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Highland - April 9

Paula Campbell - Community Correspondent
Posted 4/8/21

I am happy to report that last week I managed to survive another birthday - actually it was very nice.

I got some flowers, cards and many birthday messages and Margie Granese, the Manager of the …

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Highland - April 9

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I am happy to report that last week I managed to survive another birthday - actually it was very nice.

I got some flowers, cards and many birthday messages and Margie Granese, the Manager of the St Anthony's Church Food Pantry where I volunteer to deliver food boxes, very graciously found the time to bake a lovely pink cake filled with strawberries and my pantry pals celebrated my day in fine style! Thank you to Margie and everyone who extended birthday wishes to me. I did wake up to a light snowfall covering my garlic bulbs and hopefully it signals winters last gasp.

Now my thoughts turn to gardening and all things outdoors. I have started getting my seed packets in order, and I should start them this week. This upcoming gardening season I want to concentrate on growing a flower cutting garden so I can have flowers in the house which I love, and it was so helpful during the lockdown having some fresh flowers around to cheer me up. Of course, what I want and what will actually come to pass are two very distinctly different things, but I will give it a shot.

Thinking about gardening and spending more time outdoors again, there are more than a few pests on the horizon this summer one of which will be the onslaught of cicadas. Yes, billions of Brood X (as in Roman numeral 10) cicadas will emerge this Spring where they have been lurking underground for the past seventeen years where they will fill the air with their loud buzzing mating calls.

Once the soil temperature warms up starting in late April to about sixty-four degrees which can happen in mid-May or sooner and for about four to six weeks our trees and woods will be filled with their buzzing. After mating the adults die and the new cicadas' nymphs burrow back into the earth starting another seventeen-year cycle again. Cicadas are harmless and do not sting or eat up our gardens but get a bad rap because they remind us of the plagues of locusts. Harmless or not the whole thing is just creepy to me.

One of the real threats to our beautiful trees is the Spotted Lantern Fly (SLF) which has been on the radar of the New York State Department of Conservation for at least the last five years due to the SLF destruction of maple, walnut and fruit trees which affects our state's growing agriculture and tourism industries. The adults and nymphs suck out the sap of more than seventy plant species negatively affecting the growth and fruit yields of plants and trees.

When you think that New York State's annual yield of locally harvested apples and grapes have a combined value of over $359 million dollars, the SLF impact on our State's economy could be very damaging. In February of this year, the NYS Departments of Agriculture and Markets, the DEC, Office of Parks and Recreation held an online training webinar to begin to encourage the assistance of the public in surveying and reporting the SLF across New York State.

Lantern Flies tend to hop and do not fly very well, and they are usually spread by human contact by laying their eggs on vehicles, firewood, outdoor furniture and stones. Signs of infestation are sap oozing or weeping for open wounds on tree trunks and deck posts that appear to be wet or have one inch or bigger egg masses on tree trunks that are brownish-gray waxy and mud-like when new. Old masses are brown and scaly. Under plants there would be a massive honeydew buildup which sometimes has black sooty mold.

Here are some tips to get rid of the Lantern fly: Smush it- add a fly swatter to your gardening tools, keep a spray bottle of insecticidal soap handy and give the lantern fly a good dose or capture the fly in a bottle. Use a shop vacuum and then water and Dawn dish soap to kill them.

If you have a tree or deck with an infestation, wrap the tree trunk in sticky paper keeping it at least four inches off the ground and spray any weeds with vinegar which will kill not only the fly but the weeds as well. And plant milkweed on your property. Not only does it help save the monarch butterflies from extinction, but the Lantern Fly is attracted to common milkweed and its poisonous to them.

When doing your Spring cleanup, it is important that you check all your trees and plants very carefully for any signs of the Spotted Lantern Fly. Most importantly the NY State Department of Agriculture asks that should you have Spotted Lantern Flies on your property take a photo and include something of scale such as a coin or ruler and email it with the location to spottedlanternfly@agriculture.ny.gov or fill out the Department of Agriculture and Markets reporting form on their website.

For more information go to www.dec.ny.gov.

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