Keep the house sealed against insect invaders

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During the fall, insects may enter homes and buildings looking for a nice place to overwinter. Common invaders in the Augusta area include boxelder bugs, lady beetles, spiders and millipedes.

These invaders are generally harmless to people and property. They do not feed on people, pets, houseplants, stored products or furnishings. They are merely nuisance pests, especially when they occur in large numbers.

The preferred management for these invaders is prevention: stop them before they enter the house. Typical exclusion or pest proofing activities include the use of tight-fitting doors and windows; sealing openings and cracks around pipes and wires, doors and chimneys; repairing or replacing window, door and vent screens; and keeping siding, eaves and soffits in good repair.

When needed, insecticide barriers can supplement pest proofing and can be applied by the homeowner or a professional. Insecticides typically used are cyfluthrin (Bayer Advanced), bifenthrin (Ortho), pyrethrin, permethrin (Bonide, Green Light, etc.), or carbaryl (Sevin).

Southern and western sides of residences are where insects are most common because that is where the afternoon sunshine hits the house. Apply the insecticide according to label directions to siding, foundation, windowsills and door thresholds, and to the landscape a few feet from the building. Insecticides must be applied before insects begin to enter buildings to be effective.

A household aerosol spray or ready-to-use liquids labeled for indoor use containing pyrethrins, cyfluthrin or bifenthrin will provide some control. You can also use foggers. Use insecticides sparingly indoors and carefully follow label recommendations.

Perennials

The cool nights and dry, sunny days in the fall are perfect for dividing perennials. Cool nights are needed to re-establish root systems and harden off the plants for winter. Although most perennials can be divided, some cannot be and some do not respond well. Consult gardening books or ask an expert if you have any doubt.

Dividing large clumps of roots is best done with a clean, sharpened spade. Clean cuts limit crushed tissue and reduce disease infection. Entire plants with a root ball can be divided with a clean, sharp knife. Many perennials such as iris and daylilies can simply be pulled apart into smaller units once the root ball is dug up. In instances where the roots are very wet, or have some areas of decay, remove dead tissue and allow the plant roots to become dry to the touch a few hours in a shady location before replanting.

Perennials should be dug, air-dried and replanted in the late afternoon. This gives the plant an entire night to re-establish root/soil contact once it is watered in. Maintain a watchful eye on the plant during the next few weeks. If it wilts or the soil becomes very dry, you may need to increase watering or provide mulch to reduce evaporation.

You really do not need to add liquid fertilizers after replanting because too much plant food can cause new soft growth to appear just before frost and that could kill the plant.

Blueberries

Most people know that blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C and high in fiber content. They are also an excellent source of antioxidants, actually higher than more than 40 fruits and vegetables, according to a study conducted several years ago.

Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that contribute to heart disease and aging. And they have only 60 calories per cup. It seems blueberries are almost the perfect food.

It's a good idea to test the soil before planting blueberries this fall or winter. Blueberries prefer an acidic pH of between 4.0 and 5.3.

Reach Sid Mullis, the director of the University of Georgia Extension Service office for Richmond County, at (706) 821-2349 or smullis@uga.edu.


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