Diapause-and other winter insect survival strategies.

Diapause is an inactive state when animals do not develop any further.  Some insects use diapause to overwinter in cold climates.  Many insects also burrow done to shelter out of the way of wind, cold temperatures and other weather impacts.  Grubs and termites underground stay just below the frostline, yellowjacket and ant queens are under bark, logs and rocks.  Ladybugs and cluster flies are aggregated in groups in tight spaces like cracks in rocks or cracks in trees or in window frames or other components of your home.  In addition, many insects, such as ants, produce alcohols that act as antifreeze allowing them to survive temperatures below freezing.  As temperatures, humidity and sunlight all increase in the spring insects will start to venture out of their winter shelters to find food sources.

Ants are back!

Ants are back.  Starting about a week ago with little black ants showing up in kitchens and near fireplaces or furnaces, ants are starting to appear.  As insects wake up, they are hungry for food and start to forage close to their nesting sites.  Carpenter ants have already been reported and carpenter ants swarms will begin shortly as days continue to grow longer and we get intermittent warm days on top of increasing sunlight.  When they are sighted they are normally within several feet of the nest so your reports of ants this time of year through early spring will lead to great control of ants nesting in the structure.

Winter Feeder-Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Hemlock woolly adelgid egg masses produced in late winter often looks like snow between the needles of a hemlock.  The adelgid is a microscopic winter feeder of sap from hemlocks and can kill hemlocks if left untreated.  This small pest is a serious threat to hemlocks in the northeast causing hemlock decline and death.

Mid winter anti-desiccant applications soon!

Anti desiccant or anti transpirant means to keep from drying out or keep from transpiring.  This plant health care application is done in late November or early December for the first round, then a second time when we get a mid winter thaw.  We have just started the second round and will finish the second mid winter round next week.  This application is a wax material that is sprayed on the leaf tissue of evergreens, such as boxwood, pieris or rhododendrons.  The wax keeps the stomates from opening and water from leaving the leaf when there is little available ground moisture (due to it being frozen) to replace it.  Once moisture leaves the leave and is not replaced the leaf tissue may turn brown and look burned.

Winter Burn Boxwood

Meal moth larva exposed!

January resolutions include cleaning up & getting rid of old useless items in your life. In your kitchen cabinets remove expired food product. Meal moths love flour, baking mixes, nuts, teas, even potpourri. Photo is a jar of nuts with meal moth larva eating them.   It has gotten a little out of control since the nuts are covered in silken webbing. Use tight fitting screw on lids to minimize infestations and turn over your inventory (don’t save things you will never use!) to keep your cereals fresh.

Groundhog Day again!

Groundhog Day! Again! In New England groundhogs, or woodchucks, have 2 entries to the burrow, one exposed & one hidden by deck, shed, vegetation.  Typically customers call in the middle of summer when a groundhog is caught laying about in the sun or eating the vegetable garden.  There are a variety of control methods, the most successful

are to make your property unfriendly to groundhogs.  From pulling up the welcome mat by fencing your garden well and letting your dog patrol the area control measures then move up to trapping and removal by a licensed wildlife control agent.  Call us for help for do it yourself or for a trapper to consider using.

 

2-4-6 Mouse Kit

Our 2-4-6 Mouse Trap Kit includes 12 baited snap traps paired in 6 cardboard mouse trap boxes, plus 4 feet of copper for exclusion around your home and 2 pairs of biodegradable nitrile gloves.

Contents are:

2 pairs of gloves, use gloves when handling traps or dead rodents.

4 feet of copper for exclusion, use scissors to cut copper to appropriate size and fill holes from the outside of your home.  Don’t use copper against other metals, like iron gas lines.  Go around the outside with a mirror and flashlight and fill openings you locate.  Remember mice will go under doors that don’t have tight fitting sweeps and seals and that if you have a bulkhead you need a weather tight door with a threshold at the bottom of the bulkhead stairs.  The bulkhead door is not mouse proof.

 

6 pairs of baited snap traps in 6 boxes.  The traps have to be set by pulling back the hammer and securing it under the straight hooked bar by placing the straight hooked bar over the hammer and under the plastic catch. You will have to raise the trigger slightly off the wood to have the bar secure in the catch.  The F side of the trigger is for a firm setting, try to use the S side which is the soft setting.

Call to get your own, or to get support to set your traps, 617-964-4733.

 

Lawn & Plant Health Care Renewals

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Organic Lawn Care Service

Spring is coming.  Lawn and plant health care renewal notifications are now in your mailbox or email box.  Prepay discounts continue this year with a 5% off for full season prepayment made by March 21st.  For customers with aeration that prepay for the season by January 31st take another $50 off the aeration service.  If you want to update your program or have any questions just call us or email renewals@greenhow.com.

 

Tis the season to organize-Tips to help your house when get down to it.

Basement clutter-but at least on a metal wheeled rack using plastic bins.

New year and new resolutions.  Lose weight, don’t repeat the mistakes of last year, organize and stay organized!  If you are digging into your attic, basement or garage to finally get it organized and under control, please follow a few simple guidelines to help your house.

1)  Don’t store items in cardboard boxes or on unpainted wood shelves.  In New England the humid air we have 9 months a year will quickly create an environment where fungus will grow on cardboard and wood leading to odors and pests in your basement, attic or garage.

2)  Don’t store items against the wall of your basement.  Many home have a path from the bottom of the basement stairs to the laundry and hopefully the bulkhead or basement door.  This is because items are stored against the basement wall, then other items are stored in front of it, eventually filling the space with items you can’t get rid of.  Hopefully you have the courage to move on from what you don’t need and let Goodwill sell the stuff you don’t need to people who do.  If you don’t, or for what you have left, store those items off the ground, on metal racks with wheels (find them at ULINE) and – most importantly – away from the walls.  Make sure you can walk around the perimeter of your basement.  Leave enough space to walk around the basement walls.  This is important to allow air to flow around your stored items.  This allows you to inspect the perimeter for leaks that might occur such as from ice dams.  It keeps your stored items away from the cool foundation wall.  Your stone or concrete foundation wall stays cool even in the summer, causing condensation as warm humid air meets the cool wall, which will get moisture and fungus on your stored items leading to damage, odors and pests.

3)  When you are done take the time to add a fiberglass, weather tight exterior grade door to the bottom of your bulkhead stairs and a dehumidifier-both of which we can sell and install for you.

How Do Bugs Survive Winter?

How do bugs survive winter?

Like all animals, including people, insects must deal with surviving in cold temperatures.  Insects thrive in warm temperatures, but many species have adapted to survive in cold temperatures.  For soil dwelling insects such as grubs and termites, the insects go deeper into the soil, often found just below the frost line, avoiding the cold.  Other insects, like Monarch butterflies, migrate to warmer climates to survive the winter.  Others produce alcohol from sugars or proteins to help them avoid freezing.  The majority also hunker down in sheltered areas or seek out shelter under rocks and logs to survive the approaching cold weather by minimizing exposure and entering diapause which slows down their body processes to preserve energy.  Follow this link to an article from the Smithsonian magazine illustrates how insects overwinter in inhospitable environments.