Growing Concerns 498: Box elders, eliminate, gardening predictions


Flyswatter now and caulking later are best defense against box elder bugs


Dear Janet,

How can we eliminate box elder beetles from our home interior? I called an exterminator and was told that there is nothing that can safely eliminate them. Their advice was to spray liquid detergent on them. As both my son and husband have allergies and I have a 16 month old puppy I hesitate to use anything stronger.


Dear S.,

Why is it so important to eliminate them? They don't bite. They don't eat during winter. Within the walls, they cause no problem. They're only inside your house because the hidey holes they found when they congregated on your sunny outer walls in fall went clear through to the inside. Swat them or sweep them up, and pitch them out the door.

Next summer, caulk and close cracks on the outside walls, especially on walls that are sun-lit in fall.

Gardening Predictions 2003

Things I see in my crystal ball for the 2003 growing season:

Lots of ashes will come down...

...killed by emerald ash borer. Perhaps the only silver lining will be if we finally learn to plant a greater variety of trees along our roads. Ask your city forester about replanting with golden rain tree, amur cork tree, yellowwood and other less conventional but street-worthy species.

White pine decline will continue.

So sad, the slow yellowing and death that's happening to white pines across the Midwest and Northeast U.S. It may be the result of a combination of factors, from climate warming and drought to the sudden, extreme cold snaps we had in two winters of the past ten. We can't be sure of the causes but we can be sure that we're going to keep losing pines. Start thinking about replacements.

There will be more growing and buying of unusual salad greens and vegetables...

...spurred by the fast food menu upgrades predicted by marketing gurus. This will be similar to the increased interest in landscaping in the 1980's, following high-visibility landscape upgrades at hamburger chains.

Rock gardening will become more popular...

...since mountain biking (already a multi-billion dollar industry) and rock climbing will continue to increase in popularity. More people will spend time up close and personal with tiny crevice plants while on vacation, then want to grow them at home.

More people will spend more timein their yards...

...for the calming, restorative effects of gardening that counteract the continuing threat of terrorism and its fallout.

Master Gardeners all over the State will rally... keep current funding or find alternate means to support their counties' MSU Extension educational programs, as State funding dwindles. More Master Gardeners will remember to tell those whose questions they answer and garden problems they address, that thanks should be directed to the MSU Extension.

Short reports:

That night-chilled windowsillmay be perfect...

...for an overwintering camellia, gerber daisy, freesia, lantana or streptocarpus. In winter, these species like daytime temperatures of about 65 and 50's at night to stay healthy and develop flowering shoots as days lengthen.

If all the leaves fell off the rosemary, M.J...

...stop watering it. Leafless plants can't use water. All the water will do is rot the roots. Keep it in a cool, bright spot and watch for new shoots. If none develop in two weeks, buy new and grow it cooler and sunnier than the last one. Then thank your gifting granddaughter again, this time for helping you learn!


Green thumbs up

to starting something from seed, whether it's one citrus tree in a paper cup, an acorn in your yard, a dozen tomatoes in a deluxe seed-starting kit or fifty sweet peas in plastic cell packs. It's good for the soul to watch things grow.


Green thumbs down

to keeping a houseplant that wants to depart. If it's lost all its leaves or you fight constantly to keep its pests at bay, give it up. Visit a greenhouse where you can soak up some sun and garner suggestions on easier-care indoor plants.

Originally published 1/11/03