Bark Lice & Vegetable Gardening

Karen Cambre, Sharpe, Kenneth W.  |  5/9/2018 4:32:53 PM

bark licejpgNews article for July 31, 2017

I have seen a number of trees recently that were encompassed in webs and looked like an early Halloween decoration. They definitely have a ghostly look and seemed to scare the homeowners too.

Homeowners want to know what is wrong with their trees and will it kill their trees.

This webbing, which looks like ice or silvery slime covering limbs and trunks of trees, is quite a different look that will command your attention. It is not a decoration but the busy work of insects known as bark lice.

Bark lice are harmless small gray insects that live in the cracks and crevices of trees. They are soft bodied and are only about 1/8 of an inch long. They appear in large numbers and many times look like a dark spot on the tree trunk. They act as tree cleaners and feed on organic matter that is in the tree such as pollen, mold and dead insect parts.

The problem for bark lice is that they are very vulnerable to predators and harsh weather conditions. In order not to be eaten or washed away they spin a protective covering of web over themselves as they work. You might see the webbing around an entire tree trunk or just some limbs.

Bark lice will not harm the tree and no treatment is necessary. The insects will die off when the weather starts to turn cool. If you find their decorations objectionable you can use your water hose and wash it all away with good water pressure.

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vegetablesjpg

Vegetable gardening has been a challenge this year due to all the rain. Not many people I have talked with were very successful with spring gardens. It is still not too late to plant summer crops but time is waning.

If you still want to plant fall tomatoes, you need to use transplants and get those planted by August 15th. Be sure to use fall or heat set varieties. Transplants for fall bell peppers can also be planted until mid-August.

You can still plant several of the cucurbits such as cucumbers, squash and pumpkins but it is too late for watermelons and cantaloupes. Southern peas will still make but you need to plant them by about August 10th if you plan to harvest peas.

Greens such as collards, turnips and mustard are traditionally thought of as fall plantings but they can be planted as early as August 1st.

Fall Irish potatoes are not as productive as those planted in the spring but late summer does provide another opportunity to increase supplies before winter. You can plant whole small potatoes saved from the spring from mid-August through September 10th. Note that Irish potatoes have to go through a physiological rest period of 90 days before they will germinate. If your spring potatoes have not been dug for 90 days before planting, they will continue to rest in the seed bed and germinate when that rest period has been satisfied.

When planting in the fall pay close attention to weeds, insects and diseases. This time of year organic mulches will help cool the soil, reduce sunlight to control weeds and conserve moisture. Both insects and diseases are more prevalent in the heat. Gardeners need to play close attention to plants and implement control measures with the onset of problems. In the heat both insect populations and diseases progress quickly.

For more information on these or related topics contact Kenny at 225-686-3020 or visit our website at www.lsuagcenter.com/livingston.

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