General Conditions: Hot, hot, hot weather was the norm over the past two weeks with temperatures in the 80’s and 90’s. A drought watch remains in effect in many areas of Massachusetts, and many towns have issued some form of outdoor watering ban. Hanson received 0.92 inches of rain over the past two weeks which, while better than nothing, did not really make a huge difference. Soils were dry and powder-like to a 12-inch depth and need a good, slow-soaking rain. Unirrigated plants are showing drought-stress and unirrigated lawns are turning brown. Trees defoliated by gypsy caterpillars are struggling to put out a second flush of leaves. Remind clients to water those trees, if possible.
The following plants are in full bloom. Oxydendrum arboreum (Sourwood Tree), Albizia julibrissin, Clerodendrum trichotomum, Aesculus parviflora (bottlebrush buckeye), Weston hybrid azaleas, Hydrangea macrophylla, Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf Hydrangea), Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea), Hydrangea paniculata (Panicle Hydrangea), Clematis, roses, Rose-of-Sharon, Rubus odoratus, Echinacea sp., Persicaria polymorpha, Liatris spicata, Lysimachia clethroides, Lysimachia ciliata, Actaea (formerly Cimicifuga) racemosa, Perovskia atriplicifolia, Acanthus mollis, Asclepias tuberosa, Acanthus spinosus, daylilies, Hosta, Veronicastrum virginicum, Corydalis lutea, Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox), Platycodon grandiflorus, Shasta daisy, Deinanthe caerulea, Perovskia atriplicifolia, Nepeta sp., Echinops ritro (Globe Thistle), Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun’, Helianthus sp., Monarda didyma (Beebalm), Silphium sp., Lavender, Rudbeckia sp., Oriental lilies, Coreopsis verticillata, Astrantia major and Campanula sp. Summer annuals are filling the landscape with color.
Pests/Problems: TheGypsy moth season has ended. Many people are still asking “what were all those moths that were flying around from early July until this past week”? They were the male gypsy moths who the mated with the females, which then laid tan masses of eggs everywhere: underneath tree branches, on tree trunks, in leaves webbed together, on rocks, firewood, buildings, etc. After laying the eggs, the female moths died and the ground and sidewalks were littered with the dead bodies of the gypsy moth females. Next spring may prove to be an epic gypsy moth season if it does not rain May-June, and the Entomophaga maimaiga fungus is not activated. Please make a reminder note for next spring, to monitor susceptible trees, especially oaks and other trees damaged this year by gypsy moth caterpillars, and manage as needed. (Please see Tawny Simisky’s Insect Section of the Landscape Message for more information).
Continue to monitor susceptible deciduous host trees for Asian longhorned beetles; conifers are not a host tree: https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/asian-longhorned-beetle
Sunflower moth caterpillars (Homoeosoma electellum) were found in the flowers of Echinacea sp. and Heliopsis ‘Summer Sun’. Marigolds, Rudbeckia, Helianthus, Bidens, etc. are also hosts for this pest. Monitor the flowers for messy-looking, black-brown centers and dissect the flower. You will probably find 1- 3 small caterpillars inside.
The following insects remain active: Japanese, Oriental and Asiatic garden beetles, stinkbugs; spider mites; earwigs; slugs; snails; four-lined plant bug; aphids; leafhoppers; dog ticks; Taxus mealybug; juniper webworm; Asian longhorned beetle look-alikes, like the White-spotted Pine Sawyer and Graphisurus fasciatus (Longhorned Beetle); introduced pine sawfly; redheaded pine sawfly; Sharpshooter leafhopper (red-banded leafhopper); azalea, rhododendron and Andromeda (Pieris) lacebugs.
Deer tick nymphs remain active and it is this stage that is most often responsible for transmitting disease: https://ag.umass.edu/tick-borne-disease-diagnostics/tick-borne-diseases
Deer ticks are capable of transmitting several diseases, including Lyme disease. One of those diseases caused by the Powassan virus was recently found in tick samples in several towns on Cape Cod. Reportedly, this virus can be transmitted, once attached, in a “matter of minutes”. http://publichealth.yale.edu/news/archive/article.aspx?id=9147
Other towns in the Commonwealth may not be testing ticks for this disease but that does not mean that, that disease, and other diseases are not present in deer ticks in your area. The take-home message once again, is to take precautions and to use repellents and conduct tick checks often: http://ag.umass.edu/services/tick-borne-disease-diagnostics
Mosquitoes remain active and when working outdoors, the use of repellents is also advised to avoid bites from mosquitoes. The MA Dept. of Public Health has reported that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has been detected in a mosquito from Middleboro: http://www.enterprisenews.com/news/20160715/triple-e-virus-mosquito-detected-in-middleboro
While working, be on the lookout for wasps like the ground nesting yellow jackets: https://ag.umass.edu/fact-sheets/yellow-jackets
Also, be on the lookout, especially while pruning trees and shrubs, for the grayish, football shaped nests of the bald-faced hornets, which are actually wasps: http://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/baldfaced-hornet
Biting flies, including the very large black horseflies, are active: http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Tabanus_atratus
Queen Anne’s lace is in bloom and goldenrod is beginning bloom.
Deer have begun browsing hosta, garden phlox, cucumbers, and other botanical treats. A combination of scent repellents may be effective, if started early and followed up often. Many gardeners have also resorted to some form of electric, or 9-foot high, fence.
A good year for butterflies: swallowtail, monarch, mourning cloak, red admiral, and fritillary butterflies have been observed in Hanson and West Bridgewater MA. Hummingbirds and hummingbird moths are also active.