Cold weather won’t deter bugs

Winter does little but slow down the reinfestation of stinkbugs and other pests. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Winter does little but slow down the reinfestation of stinkbugs and other pests. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Q: Any good news on the bug front after the cold last week? William Howell, email

A: I wish the cold weather would have an effect on insects like fire ants, ambrosia beetles, stinkbugs, etc. but it does not diminish their summertime numbers. In the short term, many insects may die from cold, but they will simply rebound rapidly when spring and summer arrive. You won't notice a difference by midsummer. In 2014, extreme cold hit Minnesota. Researchers hoped it would kill the larvae of the destructive emerald ash borer. Though many of the insects died, their numbers bounced back in a year.

Q: My family has just moved here from California. I really want to grow a lawn. Can I start growing a lawn during the dead of winter? The area has light shade. Ryan Keating, email

A: Available sunlight is always the dominant factor in deciding which grass to recommend. In your case, with light shade, I think fescue is your best choice. The good news is that the spring fescue planting season is approaching. In general terms, pay attention to the long-term weather forecast in early March. If it looks like the weather is going to gradually warm up, you can consider planting seed. I have tips at But you can get started this very day by having a soil test done. Go to for details.

Q: The company that services our subdivision entrance just cut back our healthy 20-year-old Bradford pears. Was this a good decision? Might they go into shock? Terry Walters, email

A: They will not go into shock. Pruning severely may prolong their life span a few years, but now they will need to be pruned every year to keep the limbs from becoming over-weighted again. I do not recommend planting Bradford pear in the first place, but if you already have them, try to prune by removing whole limbs, rather than simply shortening them.

Q: Two rows of tall Leyland cypress grow as a barrier between my house and a busy highway. Some of the lower limbs are dead. Can I cut 15 feet off the top to make the remaining trunk bush out more? William Sims, Walton County

A: Cutting the tops out of the Leyland cypress won't do anything to make it bushy lower down. The plant will simply start making new vertical growth where you made the pruning cut. I think your only option is to plant thick green shrubs to hide the trunk. There are lots of evergreen shrubs to choose from: holly, cleyera, English laurel, etc.

Q: I have "baby" nandinas and a friend wants some of them. When can I dig them for her to plant in her yard. Julia Dulci, Alpharetta

A: If it is 12 to 20 inches tall, I think a small nandina can be transplanted anytime. They seem tough as nails no matter how mistreated.