Cold weather won’t make a difference in insects this summer

Credit: Walter Reeves

Credit: Walter Reeves

Q: Is there any chance the Christmas freeze killed enough mosquitoes or fire ants to make a difference this summer? Pearce Becker, Decatur

A: Nope. Cold weather may kill a high percentage of insects in an area, but some always survive. With less competition from their species, these survivors become supercharged reproduction machines. More female mosquitoes and more fire ant queens appear. They lay eggs at a furious pace to replace the workers that were frozen. You will not see much difference in the number of insects this coming summer.

Q: Four years ago, I planted a ‘Blue Skies’ lilac in our yard. It gets plenty of sun and water. Every spring, it sprouts lots of leaves but has yet to provide a bloom. Is there some kind of fertilizer I should be using to help it bloom? Wendy Jackson, Atlanta

A: There is no fertilizer that will make it bloom. The fact that it has lots of leaves makes me hopeful that it will bloom when it gets the conditions it likes. Some lilacs absolutely require cold winter weather in order to bloom. ‘Blue Skies’ has supposedly been bred to make flowers in warmer climates. If it doesn’t bloom this spring, contact Monrovia Nursery, the company which patented the plant. Ask them how many years of temperature data they used to declare this lilac to be warm weather tolerant. There are several lilacs that do well in Middle Georgia and northward. Get the details at

Q: On your website, you discuss ways to eliminate Bermuda grass, including putting plastic over an area and spraying with Roundup. When is it best to start the two-month solarization project? I want to make sure and get a jump on it this year. Jeff Kopp, St. Louis, Missouri

A: The success of solarizing your soil to kill weeds and insects depends on how hot it gets under the clear plastic. That’s why it’s important to support it off the soil a few inches and seal completely around the edges with dirt to hold the heat in. If you want to combine solarization with spraying glyphosate, I’d consider spraying when the Bermuda grass is 90% green and spread the plastic over the area immediately. This will contain the evaporation of the herbicide. The young grass plants will be more susceptible to herbicide then. Honestly, I’m not sure the plastic sheet will make a major difference, but you won’t know unless you try it. Please let me know what happens.

Email Walter at Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website,, or join his Facebook page at for his latest tips.