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Garden Q&A: Emerald ash borer

What is a good replacement for ash trees killed by emerald ash borer? I live on the Eastern shore, and I understand that many ash trees will be killed.

Virtually all ash in the state of Maryland will be killed by this invasive insect. It will be a double whammy on the Eastern Shore, where green ash and pumpkin ash are the dominant trees in many wetlands. Their roots both stabilize soil and catch sediment which otherwise would wash into the Chesapeake Bay. New plants, good and bad, will move into the vacancy created. Any native tree is a preferable choice, as it can help support the natural ecosystem. Only some trees will grow well in wetlands or other wet sites. No matter what your site, you can go online to Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed an illustrated publication from U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which has lists of plants for specific growing environments, with individual profiles on each plant.

We found silverfish upstairs and down. Bathroom, too. What can we use to get rid of them?

You might have silverfish or firebrats. They are both about a half inch long, tapering at both ends with two antennae and three long tails as skinny as the antennae. Both like it moist, but silverfish prefer cool places, while firebrats, as their name suggests, go for warmth. Check basements, under sinks and anywhere there could be a source of dampness from leaky plumbing or condensation, and correct it. These insects eat carbohydrates and proteins in foods, paper products or fabrics. Kitchens and pantry areas should be thoroughly cleaned, and food stored in containers with tight fitting lids. Clean up outdoor hiding places adjacent to your house, such as lumber piles or debris. Use chemical control as a last resort. Silica-based gels and boric acid powders can be applied with plastic squeeze bottles. Read publication HG 5: Silverfish on the HGIC website.

University of Maryland Extension's Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at Click "Ask Maryland's Gardening Experts" to send questions and photos.

Digging Deeper


The story goes that this American native was snubbed on these shores for its coarse and unruly nature. Then while American eyes were dazzled by exotics, the humble ninebark was embraced and developed overseas. Now 'rediscovered' here, ninebark is available in varieties offering purple or yellow foliage and a range of heights. Best of all, we now appreciate our dependable and perfectly fine native species. In spring, its tidy balls of blooms, known as corymbs, cover the shrub in white or pink. Reddish seed capsules and exfoliating papery bark extend the season for months. Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) is very adaptable, preferring sun to part shade and moderate to wet soils, but extremely drought-tolerant. Reaching 5-12 feet, the growth habit of ninebark is a loose mound similar to a large spirea and does well incorporated into a shrub border or natural planting. Benefiting wildlife and virtually pest and disease free, ninebark deserves its newfound status.

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