I would not encourage growing the sprouts into a tree.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.