Articles written by: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
If you have had the opportunity to drive around the county lately, you may have noticed all the beautiful crape myrtles highlighting the landscape. If you’ve seen them and would like to join the color parade, now is a good time to set your plan in motion. The fall is an excellent time to plant ornamental trees.
Crape myrtles are hardy and come in a variety of sizes and colors. You even get to choose the height. Actually you can pick the flower color and the tree height in one choice. Crape myrtles are an effective component of landscapes that represent both the new and the traditional South.
From China and Southeast Asia, crape myrtles were first recorded planted in Europe in 1759. Since then, people have planted them extensively across the Southeastern United States, the Caribbean, California and Hawaii.
A common nonnative small tree or large shrub (Lagerstroemia genus), crape myrtles have showy summer flowers. They are easy to propagate, easy to grow and fairly easy to find at nursery outlets. Landscapers are increasingly using crape myrtles as small trees.
The tree-form crape myrtle also has great bark features that most people never get to see. Pruning the young trees into a single-stem tree form is easy and once you prune them into tree form, crape myrtles are easy to maintain and the bark feature is easy to see.
Many times fitting small trees in small spots and under tall objects is filled with problems because the small trees always seem to grow larger than expected, but with crape myrtles, a lot of newly designed cultivars top out at a specific height. Work in recent years has yielded many new cultivars. Listed below are several popular cultivars. These respond well to pruning into a tree form and are resistant to foliage mildew.
Crape myrtles that grow about 15 feet high include Apalachee (light lavender), Comanche (dark pink), Lipan (lavender), Osage (clear pink), and Sioux (pink). Cultivars that reach about 20 feet in height include Miami (dark pink), Tuskegee (dark pink), and Wichita (lavender). Crape myrtles that grow to 25 feet tall include Biloxi (pale pink), Fantasy (white), Kiowa (white), Muskogee (light lavender), and Natchez (white).
If your view of crape myrtles is a multi-stem, hack-trimmed shrub, expand your mind and landscape options because small trees are great and easy, if trained correctly.
What is that web in my trees?
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
As the days get shorter and shorter, the appearance of webbing in trees around the county becomes more prominent. The webbing is home to a caterpillar called the fall webworm. They use the silk webbing to form protection from predators as it feeds on leaves of over 100 different types of trees. Some of the most common trees we see them infest are cherry, black walnut, mulberry, elm, sweet gum, willow, apple, ash, and oak. It is a native insect that ranges from Canada to Mexico. The sign of fall webworms in a tree are relatively easy to spot. They will create a nest at the end of branches, and as they need more leaves, they expand the size of the nest to meet their needs.
In general fall webworms are nothing to be too concerned about. If a tree is healthy, it will be able to withstand an infestation. Most deciduous trees can tolerate losing most of its leaves, especially during this time of year when fall leaf drop is just around the corner. The time to be concerned with fall webworms is when small trees are trying to become established or when trees are sick or stressed. The extra stress of losing too many leaves can really affect the trees. In general, the damage they cause in hardwoods is mostly cosmetic and does not cause long term damage to the health of the tree, except in the stressed trees mentioned above.
With that in mind, chemical control is generally not required. If you feel the need to treat an infestation, start with insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils or bacillus thuringiensis. These products will provide control of the caterpillar when it is small, and it will not harm other insects or predators who feed on them. If you have large caterpillars on a tree, you will need to consider using an insecticide such as carbaryl (Sevin), bifenthrin or cyfluthrin. When using any of these products, remember to always read and follow the labeled directions. In order for the insecticide treatment to be effective, you must make contact with the fall webworms inside the webbing or on leaves next to the webbing that will serve as the next meal for the caterpillars. Be prepared to break into the web nest to expose the mass of caterpillars inside. This can be done with a stick if you can reach it, throwing something like a ball through it, or if local laws allow it shooting it with a shotgun. Spraying the outside of the webbing will not provide acceptable control.
Another method of control is to break open the web and pull it out of the tree. This exposure will allow predators to feed on the exposed caterpillars. I have heard of people burning the web home, but that can be a dangerous activity for you and the tree.
I have had a couple of people say that the name fall webworm is misleading since we have been seeing them for several weeks now and it is not yet fall. Their timing is a little early this year, but it is due to the heat and moisture that we have experienced during the summer. Because of the warmer temperatures they have completed their life cycle earlier. This also means that they will soon be gone from our trees and we can look forward to our brilliant fall colors.
Control External Parasites on Beef Cattle
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
The beef cattle producer’s main goal is to make a profit. One management tool that will help the producer reach this goal is to improve production efficiency. The beef cattle producer should consider external parasite and cattle grub control two of many important practices in a total beef cattle herd health and herd management program geared toward improving production efficiency.
Beef cattle in Georgia are constantly under attack by external parasites such as horn flies, stable flies, face flies, biting midges, horse flies, deer flies, heel flies, mosquitoes, chewing lice, sucking lice, mites, cattle grubs, wound-infesting larvae, and ticks. These parasites:
- Cause anemia (due to blood loss)
- Reduce weight gains (the average daily weight gains of calves can be reduced by 1/16 to 1/4 pound)
- Weaken cattle, thereby predisposing them to diseases
- Ruin cattle hides
- Transmit several important beef cattle diseases such as anaplasmosis, and pinkeye
- Irritate animals
- Reduce milk production of brood cows
- Can kill infested animals
Monetary losses attributed to external parasites and cattle grubs of beef cattle usually exceed $20 million in Georgia each year. The producer should plan, develop and implement a year-round external parasite and cattle grub control program to rid beef cattle of these damaging pests. For each dollar spent to control external parasites, a return of $5 to $10 can usually be discovered. For the most effective, efficient and safe external parasite control program, you should:
- Identify the external parasite to be controlled.
- Select an effective and efficient insecticide application system to treat infested cattle.
- Choose an insecticide which will safely control the external parasite causing the damage.
Other external parasites such as ticks, mites, biting midges and mosquitoes attack beef cattle. If an effective year-round eternal parasite control program is underway, these pests usually do not pose a problem. If they do, then specific control measures may be needed.
Remember to always read and follow the label of any product that is used.
Cattle producers should work with his or her veterinarian to develop a plan for external parasite control.
Information is also available at the Gilmer UGA Extension office concerning controlling these pests.
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