Garden Q&A: How to keep America beautiful and getting rid of squash bugs
By Ellen Nibali
Jul 02, 2020 at 7:00 AM
I want to add plants in my yard to help our environment and keep America beautiful. How can I do that to make the biggest impact — but still look good?
To keep America beautiful, we all have to pitch in. Much of our native environment is being lost, so quickly, that even saving national parks isn’t enough. Wildlife need connected, not fragmented, environments.
Imagine if we can all have a puddle in our yard — that still isn’t going to help fish! Same goes for land creatures. They need connected environments, so they can move as food supplies come and go from one season to the next and their needs for nesting or protection change. When safe, livable environments are not contiguous or too small or too spread out, creatures die getting from one to the other. A turtle crossing the road is the poster child for that!
So, join your plants together into planting areas or beds. Try to back them up to your neighbor’s as well. Use native plants, everything from trees down to groundcovers. Maryland has many spectacular native plants, such as the sweetspire (Itea virginica) pictured, with summer flowers and pretty fall foliage that can spread into a nice stand 3-5 feet high. Remove non-native invasive plants. (Yes, this calls for eternal vigilance.) Our home landscapes, altogether, will make a future national park.
Look at the Native Plants topic on the Home and Garden Information Center website. The online publication, “Native Plants for Wildlife Habitats and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed” has good photos, charts for each Maryland native, and lists.
What lays gold eggs underneath cucumber leaves? Are they a pest?
Squash bugs lay gold eggs. Another pest, the squash beetle, lays bright yellow elliptical-shaped eggs. Squash bugs are a significant sucking insect pest, and it’s worth turning over leaves to find and destroy the egg masses before the nymphs hatch out.
Either mash the egg masses with your fingers (they are kind of rubbery, so bear down) or tear out the small sections of leaf with the eggs. Drop them into a container of soapy water or stomp on them.
University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.