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  • Upcoming Garden Events in Middle Tennessee

    March 1 – 4: Nashville Lawn & Garden Show, Fairgrounds Nashville. The annual all-indoors garden event that features live garden displays, lectures, vendors, floral designs and special programming Wine Festival featuring Tennessee wines is Saturday (March 3), noon – 5 p.m. For more information on the events and the complete lecture schedule, visit www.nashvillelawnandgardenshow.com.

    April 7: Perennial Plant Sale hosted by the Perennial Plant Society of Middle Tennessee  at The Fairgrounds Nashville. Find newly released and hard-to-find perennials along with a wide range of tried and tested varieties, all from top local nurseries. The sale opens at 9 a.m. and usually sells out by early afternoon. For more information, visit www.ppsmtn.org.

    April 14: Herb & Plant Sale hosted by The Herb Society of Nashville, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m., at The Fairgrounds Nashville Sports Arena building. The sale offers common and rare varieties of herbs and heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery and herb markers by artist Roy Overcast for sale. For more information and a list of available plants, visit herbsocietynashville.org.

    May 12: Hosta sale hosted by the Middle Tennessee Hosta Society. Proceeds from the sale support the club’s activities. More information about the MTHS is at www.mths-hosta.com.

    May 19: Urban Gardening Festival hosted by Master Gardeners of Davidson County, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Ellington Agricultural Center (5201 Marchant Drive in Nashville). The free event includes information about a variety of gardening methods and techniques, local artisans, exhibits, growers and more. For information, visit www.mgofdc.org/ugf.

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Fall — and aphids — in the air

QUESTION: Sometimes we see white, wooly-looking bugs in the air and all over the hackberry trees in the fall. At the same time, there is a black coating of something on everything under the trees. What is this?

These are Asian wooly hackberry aphids, which have been flying around Middle Tennessee for about a decade after making their way to the U.S. sometime in the mid-1990s. The aphid has a tiny mouth that resembles a beak, with which it pierces the leaves to extract the plant sugars. Then, like all aphids and
plant-sucking insects, they excrete a sweet, sticky waste product called honeydew, and in the heat of late summer, that substance grows sooty mold, the black substance you see on patio furniture, plants and anything else under a hackberry tree that is playing host to the insects.

I talked to U.T. Extension agent David Cook about the insects several years ago. He said that the feeding doesn’t cause serious damage to the tree. It’s considered mainly a nuisance pest.

If you feel the need to control the insects, Cook has suggested a systemic insecticide, applied around the tree’s root zone in the spring.

IF YOU THOUGHT last month seemed hotter than usual… you were right. Bobby Boyd at the National Weather Service sent me a list of factoids that made me sweat just to read them. Consider this:

August 2011 in Nashville was the 25th hottest on record. There were 24 days when the temperature was 90 degrees or higher, and one day when it bubbled up to 102. That was August 3, and it broke the record for that date of 100 degrees, which was set in 1952.

The average temperature for August was 1.8 degrees above normal. The average high was 92; the average low was 68.9. Three of the 10 hottest summers in Nashville have occurred in the last five years.

All this makes these past few days of cooler weather even more welcome. Fall, ready or not, is in the air.

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