Timely Tips for Backyard Gardeners
May 18, 2012
A weekly publication for Backyard Gardeners by
Ohio State University Extension
Is that Baby Wildlife Really an Orphan?
Spring to early summer is the time of year when one may stumble upon a nest or den of young wildlife babies. Perhaps it's a tightly woven grass nest filled with tiny, newly hatched birds or possibly a small depression under a bush-lined with fur and filled with 4-5 young and fuzzy rabbit kits (baby rabbits are called kits, which is short for kitten).
Many times, the parents are absent when wildlife young are stumbled upon, and unless something is amiss, for example a nest knocked out of a tree or wounds/bleeding present on the young, the best thing you can do is leave the babies alone.
It is also the standard operating procedure for females to leave their young alone to search for food. For example, female cottontail rabbits will often leave their kits alone yet concealed while she feeds during the day, only returning at night to care for them. Female deer also employ this same strategy, which also serves to protect the young from being found by predators.
Sometimes wildlife babies appear incapable, but are in fact self-sufficient. Rabbit kits mature very quickly, leaving the nest after 3 weeks as small (and very cute) versions of their parents. A small baby rabbit with erect ears and open eyes does not need assistance.
Neither does a young bird with feathers fully covering their body. At this point, the young bird is a fledgling and learning to fly. Although it may appear to be alone, the parent(s) is often nearby to help if there is trouble. On the other hand, nestling birds that lack feathers and are covered with down are not able to fly or perch on their own. These nestlings should be placed back in their nest, or if the nest has been destroyed, a new nest can be constructed.
Wildlife parents are generally very committed to their young and will usually only abandon them if there is an injury or death. Be sure to give the parents plenty of time to recover their young. If the young animal is not recovered, or if there are injuries present, contact a wildlife rehabilitator. A list of country rehabilitators is available on the Ohio Division of Wildlife's website (see link below).
For More Information:
White Grubs and Billbugs
Dr. Dave Shetlar, OSU Professor of Urban Landscape Entomolgy) recently reported on the selection and application timing of white grub (immature stage of scarab beetles) control products to turfgrass. Questions are being asked in county Extension Offices whether or not grub control products that are applied right now will be effective in suppressing grub feeding damage. Dr. Shetlar noted that while white grubs are a little bit ahead of schedule for the season, they are only about 1 week ahead of their normal pace of development in central Ohio. He also said that the real target for preventing grub damage is the next generation grubs, not the current generation since they already did most of their feeding damage last season and very early this spring.
Dr. Shetlar reported that the neonicotinoid clothianidin (e.g. Arena) can provide season long control of white grubs if applied now. However, if imidacloprid (e.g. Merit) and thiamethoxam (e.g. Meridian) products are applied now, they will most likely "run out of steam" by the time the next generation grubs appear on the scene later this summer. The best timing for the application of these neonicotinoid products for "preventative" control (preventing feeding damage later in the season) is late-June to early-July.
He also noted that imidacloprid and thiamethoxam products can also provide "curative" control, meaning they can kill grubs once they are detected later in the season. However, there are two challenges: there is a risk that turfgrass damage may occur before grubs are killed and these products cannot be applied now and again later in the season. The combined quantity of active ingredient (a.i.) applied twice will exceed label restrictions on the amount of a.i. that can be applied to an area in a given year.
On a final note, Dr. Shetlar indicated that he is very concerned with the status of Bluegrass Billbug controls since the window for making effective control applications closed about three weeks ago. Billbugs are a type of weevil (= snout beetle) and this species overwinters in the adult stage. The adults emerge in the spring to lay eggs in the turfgrass stems. The grub-like larvae first feed within the crown area of the plant and later in the lower crown and root zone. The damage causes grass plants to die and turn brown. Larval feeding activity also causes stems to easily detach; the tried-and-true "tug test" where stems are gently pulled to see if they easily break off remains an effective diagnostic aid for identifying billbug infestations. The larvae are well protected from insecticides, so the overwintered adults remain the most effective insecticide target for preventing turfgrass damage. Dave noted that billbugs are fast becoming a very significant turfgrass pest in Ohio and is often overlooked since larval feeding damage is often mistaken for the brown grass associated with summer drought stress.
(Source: BYGL Newsletter, 2012-07)
Dealing With Bee Swarms
Extension Offices in the area have been receiving numerous calls on swarms of honeybees on homes, barns and trees in the yard. Honeybees are valuable and provide tremendous benefits, specifically pollination, honey and wax. However there are times and places where honeybees create an annoyance and a nuisance, and for sting-sensitive individuals, a health threat.
Swarming is a natural part of the development of a honeybee colony. Swarming is a method of propagation that occurs in response to crowding within the colony. Swarming is an advantage to the bees but is a distinct disadvantage for beekeepers. Consequently, beekeepers manage hives to reduce the incidence of swarming to the extent possible. Swarming usually occurs in late spring and early summer and begins in the warmer hours of the day.
Honeybee swarms may contain several hundred to several thousand worker bees, a few drones and one queen. Swarming bees fly around briefly and then cluster on a tree limb, shrub or other object. Clusters usually remain stationary for an hour to a few days, depending on weather and the time needed to find a new nest site by scouting bees. When a suitable location for the new colony, such as a hollow tree, is found the cluster breaks up and flies to the new home site. Honeybee swarms are not highly dangerous under most circumstances. Swarming honeybees feed prior to swarming, reducing their ability to sting. Further, bees away from the vicinity of their nest (offspring and food stores) are less defensive and are unlikely to sting unless provoked.
In most situations when a honeybee swarm is found on a tree, shrub or house you do not need to do anything. Swarms are temporary and the bees will move on if you patiently ignore them. Stay back and keep others away from the swarm, but feel free to admire and appreciate the bees from a safe distance.
If a swarm is located on your property contact your local Extension Office, many of whom have a list of beekeepers who are willing to come and collect swarms of bees.
As a last resort, you can spray a swarm of bees with soapy water or synthetic insecticide. Wait until after dark if possible. Soapy water sprays (up to 1 cup of liquid dishwashing detergent in a gallon of water) are preferred because the bees die peacefully; aerosol wasp and hornet sprays are more likely to irritate and agitate the bees before they die, increasing the chances of being stung. Spraying a honeybee swarm is a risky operation because of the large number of bees.
(Source: Horticulture & Home Pest News, Donald R. Lewis, Dept. of Entomology, Iowa State University)
Second On Safety- Thinking Fast While Mowing the Lawn
Source: OSU Ag Safety S.T.A.T. Newsletter
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission an average of 40,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms for walk-behind power mower injuries, from 2008 through 2010. While mowing the lawn this season, keep in mind how fast the mower blades spin. A rotary mower blade whirls at 2,000 and 4,000 revolutions per minute. The tip of the blade travels at 100 to 200 miles per hour. That's fast enough to cause serious damage to tender blades of grass and toes that are not protected by sturdy leather shoes - even leather tennis shoes!