Pesticides aren’t needed to manage boxelder bugs

Boxelder bugs congregate by the hundreds under seed-bearing trees. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Boxelder bugs congregate by the hundreds under seed-bearing trees. CONTRIBUTED BY WALTER REEVES

Q: We have a silver maple in our backyard that seems to be a real popular hangout for boxelder bugs. Is there anything we can do to persuade them to move along besides using pesticides? Eric Nelson, Sugar Hill

A: If you don't want to spray insecticide, the next option is to modify their environment to encourage them to move away. They eat maple seeds, so do the best you can to remove seeds from the tree when they form and rake them from the ground when they fall. The insects like to congregate under leaves and ground cover beneath the tree. Keep your mulch thin and ground cover plants cut as close to the ground as possible. This exposes the boxelder bugs to predators.

Q: I have recently planted 600 liriope plants for ground cover. Some unwanted grasses, mimosa, and other weeds have sprouted in my planting. Can I spray Roundup on the unwanted plants or will that affect the liriope? Greg Seagraves, email

A: I can tell you from experience that there is always a little bit of drift or unintended fog when you spray glyphosate (Roundup). It will unintentionally kill nearby plants. After all that work, I don't want you to hurt the liriope. You can make a guard for your sprayer wand by cutting the bottom out of a gallon milk jug and taping the neck to the end of your wand. All you have to do is position the milk jug tightly onto each individual weed and give it a short squirt of weed killer. No drift = no harm.

Q: My blueberries are starting to turn blue but I noticed that something is binding the leaves together. It looks like the leaves have been bitten on the ends but they are then stuck together with something invisible. Janet LeBlanc-Strock, Jasper County

A: You have either a blueberry leaf roller or a blueberry leaf tier. If you disassemble the leaf fragments you'll usually find a little caterpillar present. The easiest control is to squish the tied-up leaves with your fingers, thereby crushing the creature inside.

Q: My buckeye lost its shade when two old pines were removed. Now it has absolutely taken over a side of my yard, covering everything in sight: azaleas, nandina, weeds, etc. The buckeye has white flower spikes in June. Should I use Roundup on it? I like it, just not so large! Temple, Covington

A: My guess is that you have a bottlebrush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora, which is known to spread vigorously from the initial planting site. If you use glyphosate (Roundup), the chemical will travel back through the underground roots and stems to kill the whole shrub. I think your best option is to inquire with friends and neighbors to find a teenager who needs summertime spending money. Hire them and give them a mattock to chop the roots. With the weather such as it is, a generous supply of ice water and crackers would be appropriate too.