Monday, June 25, 2007

Destructive Moths

I'd like for my garden journal to only show beautiful pictures of flowers, birds and butterflies. I'd like to portray only the successes and picture perfect flowerbeds, but that would not be realistic and would not be the complete picture of what I am dealing with as I attempt to transform this empty lot into the place I envision it to be. I don't mean to focus on the negative, but honestly, right now, it seems that between the weather and pests, I'm dealing with a lot of gardening negatives.

My daughter, (who is an indoor girl, just like I used to be), said this morning that she hated gardening, and that was why. It's too much work and there are so many problems. I told her it's kind of like having children, they are a lot of work, they can be a lot of trouble, they don't always behave the way you want them too, and at times can even cause heartache, but they are absolutely worth all of the trouble.
By nature I am a nurturer. I love tending to babies and children, animals, and plants. My full-time "job" right now is to take care of my family, my home and my yard, I have successes and failures. This is true no matter what our jobs are. Not every patient leaves the hospital with health restored, sometimes business deals fall through, firemen can't always save homes or lives, in fact sometimes they loose their own. This certainly puts silly gardening setbacks into perspective, doesn't it?
Getting back to the reason for this post, last evening I took a closer look at my Dwarf Spruce, I thought it was turning brown because of the drought we've had.

When I pulled the branches aside to look, it was all brown underneath.

I found quite a few cotton like sacks, some with eggs that were hatching.
I I also found several moths inside my trees.

I found these this morning on my arborvitae; they are infested too. I had no idea how destructive moths could be.

This is a bag worm I found on the arborvitae.
It looks like I have several pests attacking these trees. I'm not sure what to do. I don't use chemical pesticides, but I'm wondering if I need to. I don't want to loose these arborvitae to pests. I think one of the dwarf spruces is too far gone to save, I'm not sure about the other two. It is quite frustrating to say the least, but hopefully I will keep things in perspective and remember that this is but a small problem compared to what others are facing, and nothing worthwhile comes easy, at least not for me.


Lynne Eldridge M.D. said...


I know you want your landscape beautiful...great pictures, but look first towards organic methods of dealing with pests.

In researching all studies to date on the effect of human exposure to home and garden pesticides, the results are concerning. Children living in a home where home and garden pesticides are used have up to a seven-fold increased risk of developing cancer in their lifetimes. Adults exposed to home pesticides have double the risk of developing brain cancer.

Frequently, simple methods are available for dealing with these pests. I have not researched your particular scenario, but there are many people that have considerable knowledge in this. I usually start by contacting the horticultural department at the University of Minnesota. Check out your local university horticulture department. In many cases they will even make a free home visit to assess your problem.

If you do decide on using a traditional pesticide, consider safety first. Read the label, use gloves, use a fume mask if indicated, and most importantly, keep children away until after a good rain.

Lynne Eldridge M.D.
Author, "Avoiding Cancer One Day At A Time"

Robin said...

Dr. Eldridge, thank you for reminding me of the dangers of pesticides. It is the very reason that I avoid them. I had my son helping me hand pick the Japanese beetles off of the trees and plants this morning and he asked why we didn't just spray like the neighbors do. I asked him which one would he like to be poisoned me or his dad? My preferred method of dealing with pests is to hand pick them off and dispose of them in soapy water or plastic zipped bags.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I'm honored that you would take the time to leave a comment.

Bev said...

Robin, what a very thoughtful post. I loved the comparison of raising gardens and a family. You are right, they are very similar. I had similar thoughts the other day.

I'm soooo sorry about your moths and other problems! We are so lucky here to not have many pests. Wish I had some suggestions. Sounds like you are doing all you possibly can, and I hope you find some helpful people who have some ideas for you.

Carol said...

Robin... I really like the first comment. I don't know what to tell you to do on the Alberta spruces. For the arborvitae, you can hand pick off those bagworms and hope for the best.

I don't like to complain too much about the pests and failures of the garden. If I do that too much, people who don't garden can't understand why I keep doing it. Why I plant beans every year when I know there is a 99% chance the rabbits will eat them!

Keep on gardening, stuff works out how it is supposed to in the long run.

And, hey, good news, we got some rain!

Ilona said...

Robin, I have had similar problems in the past and here is what I think:
although the drought is probably contributing I bet you have spider mites attacking your Alberta Spruce. There is really a simple remedy for this- it just takes time and consistency: hose down the Alberta's to wash the mites off- you will surprised at how this works and in the drought you need to keep them watered anyway

I regularly walk around the garden in the spring and pick off the bagworm cases and then burn them.

The garden has its own pace and there are good years and poor years- but it should recover and then you will feel better.

Try to water your trees by soaking them periodically, just lay the hose at their feet for awhile and give them a good drink.

Robin said...

Thank you all for your encouragement and suggestions. I sent an email to my county's extention program through Purdue University to see what they would suggest. I sprayed the trees with the jet blast today and watered them well. Hopefully I knocked off any eggs or mites. I saw moths in every one of the evergreen trees, and I have about twenty of them. I'd love to find a way to trap them. I don't know if it will help if I leave the back porch light off or not. I think I'll do that.

Naturegirl said...

I had the gypsy moth caterpiller invade my birches and my corkscrew willow! In fact they have moved throughout our neighborhood so I have been knocking on doors warning!!!
I got an organic pesticide (soapy)
called ~END ALL~ or ~END ALL II~
and literally satured the trunks and the branches ...gone....I did check for several days and picked off several..can't have them destroy our beloved trees and expensive to replace!!! *Try this product for your pests. NG