Q. There are small round brownish-red insect eggs on the underside of my squash leaves. What are they and what damage are they potentially doing?
A. They are the eggs of the squash bug. Squash bugs are "true bugs," which use their piercing sucking mouthparts to remove plant juices. High squash bug populations can cause plants to wilt and die. Effective control can be accomplished with timely insecticide sprays coupled with thorough coverage. Treat when most eggs have hatched and when nymphs are still small to medium in size. Place pieces of board or shingles on the ground near the plants in order to concentrate the insects in a small area that is more easily treated.
Q. What's wrong with my sycamore tree? A couple of weeks ago, the bark started flaking off in large pieces?
A. It sounds like you're describing the natural sloughing of the bark that occurs with sycamores, giving them a mosaic-like green, cream and gray patterned bark. Usually the shedding of the bark is gradual and doesn't cause concern, but some years the bark will flake off in larger pieces all at once. This is natural, as long as the bark coming off isn't revealing the wood underneath.
Q. It has been a hot summer. How do the 2014 accumulated growing degree day (DD) heat units compare with other years?
A. We used an online model, which can be found at http://uspest.org/wea, for alfalfa and corn to determine how we compared with other years and how many DD heat units had accumulated at Othello. In corn, generally we start accumulating heat units from a time near planting, so in the equation, we used April 1 as the start time and went through Aug. 2 and used a minimum and maximum of 50 and 86 degrees, respectively.
So far, we have accumulated 1747 DD heat units, which is four days ahead of 2013, 10 days ahead of 2012 and 21 days ahead of the 30-year average for this site. Because alfalfa is a perennial crop, in the equation collected DD heat units from Jan. 1 to Aug. 2 and used a minimum and maximum of 50 and 86 degrees, respectively. Results for alfalfa show that DD heat units in 2014 are seven days ahead of 2013, 10 days ahead of 2013 and 18 days ahead of the 30-year average. So far, 2014 is a warmer year compared with 2012, 2013 or the 30-year average.
-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.