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Don't neglect your garden in the fall

October 17, 2009|By ROBERT KESSLER / Special to The Herald-Mail

As we have mentioned here before, fall is a good time to control some of our problem weeds in our lawns and yards. We can use their storage of carbohydrates for the winter to convey herbicides to their roots and storage structures. In the fall the plants will more actively transport sugars and carbohydrates to their storage sites so they have food for the winter and to start growing in the spring.

Fall applications of 2, 4-D materials that contain dicamba will be very effective in controlling dandelion, clover, plantains and other broadleaf weeds. If you have a patch of Canadian thistle, 2, 4-D material would work well on them at this time of year. Poison ivy can be controlled with an application of glyphosate (Roundup) to the leaves of the plant before frost.

Tree-of-heaven can be controlled in the fall or winter by using a hatchet and making cuts in the bark of the trunk about six inches from the ground and applying full strength glyphosate. If you're not sure of what the Tree of Heaven looks like, most people think it is sumac. Look it up or just look at the trees along Interstate 81. Most of them are Tree of Heaven. It is very invasive, so it should be controlled.

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For more information, call 717-263-9226 or go to FranklinCountyMGS.Blogspot.com .

European hornet

If you think you have seen an extra large yellow jacket in your yard, say hello to the European hornet, a large aggressive yellow jacket. This has seemed to have been a good year for them.

The European hornet is in the same family as other yellow jackets. It is about twice as big as the domestic yellow jacket - as long as 1 1/4 inches long. They have a reddish brown head and black-and-yellow markings on their abdomen.

European hornets like to build their nests in hollow trees, but will also build nests in attics, hollow walls, bird houses and many other places that they find suitable. The nests are paper-like and covered with a thick brown layer of wood fibers.

The nest is started in the spring by an overwintering queen. Once the first brood becomes adults, they care for the nest and she lays eggs. The colony can grow to have several hundred workers.

The European hornet is a beneficial insect that feeds on insects such as flies, yellow jackets and caterpillars. The problem is that it can build its nest too close to our outdoor space and the kids' play area.

The hornet can fly at night and is attracted to lights. It can strip bark from your ornamental plants using the bark to build its nest. It can feed on ripe fruit on fruit trees. We collected examples recently of apples that were hollowed out by the European hornet.

The European hornet is not likely to attack you unless you invade its space or disturb its feeding. If you haven't encountered a problem yet this year, then you don't need to worry about them. They will die soon when we get into cold weather. A queen will overwinter and start over again next year.

For more information, call 717-263-9226 or go to FranklinCountyMGS.Blogspot.com .

Bob Kessler specializes in consumer horticulture and energy for Penn State University. He can be reached weekdays at 717-263-9226 or by e-mail at rxk4@psu.edu .

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