Friday, August 10, 2012

Honeydew! (not the melon...)

Have you stood under a tree recently and felt "raindrops" falling onto you?  Or maybe you've discovered your car or patio furniture covered in a sticky mess?  Or, maybe similar to my're walking the dog and walk across a part of the sidewalk that causes your shoes to stick?  This is all from honeydew and it seems to be covering Central Texas at the moment.

Aphids being tended by acrobat ants.
Honeydew is the plant sugars that pass through the digestive track of aphids, so to put it bluntly- aphid poop.  Honeydew is sticky and can look like shiny droplets covering surface.  When you have a large population of aphids, then more honeydew is produced and that's when things get messy.  To make things even messier, honeydew can attract a fungus called sooty mold.  Sooty mold is black and grows on the honeydew covered areas.

So why all the honeydew now?  Just think of it as the perfect storm for aphids.  Remember back in July when we had all the rain and it was pouring every day for almost a week?  Wouldn't that be nice right about now?  I it's possible that the weather knocked down populations of natural enemies of aphids.  Yes, it would have knocked down the populations of aphids too, but aphids have the capability of reproducing rapidly and they do a much better job and increasing their population than their natural enemies.  When the natural enemies aren't available to keep the population down to a suitable level, the aphid population explodes and goes to town feeding on trees (and other plants) and creating honeydew and causing a huge mess.

If you are dealing with aphids and/ or honeydew right now, I would suggest blasting them with a high pressure water spray.  That suggestion may or may not be feasible for you depending on how tall the tree is that you are dealing with.  Treating the tree with an insecticide to reduce the aphid population is really not recommended, but if you feel that you MUST treat with an insecticide, then please hire a professional that has proper application equipment and BE AWARE OF DRIFT!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beekeeping basics class in Bexar County

If you are interested in beekeeping or want to know what it entails to be a beekeeper, Texas AgriLife Extension in Bexar County will be hosting a Beekeeping Basics program, September 28- 29 2012.  The course is meant for those with very little to absolutely no experience with beekeeping.  The idea is to help those who have thought about starting a hive for honey production, hobby, environmental stewardship, etc.

This is a great program; you will learn a lot about beekeeping and bee biology.  This in Bexar County's second program, and it is highly recommended that you attend the field day on the 29th, as that is where you will learn the most about the everyday beekeeping world.  You will get to touch a beehive, wear a beesuit, manipulate the hive, do an inspection and really learn what a typical beekeepers day is all about.

September 28th is a classroom day, starting at 9AM and ending at 3PM.  Lunch and snacks will be provided.  Cost is $50, made out to the Bexar County Master Gardeners.  The class tends to fill up very fast so sign up early if you are interested.  Please see the following link for more information:

What: Beekeeping basics class
When: September 28-29, 2012
Where: Bexar County Extension Office 3355 Cherry Ridge, Suite 212 San Antonio, TX 78230
Cost: $50 (made out to Bexar County Master Gardeners)