Lightning Bugs Beneficial Insects

The Garden Clock

By Pauline Keegan

Do lightning bugs damage plants?

No, the lightning bugs, also called fireflies, that you see on summer evenings are all males looking for lady friends. The females do not have wings, they wait in the grass flashing their light to attract males. These are beneficial insects. The larvae eat the eggs of slugs and grasshoppers, as well as small maggots and caterpillars.

Should I pinch the suckers off my pepper plants as is suggested for tomato plants?

To pinch or not to pinch is a constant topic among gardeners. Pinching tomatoes results in fewer tomatoes, but larger ones. With peppers it is best to not pinch and let the plant form a good leaf canopy to protect the fruit from sun scald.

Can I use hardwood sawdust from a box company as a mulch. Must it be composted first?

Sawdust can be used as a mulch on top of the ground where it will decay slowly. If it is dug into the soil, it will use up nitrogen in the decaying process.

How can I get  rid of poison ivy that is growing in my crownvetch, without killing the vetch?

Unless you want to pull or dig each poison ivy plant with a gloved hand, you will have to sacrifice some of the crownvetch. Spot spray the menace with an herbicide containing 2,4D. The crown vetch will quickly fill in the spaces.

Send your gardening and landscaping questions and tips to Washington County Master Gardeners, 2536 N. McConnell Ave., Fayetteville, 72704 or  call 444-1755.

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