Category Archives: Trees

Io Moth Caterpillar – ouch

I walked and drove past this Mulberry tree for a week or so, while going up and down my driveway, and noticed massive leaf loss.  I didn’t immediately do anything about it because I figured that it was the usual fall grasshopper destruction.  On my way down to the mailbox by the road, I decided to walk over to the 7 foot, second year Mulberry tree and check it out.  I was very surprised to see about 14 giant, green, prickly caterpillars. These things were about 4″ long. They were covered with rows of bur looking things that turned out to be toxic stingers.

Mulberry tree eaten by io moth caterpillars

The main branch has been stripped of leaves by these moths.

Mulberry main branch stripped by io moths

io moth caterpillars eat leaves to stems

I was not prepared to remove these pests – I did not have my leather gloves my pocket so I tried to flick one off with my finger. Ouch. I only knocked the critter half way off but received a very severe sting. I had to find a stick to finish knocking off the other caterpillars.

This is an io moth caterpillar:
io moth caterpillar
This is an io moth:
io moth

I had expected fire ants to be the first predators to arrive on these dead caterpillars, but it yellow jackets were there first.

yellow jacket on dead io moth caterpillar

Three yellow jackets on green bug juice from the caterpillar.

yellow jackets on dead io moth caterpillars

Doing some research to find out what these giant stinging caterpillars are, I found that there are public health warnings out about them. My sting could have resulted in a serious allergic reaction. The burs are hollow, poisonous hairs that are connected to underlying poison glands. The resulting allergic reaction could last a day or 2, with possible nausea for the first few hours.

The “Automeris io” moth caterpillar has long rows of tubercles armed with green and black spines. This thing is classified as a “Urticating” caterpillar. They have urticating hairs or bristles, meaning ‘irritating hair’. They are a defense mechanism, like a nettle plant’s hairs. The immature stages of several species of moths in states east of the Rocky Mountains are venomous to humans because of their external poisonous spines and hairs.

While looking at the tree to find all of the caterpillars, I found a round, clay, vase like structure with a hole in it. I have seen these on other plants around the yard. They are obviously some sort of bug home.

round clay like structure made by bugs

Webbing with caterpillar poop.

closeup of clay like structure in tree made by bugs

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Burgess Seed & Plant Co Disappoints Me, Continued

In a previous post I have described how terrible my experience with Burgess Seed & Plant Co has been.

As I noted, I told them on the phone to NOT send the replacement plants in the Fall because I didn’t want left over junk that sat in the greenhouse all summer AND the plants would not survive out long summer.  That is exactly what happened, they send the replacement plants in the Fall.  The plants were already dormant and re-bloomed in the Fall only to die when the cold weather got here.

burgess plant company dead plants

This is a closeup of dead boysenberries.  The yellow circle marks the rotted stem at soil level.  This is a clear indication that the Burgess plant is dead.

Some of Burgess’ plants sprouted out after arrival in our hot fall weather, some never leafed out – neither in the fall nor the next spring.

more dead burgess plants

As previously posted, this is my Burgess replacement shipment.  I later found out that the 3 raspberries, the big bunch of dried out bare roots in the front center, must always keep their roots moist.  Huh?  Burgess threw them bare rooted in the bag with nothing to keep them moist.  Those 3 green trees are dying Colorado Blue Spruce.  They were browning and dropping needles when they arrived.  Look at all those dried, bare roots.  They didn’t make it.

burgess vs gurneys shipping practices

For a comparison, all of my Gurneys plants were individually, carefully and very nicely wrapped.  I was impressed.  All most all of their plants survived.

burgess vs gurneys plant web sites

This is my Burgess replacement plant mailing label.  Of all these plants, only 1 pecan tree and the Tophat blueberry survived!  I noted no substitutions, but they substituted the dead chestnut trees with some kind of ornamental cherry, both of which also died after they bloomed out in the fall.

Burgess turned out to be a $100 money pit for me.  A $100 of plants delivered too late, were of poor quality and died.  The one-time guarantee replacement was sent, against my request, in the fall and re-sprouted thinking my hot fall was spring – since they were dormant when arrived.  My experience with Burgess was a total disaster.

mail label for dead on arrival burgess plant order

Next Spring, my purchased plants will be from Gurneys.

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I’m Still Extremely Upset With Burgess Seed & Plant Co.

As spring marches in, I am seeing more of the poor, sorry plants that Burgess sent me.

This picture shows my 3 dead Colorado Blue Spruces, shriveled up brown dead lavender and the poplar trees that leafed out as soon as the replacement order reached me last fall, only to have the leaves soon die.  I know for sure that the poplar trees, cherry trees and spruces are dead – the cherry & poplar trees currently have raised spots of rot at the base of the stem.  The Lilly of the Valley have never displayed any sign of life.  I believe they are dead on arrival.

burgess dead on arrival replacement plants that are replacing the original dead on arrival plants

Time will tell whether the pecan tree, hazlenuts, paw paw trees, honeysuckle, boysenberry, raspberry and elderberries leaf out.

The Cherry trees that were sent as a replacement for the original dead chestnut trees, also leafed out upon arrival in the fall.  They quickly faded and never awoke this spring.  Total screw up on Burgess’s part – they send dormant trees to hot, still-summer Texas only to have the plants leaf out then die.

Look at this mail label – almost everything I originally bought had to be replaced!  And then, the replacements died.

 

mail label of burgess replacement order

I am so disappointed!  I spent over $100 on their plants.  The original order was shipped too late and the plants were in bad shape.  Most never made it.  So, in the fall I followed their warranty procedure.  At that time I told them that I did not want them to ship worn out plants that had sat around the greenhouse all summer.  Against my request, they sent me those very plants in the fall.

eBurgess.com’s warranty is no good!  They replace defective plants with a one-time replacement warranty of more defective plants.

Overall, I feel that the $150 or so that I spent with burgess was money totally wasted.

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e Burgess.com Replacement Shipment

I am not very pleased with the plants that I purchased from Burgess (eburgess.com) last spring, 2015.  The shipment was several months late.  When the plants finally arrived, they were in poor condition and past prime spring planting time.  Most of them died, so I took Burgess up on their replacement warranty.  This is the replacement order they sent.  The fir trees you see are Colorado Blue Spruce.  The 3 Spruce in the original order were DOA on arrival, as was much of the shipment.  These replacement trees went immediately into tree pots.  They immediately started to drop needles and are now dead.  This is how the plants came out of the large green plastic shipping bag – some are wrapped in plastic, some just dried out bare root.  Not very impressive.   The 3 fat stems with the dried brown root mass are 3 replacement raspberries.

burgess nursery replacement shipment

This is another replacement tree.  I’m sorry that I didn’t make note what tree was which, but they all looked rather sorry.

burgess nursery replacement shipment

This small bare root tree has one of it’s 2 stems broken.

burgess nursery replacement shipment

What a sad looking tree.

burgess nursery replacement shipment

Well, it’s been a warm February and some of my trees are already budding out.  Most of my Burgess.com trees aren’t looking too good and I know some are dead because there are fungus bumps at the soil line and when I scratch a tiny bit of bark it is black, not white or green.

I’ll give an update report in a few months after they all should be budded out and see what the death count is.  Burgess only offers a one time replacement, so the sorry plants they sent out this past fall are my replacements for the late shipment of disaster they sent in the spring of 2015.  Pretty bad over-all experience with Burgess.

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White Flies – Minuscule Bug, Massive Damage

This past season I was plagued by White Flies, a new problem for me, especially in the greenhouse.

The vicious end result of an explosion of white flies is the death of the plant.  The tiny, barely visible pests secrete a sticky substance called honeydew.  This honeydew causes fungus to grow on it and creates a black coating on the affected plant leaves.  This plant is a baby osage orange tree.  (The flies seem to especially like osage orange trees.)  Before you know what is happening, the leaves are covered with a drying, crusty black coating.  Here, I have sprayed water on the leaves and tried to rub some of it off.

black crust from honeydew caused by white flies

I googled around and found that insecticidal soap was the best natural treatment for them.  I used numerous applications of liquid soap – Murphy Wood Oil soap – increasing soap content percentage each try and nothing killed them.  The soap may have killed the flies that it actually landed on, but it obviously did nothing for the eggs and nymphs that were all over the underside of the leaves.  The next day, flies were all over the place again – either the ones I sprayed the day before, or a new hatching.  I also used my old favorite, neem oil, but that didn’t work either.

These are some white flies on the underside of flower leaves.  They are all over on most of the leaves.

white flies under leaves

There are so many flies that they are also on the top of the leaves.  They are tiny white bugs and the other spots are either eggs or nymphs – so tiny I can’t see them clearly.

white flies on top of leaves

The white fly is very tiny, maybe about 1/12 of an inch.  This past fall they were getting so bad all over the yard that they killed my large Cypress Vine planting and were getting all over the remaining garden plants.  Outside of the greenhouse, I didn’t spray the poison because there were other bugs that seemed to keep them in check.  However, inside the greenhouse, they were breeding rapidly and getting all over all of my plants that I was slowly bringing inside for the coming winter.  They even ruined numerous pots of Rosemary, Gum trees and other strong oiled plants.  Over just a few weeks, they contaminated almost every plant so I had to do something drastic.  That was to buy a bottle of Bifen I/T.  I read extensively online about killing white flies in the greenhouse and this seemed the best answer to solve the problem.  Several applications seemed to take care of the problem.  I didn’t want to do it, but I couldn’t let them survive and thrive overwinter in the greenhouse.

As of early February, I haven’t noticed a white fly problem.

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American Sweet Gum Trees Don’t Transplant Easily

We have American Sweet Gum tree seedlings popping up all over the place. Most of them pop up in the wrong places and I try to transplant the nicest looking ones. They do not transplant easily. I take a big scoop of dirt from around 8 to 12 inch seedlings and when the dirt crumbles I can see that most roots are intact. I place them in nursery pots with my usual tree soil mix. I’m lucky if half of them make it. Some trees transplant easily, sweet gums not so. If I accidentally cut the tap root, the gum tree definitely will not make it. And the ones that do survive in pots don’t always seem to thrive like the ones popping up around the yard do.

american sweet gum trees don't transplant easily

I just hate to see a nice looking tree seedling go to waste, that is why I try to save to many of them. The ones that look the nicest seem to sprout in unfortunate locations!

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Two Buckeyes Rise From The Dead

I didn’t take enough care of these 2 buckeyes. I kept them in these pots and watered them, but they shriveled up and it looked like they died. I decided to just leave these 2 in the pots (I discarded a third pot). After 3 months of summer, I took a closer look at these pots and noticed that each had a few inch stem that looks exactly like the end of buckeye branches. These are buckeyes!

buckeyes come back to life

I had left these 2 pots alone all summer because each had an elm growing in it. Next spring they both get planted in the woods!

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Pine Seedlings EVERYWHERE!

It is really an amazing thing, pine seedlings are everywhere in the spring.  These are some small seedlings that I dug up because they were in the way in a garden bed.  This pic is a few weeks old – they all made it and are several inches taller now.  I can’t help myself, when I turn over the garden beds, I can’t help but dig up nice looking seedlings and replant them in pots and grow them in the greenhouse until this fall or next spring and plant them all over the place.  I currently have a few hundred pine seedlings in the greenhouse.  They have all put on a few inches of nice new, light green growth.
potting baby pines

The smaller pine seedlings growing on this red clay bank are a year old.  The taller tree out front is only 2 1/2 years old.  The little sprouts can grow quickly, even in red clay.
reforestation marches on

I drew a red line next to some pine tree seedlings that had just begun to sprout.  Can hardly take a step in the woods with out stepping on sprouts.
pine seedlings every step

The next foot step – more sprouts.  It is amazing.  They are trying to wiggle out of their seed.  The seed is still attached at the top of these sprouts.
the next step is filled with pine seedlings

Pine seeds rain down from the pines from about September to February.  Out of a thousand seeds, maybe one might grow to a tree – maybe one.  The sprouts will have to be strong with deep roots to survive the hot dry summer that is coming.

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My Baby Arbor Day Oaks

I couldn’t get these planted yet so I put them in these pots until I can find a place for them.  They are 10 oaks, 2 each of Red, Scarlet, Willow, Pin and Bur oaks.  They look like they are doing OK, the buds look like they are doing fine also.

Arbor day baby oaks

The instructions say do not plant these baby trees in potting soil, so I mixed up a wheel barrow of my own soil which I make from composted hardwood bard, compost, black cow compost, peat moss, perilite and sometimes some vermiculite.  That baby tree in the ground in front is an American Sweet gum.  Trees sprout everywhere here as we are surrounded by the woods.  Most of my oaks are White oak and Water oak so I really am excited about these other oaks.

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Baby White Oaks

This past fall was the year most of the giant white oaks around here dropped their acorns.  Since they only do this every 2 or 3 years, I gathered a few hundred of the acorns – at least half of them after they started to sprout all over the ground.  For many of those acorns sprouting all over the place, I walked thru the woods and planted them here and there, giving them a chance to grow – they won’t be able to grow up under the big trees in the yard where they  sprouted..  For the chosen few hundred, I have them rooting in pots.

This is one of them.  They send out roots first and then a few months later they send up the tree.  This little sprout has the potential to grow into 60+ foot beauties.

white oak sprout

In 50 years or so, maybe this little guy will look like this:

white oak

I haven’t tried to grow so many oak seedling before, so I’ll have to see how it goes.  I have stacks of used greenhouse tree pots and I make my own potting soil using bags of cheap, sandy ‘compost’, black-cow compost, bags of commercial pine and hardwood mulch that has been in the bag and composting for a few years, and add some vermiculite and perilite.  I also now add Azomite to my potting soil.

We don’t have a very large population of squirrels around here, so the few hundred acorns that I sprout shouldn’t affect them much.

The red oak acorns, mostly turkey oaks and water oaks, are chilling in moist peat moss in the refrigerator until this spring.

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