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Landscape Message: Jun 19, 2015

Jun 19, 2015

UMass Extension's Landscape Message is an educational newsletter intended to inform and guide Green Industry professionals in the management of our collective landscape. Scouts compile and record environmental and phenological data for locations throughout Massachusetts to aid in the monitoring of plant and pest development, the planning of management strategies, and the creation of site-specific records for future reference.  Detailed reports from Extension specialists on growing conditions, pest activity, and cultural practices for the management of woody ornamentals, trees, and turf are regular features. UMass Extension has updated the following issue to provide timely management information and the latest regional news and environmental data.

The Landscape Message will be updated weekly April through June. The next message will be available on June 26. To receive immediate notification when the next Landscape Message update is posted, be sure to join our e-mail list.

Scouting Information by Region

Regional Notes

Cape Cod Region (Barnstable)

General Conditions: This reporting period has seen sunny, cool days with cool nights. The extended dry weather was finally broken on Monday, June 15, when a day-long light rain fell. In Marstons Mills, 0.75” was recorded in the rain gauge; amounts varied by town with Barnstable village receiving 0.52”, but all areas of the Cape received some much needed precipitation. Milder weather is on the way but the chances of more rain are at a somewhat low probability. The next best chance of rain may be the when the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill come through the area next week. Stella D’Oro daylilies have begun to bloom, along with wild Ox-eye daisy and Coreopsis. Multiflora rose is in full bloom. Lawns continue to grow well under irrigation and mowing season is in full swing.  Pests/Problems: Winter moth caterpillar feeding is over for this year but Gypsy moth caterpillars continue to feed and grow. If defoliation appears to be continuing in your area, then Gypsy moth caterpillars are the likely culprits. They are currently a range of sizes, from ¾” to an inch long and ¼” wide down to ½” long with the width of a thread. Oak is their primary food but in areas where winter moth was high, little is in the way of oak foliage and they have been observed feeding on white pine. While not at historic outbreak numbers, they certainly are numerous in many areas of the Cape. The Mustard Sallow caterpillar has been observed feeding on both witch hazel and Corylopsis. These light yellow and white caterpillars can be seen curled up on the undersurface of the foliage. Four Lined Plant bug feeding damage has been seen on the foliage of several perennials. Both nymphs and adults are active. Rose slug sawfly larvae continue to skeletonize the foliage of roses. Aphids, leafhoppers, and spittlebugs are active. Earwigs are skeletonizing foliage of newly planted annuals. Cutworms are active, along with slugs and snails.  Some diseases are beginning to show up in the landscape. With the recent rain, galls of the cedar apple rust fungus on eastern red cedar are now visible. Black spot of rose has been observed, along with powdery mildew of lilac, phlox, and beebalm. Azalea gall is beginning to sporulate, causing the galls to become a greyish-white color. Prune them out and dispose of them.  For those with clients who have vegetable gardens, insect activity includes Colorado potato beetle, Asparagus beetle, both spotted and checkered, Imported cabbage worm, cutworms, and flea beetles.  Keep checking for deer tick nymphs after working outdoors. Mosquito populations continue to be high and vicious!

Southeast Region (Hanson)

General Conditions: This past week started out warm and sunny and changed to cooler with temperatures in the 50’s and overcast skies and a bit of rain; Hanson received 0.68 inches of rain and more is needed. Remind clients to water newly planted or transplanted plant material or trees that were defoliated by caterpillars. Sinocalycanthus chinensis, Northern catalpa, Styrax japonicus, Stewartia rostrata, Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay magnolia), Liriodendron tulipifera (Tuliptree), Cornus kousa, Indigofera sp., Ligustrum spp. (Privet), Potentilla fruticosa, Roses, Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria), Lonicera sempervirens, Rosa rugosa, Clematis sp., Stephanandra incisa ‘Crispa’, Hypericum androsaemum ‘Mrs. Gladis Brabazon’, Spiraea sp., Philadelphus coronarius (Sweet Mockorange), Deutzia sp., Weston hybrid azaleas, Staghorn sumac, Coreopsis sp., Oenothera sp., Allium, Nepeta sp., Valeriana officinalis (Garden Heliotrope), Tradescantia, Persicaria polymorpha, Lamium, Foxgloves, Stella D’Oro and other early daylilies, Anemone canadensis, Aruncus dioicus, Corydalis lutea, Salvia ‘May Night’, Peonies, Dianthus sp., Arisaema ringens, Dicentra eximia (Fringed Bleeding Heart), Polygonum bistorta ‘Superbum’ and Alchemilla mollis are in full bloom. Beautybush, Rhododendrons, Calycanthus, Thalictrum aquilegifolium, Amsonia sp., Baptisia australis and Baptisia hybrids are ending bloom. Cotinus obovatus (American Smoketree) and Cotinus coggygria (European Smokebush) are past bloom but they are now producing plume-like hairs (that form on the sterile flowers) which provide the landscape with their colorful “smoke”.  Pests/Problems: As reported last week, trees defoliated by winter moth are starting to re-foliate, however, many trees still appear to be stripped of their leaves. Not all that damage should, perhaps, be attributed to winter moth which stopped feeding and pupated at the end of May. In many areas, Gypsy moth caterpillars have come in and finished what winter moth caterpillars started. A resident from Carver MA reported that his trees are covered with gypsy moth caterpillars and they are feeding on white oak, red oak, wisteria, Japanese white pine, river birch and raspberry foliage. In Hanson, in some areas, gypsy moth caterpillars are feeding, not only on oak, but also on white pine and maple. The caterpillars range in size from 1.5-2.5 inches and the larger ones are probably 5th instar and should begin pupating soon. One person reported having experienced an irritating skin rash on his arm and neck, when gypsy moth caterpillars dropped down on him. The rash was caused by the caterpillar's urticating hairs. This experience usually happens earlier, when the caterpillars are small, and are in the ballooning stage. It was a dry spring, not really conducive to the entomopathogenic (insect killing) fungus Entomophaga maimaiga, which can work to keep gypsy moth caterpillars in low numbers. Hopefully, the recent rain may produce conditions that enhance production of Entomophaga maimaiga. To quote the late and great UMass Entomologist, Bob Childs, “observing dead gypsy moth caterpillars that are hanging head-down on the trunks of host trees is a good indicator that this fungus has been effective”. For more information on Entomophaga maimaiga, go to: Staff at Dr. Joe Elkinton’s UMass lab report that winter moth numbers were up this year, especially along the coastal areas and Cape Cod. However, the staff also reported that Gypsy moth caterpillars heavily outnumbered winter moth caterpillars at Nickerson State Park, Brewster MA. Gypsy moth caterpillars were also in high numbers at Wompatuck State park in Hingham, MA. Asiatic garden beetles have emerged. These rusty-brown beetles are smaller than Japanese beetles and feed at night on a wide range of plant material. Earwigs have also started to emerge and are feeding on plant material. Small light brown larvae were found in the flowers and flower buds of marigolds. The flowers looked rain-damaged and messy. When the flowers were dissected, the small caterpillars were found inside. The caterpillars appear very similar to caterpillars of the sunflower moth (Homoeosoma electellum) which has been a pest, in previous years, of Echinacea, Helianthus and Heliopsis.  The sunflower moth is found mostly on plants in the Compositae (Asteraceae) family and includes marigolds. White-spotted Pine Sawyer (Asian longhorned beetle look-alike) has emerged. The golden tortoise beetle, a small iridescent beetle, is feeding on sweet potato vines riddling the foliage with small holes. Monitor rhododendrons, azaleas and Pieris for lacebugs, especially in sunny locations. Monitor perennial Hibiscus foliage for Hibiscus sawfly larvae. These small, pale green, caterpillar-like pests feed on the undersides of Hibiscus leaves and the damage resembles Swiss cheese. Eventually, unless managed, the sawflies will feed down to the mid-veins. Remember that Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)  does not work on sawfly larvae. White pine terminals are turning brown and this is very often a symptom of white pine weevil damage that occurred earlier in the season. If possible and needed, prune out and destroy the dead terminal; it is too late for an insecticide treatment. The following insects are active: Imported willowleaf beetles, oriental beetles, Hemlock woolly adelgid, cottony camellia scale on Taxus, Fletcher’s Scale on Taxus, Taxus mealybug, aphids, slugs, snails, stink bugs, Lysimachia sawfly, four-lined plant bugs, leafhoppers, lily leaf beetle (adults & larvae), earwigs, wasps, green fruitworm caterpillars, pine spittlebugs, azalea whitefly, hornets, deer flies, black flies, horse flies, deer and dog ticks. Roseslug sawfly activity has ended. Powdery mildew was observed on Cornus florida. Remove the white spore-covered Azalea leaf galls (Exobasidium vaccinii) from deciduous azaleas and place them in the trash. The following weeds are in bloom: Multiflora rose, Achillea, oxeye daisy, clover, fleabane and Queen-Anne’s-lace. Mosquitoes continue to be numerous.

North Shore Region (Beverly)

General Conditions: Long Hill received approximately 0.36 inches of rainfall and 128 growing degree days during this reporting period. There is lush growth and lawns and gardens are looking good as a result of periodic rain showers during this period. Trees and shrubs are putting on new growth. Woody plants seen in bloom include: Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Japanese tree lilac (Syringa reticulata), Peking tree lilac (Syringa pekinensis), Stewartia (Stewartia rostrata), Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla), Privet (Ligustrum spp.), Kousa Dogwood (Cornus Kousa), Lemoine Deutzia (Deutzia lemoinei), Slender Deutzia (Deutzia gracilis), Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus), Beautybush (Kolkwitzia amabilis), and Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia). Herbaceous plants in bloom include: Peonies (Paeonia sp.), Redleaf rose (Rosa glauca), Baptisia (Baptisia australis), Nepeta (Nepeta sp.), Geranium (Pelargonium spp.), Aruncus (Aruncus dioicus), Corydalis (Corydalis lutea), Allium (Allium sp.) and Ox-eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare).  Pests/Problems: Hemlock woolly adelgid are active on infested trees. Mosquitoes and ticks are still active. Protect yourself with insect repellent when working outdoors especially at dawn and at dusk. Multiflora roses (Rosa multiflora ) continue to bloom and are easy to identify

East Region (Boston)

General Conditions: Fluctuating temperatures have been the trend over the previous seven days; we started out the week with four days of highs in the 80’s before temperatures dropped to 76º F on Sunday. Monday we received a full day of rain and a high of 64º F. The following day, temperatures hit 75º F. Over the last week high temperatures averaged 79º F while low temperatures averaged 60º F, slightly above average for this year. Rain accumulation on June 15th amounted to 0.56 inches. We gained 138 GGDs over the last week bringing us up to 664.5 GDDs on the year. The landscape has greened up considerably given these favorable conditions. May mid-season plants are flowering: Cladrastis kentukea (yellowwood), Cotinus coggygria (common smokebush), Kolkwitzia amabilis (beautybush), Lonicera sempirvirens (trumpet honeysuckle), Magnolia macrophylla (bigleaf magnolia), Magnolia sieboldii (Oyama magnolia), Philadelphus coronarius (sweet mock orange), Potentilla fruiticosa (potentilla), many Rosa spp. (rose), Sambucus canadensis (American elderberry), Spiraea spp. (spirea), Styrax confusus (styrax), Syringa reticulata (Japanese tree lilac), and Viburnum dentatum (arrowwood viburnum). Itea virginica (sweetspire) is in full bloom and busy with pollinators. Herbaceous plants in bloom include: Aegopodium podagraria (bishop's weed), Ajuga reptans (bugleweed), Allium giganteum (giant onion), Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas blue star), Aruncus dioicus (goat's beard), Astilbe spp. (false spirea), Clematis recta 'Purpurea' (clematis), Clematis spp. (clematis), Geranium maculatum (wild geranium), Hemerocallis 'Stella D'Oro' (daylily), Heuchera spp. (coral bells), Iris germanica (bearded iris), Leucanthemum sp. (shasta daisy), Lamium sp. (dead nettle), Lilium spp. (lily), Nepeta spp. (catmint), Paeonia spp. (peony), Salvia spp. (salvia), Tradescantia sp. (spiderwort), and Veronica spp. (speedwell). The unusual and hard to find in the trade, ericaceous Zenobia pulverulenta (dusty zenobia), native to the coastal areas of Virginia and the Carolinas is in full bloom.  Pests/Problems: Despite the 0.56 inches of precipitation we received most soils remain relatively dry. Unwanted vegetation continues to flourish. Aegopodium sp. (bishops weed) is flowering. Euonymus fortunei (climbing euonymus, wintercreeper) is flowering as it climbs nearby trees. Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade) is going to seed. Many fungal diseases are prevalent on conifers and rosaceous plants. Scale on susceptible plants are approaching their crawler stages. Evidence of the past spring winter moth damage has become more apparent on susceptible deciduous plants; many of these plants are just beginning to refoliate. Gypsy moth can be found in the landscape but is not causing any major damage at this time.

Metro West (Acton)

General Conditions: The area gained 123 GDD during this recording period and received 0.53"of rain. The average rainfall for the month of June is 3.93" and so far, we have received 2.74" of rain for the month. Woody plants seen in bloom this past week are Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa), Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood), Cornus kousa (Kousa Dogwood), C. sericea (Redosier Dogwood), Cotinus coggygria (Common Smokebush), Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel), Kolkwitzia amabilis (Beautybush), Ligustrum spp. (Privet), Philadelphus coronarius (Sweet Mock Orange), Potentilla fruiticosa (Potentilla), P. tridentata (Cinquefoil), Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac), Rosa rugosa (Rugosa Rose), R. 'Knockout' (The Knockout family of Roses), Rosa spp. (Rose), Sambucus canadensis (American Elderberry), Spirea japonica 'Alpina' (Daphne Spirea), Spiraea spp. (Spirea), Syringa reticulata (Japanese Tree Lilac), Viburnum dentatum (Arrowwood Viburnum), and Weigela florida (Old Fashioned Weigela). Woody vines in bloom are: Clematis spp. (Clematis) and Lonicera sempirvirens (Trumpet Honeysuckle). Contributing even more color and interest to the landscape are some flowering herbaceous plants including: Achillea millefolium (Yarrow), Ajuga reptans (Bugleweed), Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), Allium giganteum (Giant Onion), A. schoenoprasum (Chives), Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas Blue Star), Aruncus dioicus (Goat's Beard), Astilbe spp. (False spirea), Campanula persicifolia (Peach-leafed Bell Flower), C. takesiman 'Elizabeth' (Bellflower), Centaurea montana (Cornflower), Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold), Clematis recta 'Purpurea' (Clematis), Coreopsis sp. (Tickseed), Dianthus deltoides (Maiden Pink), Filipendula sp. (Meadow Sweet), Geranium cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' and 'Cambridge' (Hardy Cranesbill), G. maculatum (Wild Geranium), G. macrorrhizum (Bigroot Geranium), G. sanguineum (Cranesbill Geranium), Hemerocallis 'Stella D'Oro' (Daylily) and H. spp. (early-mid blooming Daylily), Heuchera spp. (Coral Bells), Hosta spp. (Plantain Lily), Iris germanica (Bearded Iris), I. psuedacorus (Yellow Flag iris), I. versicolor (Blue Flag Iris), I. sibirica (Siberian Iris), Leucanthemum sp. (Shasta Daisy), Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion), Nepeta spp. (Ornamental Catmint), Oenothera macrocarpa (Ozark Sundrops), Paeonia spp. (Peony), Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower), Polemonium reptans (Jacob's Ladder), Salvia nemerosa (Salvia), Saponaria ocymoides (Rock Soapwort), Thymus praecox (Thyme), Tradescantia sp. (Spiderwort), and Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue' (Speedwell).  Pests/Problems: Pine Sawyer Beetles have recently emerged and are very often confused with the Asian Longhorned Beetle but can be distinguished by its single white dot found at the base of its wing cover. Rosa multiflora continues to bloom and is very easy to detect because of its prolific white flowers and can be seen growing in and amongst other trees and shrubs. Aegopodium podagraria (Goutweed), another invasive weed is in full bloom.

Central Region (Boylston)

General Conditions: Another variable reporting period this week with a few warm, humid, summerlike days interspersed with a couple of cool, wet days. Many plants are now blooming including Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), Northern Catalpa (C. speciosa), Knockout Roses, Clematis cultivars, Syringa reticulata and S. pekinensis, Zenobia pulverulenta, Sinocalycanthus hybrids and cultivars, Rosa rugosa, Nepeta sp., Peonies (Paeonia sp.), Hardy Geraniums, perennial Salvia, Spiraea, Persicaria polymorpha, Tanacetum macrophyllum, Yarrow (Achillea cultivars), Columbine (Aquilegia sp.), Goat’s Beard (Aruncus dioicus), Tanacetum parthenium, Verbscum chaixii, Scutellaria altissima, Penstemon digitalis, P. barbatus, P. pinifolius, Phlomis sp.  Pests/Problems: Among the problems we are observing in the landscape are damage from the Viburnum Leaf Beetle, Rose Slug Sawfly larvae, Imported Willowleaf Beetle, Gypsy Moth Caterpillars, larvae of Lily Beetle, Spittlebugs, Fireblight on Apples (Malus sp.), fungal Tar Spot on Red Maple (Acer rubrum), potato beetles, slugs, mosquitoes, deer flies, ticks. Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora) is blooming prolifically - cut this invasive shrub now while it is easy to identify and before it sets fruit.

Pioneer Valley Region (Amherst)

General Conditions: We experienced a range of conditions in the Pioneer Valley during this past reporting period, from sunny and hot to cool and wet. The reporting period began with unseasonably warm temperatures, with highs in the upper 80s, cooling only to the mid- and upper-60s at night. Scattered thunderstorms occurred on 6/13 but accumulations were minor (mostly less than 0.1”). Then, for the second time this month, the valley received a soaking rainfall. Accumulations were heaviest in the western and southern portions of the valley, with up to 2.45” recorded in western Hampden County. Rainfall rates declined as the storm pushed through and towns in eastern Franklin County were recipients of slightly less than 1” (in most cases). The storm began during the late night hours of 6/14 with heavy downpours lasting into mid-day on 6/15. High temperatures on 6/15 were almost 20º F cooler from the previous day. While the rain was much needed after the bone dry conditions in May, this heavy rainfall almost assuredly initiated several new disease outbreaks. In addition to the rainfall on 6/15, conditions remained cloudy and humid through 6/16, giving many fungal pathogens over 48 hours for spore dispersal, germination and penetration into host plant tissue. Temperatures are much more seasonable now in the wake of the rain, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. The precipitation has been a boon to woody and herbaceous plants and the landscape has taken on the rich, vibrant green color we expect early in the growing season. Lawn grass has rebounded dramatically since May. There has been over 4.5” of rain recorded this month at the Barnes Airport in Westfield, easily surpassing the monthly average in only two weeks. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center (, precipitation during the first half of June is >150% normal, with portions of West County recieving >200% normal. But, for the year we’re still 20-30% below average and the U.S. Drought Monitor (as of 06/16/15) still classifies nearly the entire valley in the D1 (moderate drought) category. Silver and red maples are producing new shoots and foliage which can be easily distinguished from earlier growth by its light green appearance. This is known as sustained growth, in which new shoot and foliage production continues into the growing season as long as environmental conditions allow. Sweetgum, hemlock, alder and tulip poplar also exhibit sustained growth patterns. The northeast is forecast to receive only minor precipitation (<0.5”) from Tropical Storm Bill, as the storm makes its way east from the Midwest. Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are in full bloom right now and provide the sole food source for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. Also, fireflies are actively mating right now, so avoid mowing any tallgrass meadows to protect the habitats for these insects.  Pests/Problems: The heavy rain means anthracnose fungi are active and spreading. Symptoms of infection that have been recently observed include: marginal scorch, angular leaf spots/blotches, blackened petioles and foliar wilting/collapse. Lower, shaded branches and overtopped trees in shade are most susceptible. Cedar-apple rust galls on eastern redcedar are in “full bloom” right now with large masses of orange-colored spores extruding from the galls. These are known as telial horns and the spores produced on red cedar will disseminate to infect apple and crabapples. Pruning off the galls before they produce spores can help to reduce disease incidence if the two hosts are planted near each other. Reports of white pine needle cast continue to emerge. Excessive needle shedding on forest and landscape trees has been observed throughout southern New England. Infections of newly developing needles won’t be apparent until next spring/early summer. Crabgrass and yellow nutsedge are now actively growing in lawns around the valley.

Berkshire Region (Great Barrington)

General Conditions:  Fears of drought were somewhat alleviated by heavy rains which fell on June 15th. Rainfall from Sunday night through Tuesday morning (6/14-6/16) amounted to 1.88 inches, the largest rainfall event of the growing season. Despite this recent rain, the deficit for the year is about three to three and one-half inches, or half of what it was two weeks ago. However, the outlook for the rest of the month suggests intervals of rain alternating with sunny days, an ideal situation for plant growth, assuming sufficient drying between rainfall events. Very noticeable after the recent rainfall is the abundance of little piles – about one-inch high - of granular soil in gardens and lawns. These piles represent the castings of earthworms. Castings result from soil and organic matter ingested by an earthworm, ground in its gizzard, and excreted as granules or pellets. Earthworms bring these castings to the soil surface as a way of keeping their tunnels clear. This often happens during or after rainfall. While some homeowners – not to mention professionals – consider earthworms and their castings to be a nuisance, their presence in lawn and garden soils are a sign of healthy soils. Not only do earthworms decompose organic matter, such as grass clippings and thatch, but the tunnels they create allow for better oxygen and water penetration into soils. This in turn promotes deeper root development of grass or other plant roots. Furthermore, the castings, which are nutrient rich compared to garden soil, act as a slow release fertilizer. On the negative side, the piles of castings can over the long run lead to a bumpy lawn, but that can be prevented by raking the piles to spread the castings over the lawn surface. Occasionally, the presence of earthworms in lawns can invite moles, a predator of earthworms, to tunnel in the lawn. Still, the benefits of a high earthworm population in lawn and garden soils far outweigh any negative impacts.  Pests/Problems:  Rainfall events of the past two weeks have been accompanied by a rapid increase in the populations of slugs and snails. These critters have devoured recently transplanted and emerging seedlings of annuals, as well as the foliage of favored plants such as hostas, dahlias, and marigolds. In an Integrated Pest Management program, slugs and snails can be controlled by employing several methods: habitat management, i.e. eliminating daytime hiding places such as boards and other debris, weeds, and dense ground covers; planting resistant plants, e.g. California poppy, geraniums, impatiens, lantana, and ornamental grasses; and use of baits containing iron phosphate. Pests which continue to be observed during the most recent scouting include: spittlebugs, lily leaf beetle (adults and larvae), woolly beech aphid (nymphs), oak leaf lacebug (adults continue to lay eggs), black vine weevil, aphids, leaf hoppers, imported willow leaf beetle (adults and larvae), and boxwood pysllids (adult flies). Black-legged tick populations remain very high and this scout had to dig a couple out of his flesh following a recent venture into a weedy venue. Four-lined plantbugs were found this week and were feeding on the foliage of certain herbs, notably oregano. Mosquitoes, wasps, millipedes, silverfish, and earwigs continue to be common. The rain has also increased the number of pill bugs found in gardens and around homes. Contrary to its name, pill bugs are neither bugs nor any kind of insect. They are more closely related to crustaceans. Though found in abundance in moist spots, they should not be considered as pests. They feed primarily on decaying vegetation. Fireblight, apple scab, and cedar apple rust are the most frequently observed disease problems in managed landscapes but black spot on roses, powdery mildew on ninebark (Physocarpus), and anthracnose on maple leaves appeared this week.

Environmental Data

The following growing-degree-day (GDD) and precipitation data was collected for an approximately one week period, June 11 through June 17. Soil temperature and phenological indicators were observed on or about June 17. Total accumulated GDDs represent the heating units above a 50° F baseline temperature collected via our instruments for the 2015 calendar year. This information is intended for use as a guide for monitoring the developmental stages of pests in your location and planning management strategies accordingly.


(1-Week Gain)

(Total 2015 Accumulation)

Soil Temp
(°F at 4" depth)

(1-Week Gain in inches)

Cape Cod










North Shore










Metro West










Pioneer Valley















n/a = information not available


Phenological indicators are a visual tool for correlating plant development with pest development. The following are indicator plants and the stages of bloom observed for this period:

Indicator Plants - Stages of Flowering (BEGIN, BEGIN/FULL, FULL, FULL/END, END)
Hydrangea arborescens (Smooth Hydrangea) begin * * * * * * *
Rhus typhina (Staghorn Sumac) * full begin * begin * full begin
Ligustrum spp. (Privet) * full begin/ full full full * begin/full begin
Catalpa speciosa (Northern Catalpa) * full full full full full full full
Sambucus canadensis (American Elderberry) * full full full/end full begin/full full begin/full
Syringa reticulata (Japanese Tree Lilac) begin/full full begin/ full full full full full full
Cladrastis kentukea (Yellowwood) full/end end full/end * full/end end end end
Philadelphus spp. (Mockorange) begin full full/end full full/end full/end full full
Kalmia latifolia (Mountain-laurel) full full full/end full full/end full/end full/end full
Hydrangea anomala petiolaris (Climbing Hydrangea) full full * end * full full full
Cornus sericea (Red Osier Dogwood) * * * * full/end full/end full/end full/end
Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) full/end end end * end end end end
Cornus kousa (Kousa Dogwood) full full full full full/end full full full
Weigela florida (Old Fashioned Weigela) full/end end full/end * full/end full/end full/end full/end
* = no activity to report/information not available
  • CAPE COD REGION - Roberta Clark, UMass Extension Horticulturist for Barnstable County - Retired, reporting from Barnstable.
  • SOUTHEAST REGION - Deborah Swanson, UMass Extension Horticulturist for Plymouth County - Retired, reporting from Hanson.
  • NORTH SHORE REGION - Geoffrey Njue, Green Industry Specialist, UMass Extension, reporting from the Long Hill Reservation, Beverly.
  • EAST REGION - Kit Ganshaw & Sue Pfeiffer, Horticulturists, reporting from the Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain.
  • METRO WEST REGION – Julie Coop, Forester, Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, reporting from Acton.
  • CENTRAL REGION  -  Joann Vieira, Superintendent of Horticulture, reporting from the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston.
  • PIONEER VALLEY REGION - Nick Brazee, Plant Pathologist, UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab, reporting from UMass Amherst.
  • BERKSHIRE REGION - Ron Kujawski, Horticultural Consultant, reporting from Great Barrington.

Woody Ornamentals


Infestation of the pine bark adelgid (Pineus strobi) and needle cast caused by Mycosphaerella pini (also known as Dothistroma septosporum) on eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). Heavily wooded property with numerous white pines, ranging in age from 20- to 60-years-old. Several have noticeably thin canopies with excessive needle shedding.

Severe infestation of elongate hemlock scale (Fiornia externa) on balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Tree is approximately 25-years-old and has been present at the site for 10 years in a hedge grouping of evergreens. Additionally, the tree was infested with spruce spider mites (Oligonychus ununguis) and was harboring the needle cast pathogen, Rhizosphaera. The stress caused by the EHS infestation led to a shoot tip blight, possibly as a result of cold injury this winter.

Verticillium wilt of Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’). Tree is less than 15-years-old and has been present at the site for no more than four years. Previously, the tree appeared relatively healthy. This spring, a significant portion of the canopy did not leaf out while other shoots produced foliage but then wilted and died. Olive-green staining was evident in the xylem tissue of submitted shoots and branches.

Foliar blight of white fir (Abies concolor) caused by Rhizosphaera. 10-year-old landscape tree that began showing symptoms of decline last year. Tree resides in half sun and is provided with supplemental lawn water. On white fir, Rhizosphaera can cause the needle tips to become brown and then ash-grey while the needle base remains green. Black pads of tissue (pycnidia) rupture through the needle surface, not always through stomata as it does on spruce.

Transplant shock, winter injury and stem cankering caused by Fusarium and Phomopsis on magnolia (Magnolia sp.). Tree is roughly five-years-old and was planted just last year. This spring, dieback of shoots was evident in the canopy and the site will likely require replanting.

Foliar wilt caused by the anthracnose pathogen Colletotrichum on Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’). Tree is approximately 30-years-old and has been present for the site for over five years. This spring, clusters of leaves were observed wilting in the canopy. The foliage remained free of spots and blotches but the petioles were blackened. Symptoms were present in previous years but were not as severe. Anthracnose fungi like Colletotrichum are highly dynamic and can cause marginal scorch, leaf spots/blotches, blight of the petioles, girdling of new shoots and cankers on established branches.

Anthracnose of redbud (Cercis canadensis).      Fire blight, caused by Erwinia amylovora, on apple (Malus domestica).       Winter injury of Oriental spruce (Picea orientalis). Needles produced in 2013 are mostly intact while 2014 needles and roughly half of the buds suffered from cold/freeze injury.

For more detailed management information for woody plant diseases in the landscape, refer to UMass Extension's Professional Management Guide for Diseases of Trees and Shrubs.

Report by Nick Brazee, Plant Pathologist, UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab, UMass Amherst.


DCR just started the annual aerial defoliation survey and we're seeing some heavy defoliation across eastern Massachusetts primarily east of Route 495. There was some heavy defoliation reported on the South Shore, North Shore and outer Cape from winter moth which has been followed up with gypsy moth. We're noticing pockets of defoliation caused by those two insects and in some areas fall cankerworm and forest tent caterpillar mixed in leading to additional defoliation. There's also some gypsy moth defoliation mapped as far west as the Ludlow/Springfield area. One reason for this large amount of defoliation being caused by gypsy moth might be the limited amount of the Entomophaga maimaiga fungus seen this year. That fungus generally has kept populations of gypsy moth in check for many years. Fall cankerworm and forest tent caterpillar are now pupating and gypsy moth will be pupating soon. A tough year for deciduous trees in the east.

Another note of concern is the recent finds of Southern pine beetle, Dendroctonus frontalis, in traps placed in several areas across the state. Too soon to tell the implications for two and three needle pines here in the state but in areas to the south of Massachusetts this forest pest has caused widespread tree mortality to those specific types of pine. Because of the large numbers of red and pitch pines in certain areas of the state, the concern is that Southern pine beetle could potentially create a fire hazard by causing rapid death of pines.

We continue to monitor for emerald ash borer (EAB), with traps placed in strategic areas to track the spread of this invasive insect.

Report by Ken Gooch, MA DCR Forest Health Program Supervisor, Amherst.

Landscape Turf

Management Practices

Turfgrass Life Cycles

Life cycles are an important aspect of plant management, and the life cycles of pests such as weeds and insects also regularly factor into decision-making.  When it comes to turfgrasses, uncertainty often exists about the significance of dealing with ‘annual’ or perennial’ grasses.  Some grasses even have descriptive names, such as annual bluegrass or perennial ryegrass, but actual life cycle 'behavior' may not necessarily match what’s advertised.

For turf managers, an understanding of turfgrass life cycles provides information about plant status at any given point in time as well as information about growth and persistence across seasons. An annual plant by basic definition has a life cycle that is confined to one growing season, while perennials survive over multiple seasons. ‘True’ annuals or perennials tend to follow their respective life cycle within their normal range of adaptation, but life cycle behavior can be influenced by species and variety adaptation as well as the characteristics of a particular growing environment. A turfgrass species with moderate cold tolerance may not survive the winter in a very cold environment, for example, while it may successfully over-winter in a warmer region or during a milder year.

Some notes on annual and perennial behavior in turfgrasses:

  • ‘Perennial’ species, such as Kentucky bluegrass or creeping bentgrass, normally survive over multiple seasons in the cool-season range. Perennial ryegrasses and tall fescues are sometimes referred to as a ‘short-lived perennials’ because of relative intolerance to the inevitable low temperature extremes in Northern locations. Even less tolerant of temperature extremes, annual ryegrass frequently behaves as an annual but can be a short-lived perennial under moderate conditions.
  • Several species with warm-season adaptation cannot typically survive Northern winters, and therefore behave as annuals when planted here. A notable exception is Zoysiagrass, which often over-winters successfully in Massachusetts and other areas of New England.
  • ‘Summer’ annual species, such as crabgrass or goosegrass, thrive in the Northeast during the heat of summer but are readily killed when cold weather sets due to fragile warm-season physiology. Populations of these annual grasses do not survive from season to season, but nevertheless have evolved a mechanism to re-appear each year based on seed that persists in the soil.
  • Annual bluegrass behaves similarly to the above, save for one main difference: it is a ‘winter’ annual as opposed to a summer annual. Annual bluegrass seeds germinate in fall, and the plants then over-winter before setting seed and dying with the arrival of summer stress conditions. Under intensive management and a favorable growing environment, however, some strains of annual bluegrass are able to endure through the summer and beyond a single season, thus exhibiting perennial behavior.

Long days in late spring promote seedhead formation. Regardless of the annual or perennial tendency of the grasses present, most turf is maintained as a perennial system.  Without confusing the issue, it is important to note that individual turfgrass tillers have an annual life cycle and thus a life span that is normally less than one year.  Tiller formation is stimulated by shorter days, so key periods for tillering occur during spring and fall.  New tillers replace older, dying tillers and it is this cycle of tillering that enables the persistence of turf cover from season to season.

Turfgrass seedheads are a common sight at the current time (see photo to the right), and provide a great illustration of the seasonality of turfgrass growth and the impact of life cycle on management and turf performance. The long days of late spring and early summer stimulate a shift in some tillers, specifically older tillers that have over-wintered, from vegetative growth (leaf production) to the reproductive phase of the plant’s life cycle. The turfgrass crown gives rise to a flowering culm, which is the rigid stem upon which the flower (seedhead) forms. This transition to the reproductive phase can lead to a decline in stand density, mowing quality, and overall turf appearance and function (seedheads are often considered unsightly and can disrupt playing surfaces). Tillers that have entered the reproductive phase this spring will soon die, and will be later replaced by the next round of fall-formed tillers.

Report by Jason Lanier, Extension Educator, UMass Extension Agriculture and Landscape Program.

Additional Resources

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Diagnostic Services

A UMass Laboratory Diagnoses Landscape and Turf Problems - The UMass Extension Plant Diagnostic Lab is available to serve commercial landscape contractors, turf managers, arborists, nurseries and other green industry professionals. It provides woody plant and turf disease analysis, woody plant and turf insect identification, turfgrass identification, weed identification, and offers a report of pest management strategies that are research based, economically sound and environmentally appropriate for the situation. Accurate diagnosis for a turf or landscape problem can often eliminate or reduce the need for pesticide use. For sampling procedures, detailed submission instructions and a list of fees, see Plant Diagnostics Laboratory

Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing - The University of Massachusetts Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is located on the campus of The University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Testing services are available to all. The function of the Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory is to provide test results and recommendations that lead to the wise and economical use of soils and soil amendments. For complete information, visit the UMass Soil and Plant Nutrient Testing Laboratory web site.   Alternatively, call the lab at (413) 545-2311.

Ticks are active at this time! Remember to take appropriate precautions when working and playing outdoors, and conduct daily tick checks. UMass tests ticks for the presence of Lyme disease and other disease pathogens. Learn more