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Do plants get chicken pox? Help!!

Have you ever wondered what causes the spots on your salal bushes?

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Photo by  Linda Chalker-Scott

Landscape Plant Problems: A Pictorial Diagnostic Manual will help you identify all kinds of plant problems so that you can take steps to eliminate them. Vivid photos from real-life Northwest landscapes illustrate signs and symptoms of disease, insects and mites, and cultural or environmental problems as they occur on 78 popular ornamental and fruit-bearing plants. A special section shows problems common to a larger number of plants and signs of herbicide damage. The introduction provides five simple steps to identify and diagnose the cause of plant problems. Learn to use the clues WSU experts teach Master Gardeners.

You can order this spiral-bound manual (MISC0194) from WSU Publications. It sells for $35 plus tax and shipping. You may also be able to buy it at your County Extension office

Submitted by: Carrie R. Foss and Jenny Glass, June 22, 2015

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Organic fungicides

Plant diseases caused by fungal pathogens are very common in home gardens in the Pacific Northwest, particularly west of the Cascade Mountains. Spring rains combine with warm temperatures and tender new plant growth to create ideal conditions for fungi to thrive and spread. Common fungal diseases seen in home gardens include powdery mildew, downy mildews, rusts, and late blight. Fortunately, there are many products available to home gardeners for managing diseases caused by fungal pathogens on plants. This fact sheet describes organic fungicides and provides information on:
• which organic fungicides are legal and available to home gardeners,
• how effective these organic fungicides are, and
• whether the products have unintended effects on people or the surrounding environment

Copper sulfate

More information is available on this free, downloadable fact sheet: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS128E/FS128E.pdf

Submitted by: Linda Chalker-Scott, May 15, 2015
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A Beneficial Wasp in the Wrong Place, Wrong Time Becomes a Pest

As a newcomer to our home landscapes in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), the European paper wasp, Polistes dominula, has a reputation as both a beneficial predator and a pest. The European paper wasp is a relatively tame wasp that forages within landscape plants in search of leaf-feeding caterpillars and other insect prey. However, it is also a nuisance pest that will sting people who accidentally disturb or threaten it or its nest.

Paper wasp

In early spring, homeowners may remove wasp nests by knocking them down with a long broom, pole, or strong stream of water from a hose. This is the best time to remove a nest because only a single female will be guarding it. It may take repeated removal of each nest to discourage the wasps from replacing it. It is important to wear gloves and protective clothing to reduce any risk of getting stung, and although the sting is mild, it will get your attention.

For more information, go to The European Paper Wasp  FS152E located at http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS152E/FS152E.pdf.

Submitted by: Mike Bush and Todd Murray, March 31, 2015

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Acetic acid/vinegar as pesticide ingredients

Acetic acid is one of the few chemicals with two common names. Both depend upon its concentration. “Vinegar” means concentrations up to 8%. “Acetic acid” means concentrations higher than 8%. When the concentration is low enough to be called vinegar, it is a food product. When the concentration is high enough to be called acetic acid, and it is used to kill weeds, it is a pesticide. The point to remember with acetic acid is that high concentrations are more effective on woody perennial weeds, while low concentrations will work effectively only on very young weed seedlings.

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For more information on using acetic acid/vinegar as a pesticide, see WSU FS161E.

Submitted by: Catherine Daniels, March 9, 2015

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Backyard Cherries without the Cherry Maggots

Before planting a backyard cherry tree, homeowners should consider the challenge of pest management, especially management of the western cherry fruit fly (WCFF).

Fruit infested with the cherry fruit fly larvae, known as maggots, may have a dimpled appearance, but the maggots can still be difficult to detect when examining the surface of the fruit. However, as the maggots mature, they break the surface of the cherry and open a hole in order to breathe and exit the fruit.

cherry maggot
Sweet cherry infested with cherry maggot.  Photo by Mike Bush, WSU Extension.

There are relatively few proven strategies that homeowners can use to manage this pest. The primary non-chemical strategy to manage WCFF is to pick off every cherry from the tree at harvest. WCFF management will be considerably easier for homeowners who plant fruit trees grafted to dwarfing rootstocks. For a list of pesticides (including organic products), homeowners can access the WSU Hortsense website at http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/ .

Pruned cherry
Backyard sweet cherry skillfully and properly trained/pruned to a 10-foot height.  Photo by Fred Staloch, WSU Master Gardener volunteer.

For more information on organic management of tree fruit pests see the WSU Extension manual FS125E- The Western Cherry Fruit Fly and Your Backyard Cherry Tree by Michael Bush and Marianne Ophardt on-line at http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS125E/FS125E.pdf

Submitted by: Mike Bush, February 9, 2015
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What is making tunnels in my yard?

There are a number of animals that can cause damage to lawns, gardens and crops in Washington through their tunneling habits. The most common pests are moles, voles, gophers and rats. Ground squirrels in eastern Washington and chipmunks statewide also burrow but are active during the day and so are usually easy to visually identify…but what about those diggers you never see? The new WSU Extension Fact Sheet, “What is Tunneling in My Yard” will help you identify the guilty parties so you can plan your management strategy.

Fig6molehill2012 Fig7voleholeMtVernon

For more information please see What is Tunneling in My Yard? FS143E

Posted by: Dave Pehling, September 11, 2014
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Protect your Cherries and Berries from SWD!

Drosophila suzukii, commonly known as Spotted Wing Drosophila or SWD, is of concern to home gardeners and commercial producers. It was first detected in the continental US in California in 2008 and quickly spread up the coast into Canada and across the country. There are over 2,000 native drosophila flies in the US but SWD is unique in that it lays eggs inside ripening fruit as well as rotting fruit. The maggots hatch from these eggs and feed inside fruit, rendering it inedible.

SWD
Fig. 1. SWD larva in cherry. WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center

It is considered a serious threat to fruit and berry crops including cherry, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry and some peach varieties. There may be several generations of SWD produced during the growing season, which makes this pest particularly difficult to manage, especially on crops ripening after July. Preventing the spread of SWD in home gardens can ensure the production of homegrown fruits and berries and reduce the threat it poses to commercial producers of fruits and berries.
For information on detecting and managing this pest, see:
Spotted Wing Drosophila (SWD) Monitoring, Identifying, and Fruit Sampling. FS049E and WSU Hortsense,

Submitted by: Dave Pehling, June 26, 2014

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Protect your apples from codling moth this season!

If you grow apples, the codling moth will come! The larva of this common pest, also known as “the worm in the apple,” directly impacts the eating quality of apples across the state of Washington. When left unmanaged in backyard trees, the codling moth can damage as much as 80 to 95 percent of the fruit—making it “wormy” and unfit to eat.

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Figure 1) Codling moth is about 3/8 inch-long; one female moth will lay dozens of eggs. When eggs hatch, larvae bore directly to the fruit’s core. Photo Credits: Michael Bush, WSU Extension

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Figure 2) Apple fruit with signs of codling moth infestation; look for the conspicuous piles of brown granular excrement plugging the entrance hole on the surface of the apple. Photo Credits: Michael Bush, WSU Extension

Washington homeowners must protect their apple or pear fruit from two, or sometimes three (in the warmer regions of the state) generations of codling moth each year. The adult moths fly during warm evenings, with peak activity in May, July, and late August. The best means of protecting backyard fruit trees from codling moth infestation is an integrated pest management (IPM) program utilizing several control strategies.

Management Strategies:

1) Plant your fruit trees on dwarfing or semi-dwarfing rootstocks.
2) Scout your fruit (weekly) from late May to apple harvest time for signs of codling moth larvae infestation. Pick off infested fruit and crush to kill larvae protected inside the fruit.
3) When the fruit is less than 1 inch in diameter (early to mid-May), individually bag each fruit left on the tree. Standard paper bags or commercially available apple bags can be used.

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Figure 3) Backyard apple tree with commercially available apple bags.

4) If pesticides are used, they must be applied during adult moth activity so that the pesticide covers the fruit surface before the eggs hatch. Pesticide sprays should start 17 to 21 days after full bloom (about 10 days after most of the flower petals drop from the tree) to target the newly hatched larvae before they bore into the fruit. For a list of effective pesticides used to manage codling moth, homeowners can contact their local WSU Extension office or visit the WSU Hortsense website.

For more information, see Codling Moth and Your Backyard Fruit Tree.

Submitted by: Michael Bush & Marianne Ophardt, May 23, 2014

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Join the WSU Garden Team’s Pestsightings Listserv

Did you know that, as a complement to the Washington State University Gardening Blog, the WSU Extension Gardening Team has also developed pest sightings LISTSERV? The LISTSERV will alert you to new pest information and other major pest news.

Japanese beetle
Japanese beetle

While we will stick to home and garden insects, diseases, weeds and vermin, the list may also interest Agriculture/Horticulture/Natural Resource researchers, educators and Master Gardeners.

To join, visit the following link:
http://lyris.cahe.wsu.edu/read/all_forums/subscribe?name=pestsightings-hg&page=all_forums or email: pestsightings-hg@lyris.cahnrs.wsu.edu with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

Why would you want to join yet another WSU LISTSERV? Here’s a sample of recent notices:

  • Japanese beetle news
  • Watch for mountain ash sawfly
  • Anthidium manicatum found in Granite Falls
  • Be on the lookout for brown marmorated stink bugs
  • Springtails are aggregating, etc.

Short and to the point, news you can use.

Feel free to contact Todd Murray (tmurray@wsu.edu) with any questions.

Submitted by: Todd Murray, April 25, 2014
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How to Recognize and Eradicate Bed Bugs

Whether it is spring fever or the opening of the Master Gardener Clinic in Yakima County, March and April tends to bring out the worst in bed bug sightings.  Since bed bugs are household pests, there should be little or no seasonality to bed bug abundance.

The saying “sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” is not just a quaint bedtime rhyme, but also a reminder that bed bugs do exist, and they require human blood meals to survive and provide for their offspring. In today’s highly mobile society, bed bugs have reestablished themselves as household pests. Bed bugs are not known to transmit human diseases, but they can cause skin welts, local inflammation, and contribute to insomnia.

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Bedbug getting up close and personal with an Extension Entomologist (Photo Credit: Michael Bush)

Bed bugs have been found in homes, apartments, rental units, and even hotels throughout Washington with increasing frequency. Cimex lectularius is the most common species that feed on humans.

Management Strategies:

1) Avoid introducing bed bugs into your home. Homeowners should not acquire second-hand mattresses and upholstered furniture without first quarantining them.

2) Remove or replace any infested furniture, including mattresses, box springs, couches, and upholstered chairs, whenever possible.

3) Clean and vacuum furniture and mattresses and wash bedding weekly. This will reduce, although not eliminate, bed bug infestations.

4) Establish a barrier or space between the bed and the floor to further discourage bed bugs from climbing onto the bed (remember bed bugs are wingless and cannot fly).

5) Obtain pesticides labeled for indoor use against bed bugs. Look for an annually revised listing of these products on the WSU Pestsense website at http://pep.wsu.edu/pestsense/.

6) Inspect sleeping areas in rooms adjacent to the infested area since these surprisingly mobile, yet wingless, bugs can move into surrounding areas.

The incidence of bed bugs is on the rise in North America, so precautions to avoid introducing them into your home are prudent. Bring any bugs found during a home inspection or captured on sticky traps or cards to your local Extension office for identification. While there are management strategies that homeowners can take to reduce the incidence of bed bugs in an infested household, the best management strategy is to cooperate with a local pest control professional to eradicate the problem.

For more information on Bed Bugs: Recognition and Management go to http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/FS070E/FS070E.pdf

Submitted by: Michael Bush, April 8, 2014
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