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Color, Mosquitoes, Spotted Cucumber Beetle, Hollies, Pruning Peach Trees, Fleas

It’s time to plant all the summer color plants. My favorite choices for sun include pentas, hibiscus, periwinkle, VIP and Wave petunias, lantana, salvia coccinea, begonias and globe amaranth. In the shade I use impatiens, caladiums, purple heart (Setcreasea) and coleus.

Q. We are besieged by swarms of mosquitoes! It started last year and I was hoping that is was a one season thing, but they have returned with a vengeance. They are covering our eaves, siding, and are in the grass. I purchased and used a chemical spray last year, but I don’t want to do that again. ’– T.V., Frisco

A. To kill the adults, spray Garrett Juice with orange oil or Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap added. You can also use garlic-pepper tea or cedar oil. The rest of the program is to dump or drain stagnant water, treat water that must remain with Bactimos Briquettes or Mosquito Dunks and use herbal repellents on your skin.

Q. Have you had any experience with the new "mosquito trap’” product ’– Mosquito Power Trap by Flotron or the Mosquito Magnet by American Biophysics, Corp. My yard is organic. ’– B.R., Dallas

A. The general philosophy of these devices seems valid. They provide carbon dioxide, heat and a vacuum, to attract and kill the female mosquitoes. I haven’t been given any details yet, but hopefully they will work well and become a successful part of the organic flea control program.

Q. What are the yellow bugs that look like ladybugs? ’– V.S., Dallas

A. Probably spotted cucumber beetles. They are bad guys, vegetarians ’– plant eaters. Dust a little natural diatomaceous earth on the plants they are eating. They hate that stuff. You can also spray plants with one of the organic foliar sprays that contain orange oil, or add it at 2 oz. per gallon.

Q. We have yaupon hollies in our back flowerbed. Little white flies or bugs flew from the bushes and my violets are completely gone. ’– T.D., Texoma A. Spray Garrett Juice or any organic spray that contains seaweed but add garlic tea or garlic-pepper tea. Works great. Drenching the soil with garlic tea or a neem oil solution will also help with whiteflies.

Q. You talk a lot about tree pruning being only for people’s benefit and not tree benefits. What about peach trees? I have read that you should prune the grey wood and any center branches every year so that the production will not break branches and so the sun can reach the center of the tree.

A. Even on fruit trees, pruning is done for your benefit. Pruning the trees to remove old wood and tall vertical limbs is to help produce the number and size fruit that you want. Pruning has nothing to do with the general health of the plant, unless it’s overdone which creates a negative impact on the tree.

Q. I have fleas in my carpet in my house. Do you have a method of getting rid of them without hurting my cat? ’– P.S.B., Garland

A. Spray indoors with orange oil based products like Orange Guard and apply beneficial nematodes outdoors. This along with the overall organic program will also help control ticks, grubs, termites, thrips and fire ants.

Q. I have aphids on my oleanders and daylilies. I have heard that mixing chemical fire ant killer with water and detergent will kill them. Is this true? ’– P.C., Dallas

A. That ought to kill ’‘em all right along with a lot of friends in the garden. It also won’t do you any good. Why use a nuclear weapon when a flyswatter will work fine. Spray plants with garlic tea or garlic pepper tea or just a fish and seaweed spray followed by a release of lady beetles.

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