Beetles and cedar rust alarming some homeowners

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 28, 2013

SALISBURY — With warm, humid temperatures approaching, many people will be working in both vegetable gardens and in the landscape. With wet, humid weather, problems will occur. Below are a few questions posed to Cooperative Extension this week that may be of interest to those working outdoors.
Question: I found this huge bug in my yard today and I was afraid it may be poisonous or would attack my trees. What is this giant bug and will it kill my trees?
Answer: The insect is a staghorn beetle. It feeds on decaying bark and wood. The beetle evidently is more of an oddity than a menace. Go to for more detailed information about the insect.
Question: I have planted a new apple tree and it is growing very well, however, I noticed some orange spots on the leaves. Can you tell me what these are and how I may control them? Will it kill the tree?
Answer: Your tree most likely has cedar apple rust. It is a fungus disease on both apple and cedar trees. The disease can be a problem if planted near cedar trees. Some cultivars are resistant. Sprays may help, but the disease usually does not kill the tree. Go to for more complete information on fruit tree diseases, including cedar apple rust.
Question: I have a new fig tree that is growing like crazy, but it doesn’t have any fruit. Can I put some type of special fertilizer on the plant to promote fruit production?
Answer: It sounds like it has too much fertility. The recent rains and warm temperatures spark aggressive growth. If the plants are excessively vigorous, stop fertilizing them. The plants may be three or four years old before they mature. Most fig cultivars have a long juvenile period before producing edible, quality fruit. Go to for more detailed information on home fig production.
Question: While painting the other day, a yellow bug flew into my ear. I almost fell off the ladder. What is this bug?
Answer: The insect is most likely a soldier beetle, also known as a leatherwing. They are very common insects that feed on other insects and are considered beneficial. Go to for more detailed information.
Question: There is a plant at the corner of your office that had beautiful yellow blooms a few weeks ago. It is on the corner of the sidewalk. Can you tell me what the plant is?
Hypericum sp.) the plant can be used as a foundation or groundcover. Go to for more detailed information about the plant.

Darrell Blackwelder is the county Extension director with horticulture responsibilities with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Call 704-216-8970.