Q.We got ready to start a fire in our fireplace recently. When we opened the flue, dozens of light-green insects came crawling out. What kind of bug lives in a chimney, and what can I do about it?
A. Sounds like a horde of elm-leaf beetles found a safe haven in your chimney. I suspect you have some elm trees nearby.
Many different types of adult beetles are looking to over-winter in a snug spot, like a chimney. Sweep your invaders up and put them back outside. Then go ahead and light your fire.
Q. I'd love to grow some fruit trees in my back yard. Which one are easiest to take care off?
A. Asian pears, Japanese persimmons and figs may be your best bets. These trees can be held to a manageable size, and they have few pest problems. (Peach and apple trees tend to have the most pest problems.) The fig tree can be grown as a bush, PTC but it will need some winter protection or the top growth will be winter-killed.
Call the toll-free number below for fact sheets and more detailed information on recommended varieties and cultivation.
Q.I found three large, hairy spiders in my basement yesterday Where did they come from, and do I have to coexist with them?
A. They are probably some type of wolf spider. These hunters are strictly meat-eaters and are in your basement because it's warm and there is a food source - namely insects and other spiders. You can try to exclude them and all of the creatures that want to call your basement home by sealing up cracks and
openings around windows, doors and the foundation.
This Week's Checklist
1. Shred fallen leaves with a lawn mower or a string trimmer to hasten the breakdown process. Leaves should not be allowed to completely cover turf grass over the fall and winter.
2. Harvest green tomatoes before the first frost. Pickle them for later use, or ripen to eat right away by placing them in a closed bag or other container with a ripe apple. The apple gives off ethylene gas, which will help ripen the tomatoes.
3. Pick your large birdhouse, dipper and luffa gourds after frost kills the vines.
4. Stop feeding your pond fish when the air temperature drops below 50 degrees. The fish cannot properly digest food during cold weather. (Don't worry, they won't starve.)
Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www.agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.
Pub Date: 10/25/98