Euonymus scale is common on shrubs

The white scale insects clinging to the underside of this leaf continuously suck sap from the plant. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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The white scale insects clinging to the underside of this leaf continuously suck sap from the plant. (Walter Reeves for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Q: Any idea what’s killing my euonymus bushes? They thrived for years but now a little white bug is eating the leaves. Paul Terry, email

A: I rarely see euonymus shrubs that don’t have a few (or many) scale insects making a meal of the sap from the leaves or stems. For this reason, I never recommend planting them. You should pull out any remaining euonymus shrubs and replace them with loropetalum, holly or distylium, which rarely have problems.

Q: My daughter bought a home in Decatur last year. A bald cypress is growing next door. It has produced knees all in my daughter’s front yard. Some are 40 feet from the tree. I want her to put down sod next year but will this be a problem because of the cypress? Claude Morton, email

A: I’ve only observed bald cypress knees from a distance, so I asked a professional. Lyle Collins, owner of Southern Trillium design/build company (southerntrillium.com), says he sees multiple knees sprouting at a local nursery, where they are routinely removed. Their large bald cypress tree seems not to suffer at all. Although scientists have yet to discover their true purpose, knees seem to sprout more in irrigated areas, like a lawn. Collins recommends deciding on a non-turf area where the knees are ornamental and then spreading mulch to make it attractive. Horticulturists at LSU say you can cut off the knees that sprout outside your designated spot without harm to the tree. Make a clean cut a few inches below the soil surface and perform this simple chore each year.

Q: How do I get rid of carpenter ants in my trees? Whatever you advise, I don’t want to hurt my beagles or the birds in my yard. Lynne Yates, Lithia Springs

A: I have good news for you! The easiest way to control carpenter ants is with commercial ant bait stations, which can be placed in spots your dogs and birds can’t get to. The active ingredient in most is a very slow-acting insecticide that works when worker ants take it back to their queen.

Q: I just bought a beautiful foxglove but discovered it’s poison to deer. The tag said “deer resistant” but my research says it could poison the doe that sometimes jumps my fence. Carolyn Johnson, email

A: I don’t believe foxglove is any more poisonous to animals than are daffodils or azaleas, whose foliage tastes bitter. Besides, in summer, deer have plenty of other greenery to eat after nibbling on a foxglove. Enjoy your flowers; don’t fret about the deer.

Email Walter at georgiagardener@yahoo.com. Listen to his occasional garden comments on “Green and Growing with Ashley Frasca” Saturday mornings on 95.5 WSB. Visit his website, www.walterreeves.com, or join his Facebook Page at bit.ly/georgiagardener, for his latest tips.