I found an egg case when pruning my shrub. It has light brown "Styrofoam," like a praying mantis egg case, but it's narrow with a cross hatch down the back. Will this hatch caterpillars?
In the spring, your egg mass will hatch cute baby Carolina praying mantises, our native species. (The bulkier egg masses commonly seen are from Chinese or European praying mantises.) The praying mantis is a deft predator whose strategy is to remain perfectly still until its prey — such as stink bugs — comes close and then pounce. You'll want this beneficial insect patrolling your garden. If you've already pruned off the branch with the egg mass, simply tuck that portion into a shrub until it hatches next spring.
I'm getting too old to spray deer repellant constantly. Do I have to give up on my garden?
Try a granular product that you can sprinkle around plants. Success has been reported with Deer Scram, for instance. Remember to rotate products so that deer do not become too accustomed to the scent. Meanwhile, switch to plants that deer usually ignore. There are many excellent choices. Our website has a list of plants by deer resistance under the Wildlife category.
University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information. Call 800-342-2507 or send a question to the website at extension.umd.edu/hgic.
Plant of the Week
Crab apple trees can be more than one-season wonders. Besides their fabulous spring flowers, winter trees can be red with crab apples and alive with feasting birds. To attract birds, plant trees that produce small crab apples. Birds also favor crab apples that must freeze and thaw several times before they're edible. Some are native plants. Good choices to attract birds include Sargent, Sargent Tina, Adirondack, Snowdrift, Profusion, Indian Magic, Harvest Gold, Ormiston Roy and Prairiefire. Avoid varieties with fruit that birds are known to dislike (Adams, Donald Wyman and Red Jewel) and those that do not fruit (Spring Snow or Prairie Rose) or fruit in alternate years (such as Bob White, David and Evelyn). Adaptable crab apple trees do best planted in full sun and moist, well-drained, acid loam soil. —Ellen Nibali