Easy to be Green: Winter’s effect on creepy crawlers

Okay, I’ve had enough. I am waving the white flag and revoking my wish for snow.

Personally, I think Phil was paid off to forecast an early spring. Unless my eyes were deceiving me, I thought he looked a little more “filled out” as in previous years. But, I still will say, snow is important.

Like the newscasters often say, I have some breaking news that just came in. The polar vortex may have killed a significant amount of harmful, invasive insect species.

This is according to a press release by the National Pest Management Association. The release stated that some invasive species such as the emerald ash borer more likely didn’t survive and that up to 95 percent of the stink bugs may have been killed. Go back and reread this paragraph and notice certain words like “may have” or “likely didn’t.” Once the weather starts to cool down in the fall, insects are preparing themselves for the long winter haul. Guess we will have to wait for warmer weather to see if the sub-freezing temperature did indeed have a killing effect.

Just when you finally accept the fact that there are no monsters lurking under the bed, waiting to come out when the lights are turned off, you now have to worry about the fact that you may swallow up to eight spiders a year while you are sleeping. Maybe that is why you get that tickle in the middle of the night that causes you to wake up coughing. Or you may say that it is an urban legend that started back in the 50’s in a book on insect and spider folklore and later in the early 1990’s, sent out in an email.

But before you run out and buy a surgical mask to wear at night, the chances of this happening are slim to none.

Most spiders use a web to catch their prey and the ones that do hunt are usually found in basements and other undisturbed areas. They aren’t roaming around in your bedroom. Don’t bother getting out that night light. Monsters like to see you and spiders don’t care.

The fountain of youth has long been sought after as soon as mankind realized that there was a process called aging. There may be no such thing as the fountain of youth, but there is something that comes close. According to research eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine could prevent aging. Both contain a natural chemical called resveratrol.

It was mentioned the best source of this natural chemical is from red wine. Other sources are from red grape skins, blueberries, mulberries and other dark colored berries. The article went on to say that you should enjoy a daily glass of red wine and some dark chocolate. I just wonder if two or more glasses of red wine per day would????

2012 was not a good year for one of the most used and popular annual bedding plant. Homeowners saw their impatiens succumb to a disease called downy mildew. This took everyone by surprise and the following growing season saw a limited number of the plants available for sale and then there was a warning sign indicating that the plants were subject to the deadly disease.

Good news has arrived. A new line of impatiens has been introduced that look like and perform like the impatiens of days gone by. There are seven colors, orange, orange star, rose, red violet salmon and white. Shade or part sun, growing about a foot tall, they will be a welcomed addition to the shady garden. Hopefully the plants or seeds will be available this year. I will try to see if any of the seed catalog companies have the plant/seeds available.

There are more new and exciting plants coming along. More on what is new will appear next month.

Every year there are mass migrations happening in the fall and spring. Geese sounding high above in a V formation, robins making a stop to refuel on their northward journey, monarch butterflies following the emergence of milk weed are some of the migrators, but did you know that dragonflies also migrate?

As with other migrating bodies, the common green darner or dragonfly will spend winter in the south where the next generation is produced that will eventually head north to spend the summer months. Come fall the generation that was produced during the summer months will head south.

Researchers feel it is important to study the life cycles of insects and what effect climate change is having on this world’s important food source. Insects are at the bottom of the food chain and what affects them will eventually affect us.

It has been noticed that there has been a change in the migrating habits of the dragonfly. With warmer weather earlier in the north, the dragonfly migrates earlier and stays longer. What the long term effect will be currently is unknown.

Peonies are one of those plants that you wonder why did you decide to plant them?

They are beautiful with their large flower heads of white, pink and red. Beautiful until the first rainfall adds weight onto the already heavy flower heads and then they go. Pulled down to the ground as the stems are not strong enough to keep them erect. There are several solutions to that problem. Next month I will give you my ideas and what I have done in the past.

They say pictures are worth a thousand words. It is nice to hear or see a name about a native plant, but to actually see it is truly worth its weight in gold. There is a company called Prairie Moon Nursery that deals in natives with a picture and detailed information about the plant. Go to www.prairiemoon.com or call 1-866-417-8156 and request a catalog. It is truly nice to see the plant and not just have a name and have no idea if it would fit in your landscape.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!

Quentin Stocum, Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener.