Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

June 17, 2013

PLATEAU GARDENINGS: Beware of ticks, mosquitoes and chiggers, part 1

CROSSVILLE — "Plateau Gardening" reader Mike sent an inquiry asking when to transplant shrubs and trees. The gist of his message:

“I would like to move a rather large rhododendron (about 9’ high with a 5’ spread) and want to do it during the most beneficial timeframe for the plant. Also have an opportunity to relocate a couple of saucer magnolias. Would like to know the proper time to transplant them as well as the optimum light to put them in (full sun, partial shade, what?).”

The short, direct answer is that mid- to late autumn after leaves have dropped from deciduous trees and shrubs (indicating landscape plants have entered dormancy) up through January is the most beneficial period for transplanting the majority of woody-stemmed species in climatic regions with the relatively mild winters typical in Tennessee. Late spring/early summer is not a good time.

Before detailing reasons to plant or relocate woody plants later in the year, I want to first warn readers of a current danger from mosquito, tick and chigger bites. People, their pets and livestock are potential targets. Gardeners may encounter these pests in stands of weeds, tall grass, wildflowers or garden plants. Hikers, golfers and others active out in open air could encounter them while working or playing. They may be in yards or parks, on vegetation growing along hiking/walking trails or at the edge of woods, streams and pathways on golf courses.

During May and June, daytime air temperatures have been warm, the mercury at night above frost levels and rainfall plentiful. Water pools after rain storms. Mosquitoes use stagnant water to develop. The egg-to-adult mosquito life cycle can be completed in less than a week when temperatures are right (read the University of Tennessee Extension publication "Sp503-B Mosquito Control Around Homes"). Adult female mosquitoes hide in plants waiting to get a blood meal from passing animals.

Warmth and moisture encourage plant growth. In tall, thick, lush vegetation, the environment is humid even during hot, sunny daylight hours. That humidity helps keep insect numbers high. Expect a drop in insect populations there once spring rains give way to summertime periods of drought. While it is wet, chiggers are usually found in tall vegetation. During dry periods, expect to find chiggers in shady areas.

Mosquito, tick and chigger bites are itchy and annoying, at best. At worst, ticks and mosquitoes in Tennessee are potential carriers (vectors) for diseases they can pass to humans with a bite. In this state during 2012, a particularly high number of people were infected by the mosquito borne illnesses West Nile Virus and La Crosse Encephalitis and by tick borne problems like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Human Monocytic Ehrlichiosis and Lime Disease. There were some deaths. Since temperatures hit summer-like highs early in 2012 but those highs stayed away until late April this year, the number of such cases in 2013 should be lower.

Take precautions to avoid becoming a Centers for Disease Control statistic. Suggestions for avoiding bites and the possibility of contracting a subsequent mosquito borne or tick borne illness include:

1. First, stay away from mosquito, tick and chigger habitat by avoiding wooded or brushy areas, high vegetation and/or leaf litter.

2. Peak mosquito biting hours are from dusk through the night to dawn. Avoid outdoor activities during that time. 

3. When you are outside, use repellent and protective clothing with long sleeves and long pants with socks. 

4. Wear light colored clothing. Crawling ticks show up better on a light background. Female mosquitoes (they bite, the males don’t) are attracted to dark colors, warm body heat and carbon dioxide.

• • •  

Plateau Gardening is written by Master Gardeners for gardeners in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland Region.  Contact UT Extension Cumberland County at P.O. Box 483, Crossville, TN 38557 (484-6743) for answers to horticulture questions, free publications and how to become a Master Gardener. Send email comments or yard and garden inquiries to Master Gardener Rae, MGardenerRae@frontiernet.net. 

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • 20140412_110402.jpg Kids get creative at Youth Expo

    Cumberland Artisans for Creative Expression (CACE) held its annual Youth Expo Saturday, providing young people an opportunity to try their hand at a variety of artistic endeavors, from music and writing to painting and traditional crafts of weaving and spinning.

    April 17, 2014 4 Photos

  • AROUND THE TOWN: The Easter egg hunt that never was

    The Easter Bunny should be able to deliver his baskets in pretty nice weather this weekend. The Good Friday and Easter holiday weekend should feature much warmer temperatures than we had earlier this week when snow showers fell on Cumberland County. Cumberland County students were released Tuesday for spring break, but their last day of school for the week found snow and ice falling from the sky and temperatures in the 20s. Students will return to class on Monday.

    April 17, 2014

  • 127 Seniors.jpg Jay Fox performs for seniors after receiving new prosthesis

    On Friday, April 11, the members of the 127 Senior Center had another good time playing bingo and dominos. Bingo was called by Arlene Simmons and Helen Lord, and the bingo gifts were provided by Bob Folger of State Farm Insurance.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses

    Publised April 16, 2014.

    April 15, 2014

  • pleasant hill ramblings.jpg PLEASANT HILL RAMBLINGS: Pancake breakfast held for cancer research

    During the year various groups connected with the Pleasant Hill Elementary School provide a Saturday morning pancake breakfast to support the Relay for Life campaign.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fair Park.jpg Final audition planned for talent show

    Last auditions for Crossville’s Got Talent will be this Saturday, April 19, at 1 p.m. at the Fair Park Senior Center. The center is at 1433 Livingston Rd. It looks like another good show, so miss this one.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • PLATEAU GARDENING: Cool-season lawn grass fertilization and soil tests

    Recently, I got an inquiry about the right timing for homeowners who want to fertilize a cool-season lawn which has bare spots that need over-seeding. An email from a new resident in the Crossville area asked how to take a soil sample and where to have it tested. Since problems with the pH or fertility of the soil beneath can result in chronically thin grass with persistent bare places up top, testing the soil then correcting pH and fertility to match plant needs can be an important first step in maintaining your lawn.

    April 14, 2014

  • IMG953498.jpg It's a great day to fly a kite!

    April 10, 2014 3 Photos

  • Season of fundraising begins

    Spring is in full swing, and this mean there are a host of not-for-profit organizations in Crossville and Cumberland County hosting events over the next few weeks. The first event will begin this weekend with a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

    April 10, 2014

  • 4-25 N&N meeting.jpg Investigative forensic science close to home

    NCIS? CSI? Bones? All fictional! Here in East Tennessee, they have a real investigative forensic expert — Dr. Bill Bass.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo