No escaping pests in this cool, wet summer

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 9, 2013

SALISBURY — Normally, in August, Rowan County experiences a heat wave, but unusual weather this past week reminds us more of October than August. Unfortunately, the weather has not slowed insects and diseases. These problems are starting to become a serious threat in both vegetable gardens and landscapes. Below are a few inquires received over the past few days that you may relate to your outdoor endeavors.
Question: I have used an older insecticide in the bagworms in my Leyland cypress and they don’t seem to be working. What can I use to control them?
Answer: Bagworms are more difficult to control as they mature, especially in late summer. These insects are impossible to kill once the larva pupates in the cocoon. There are many insecticides, far too many to list, that may work for controlling bagworms. Go to for the complete list and more detailed information. Read and follow the label carefully before application.
Question: I found this yellow sticky substance in my yard yesterday while I was mowing. Is this some type of fungus?
Fuligo septica or the “dog vomit” slime mold. The mold was featured in an earlier article, but it can be different colors and shapes. The fungus is completely harmless to humans, animals and plants.
Question: I was working in my yard this week and was apparently stung by a fire ant. I don’t have any fire ant mounds in my yard. I thought they would have a mound?
Answer: Fire ants can be spread by lawnmowers, digging and other equipment. The insects are very good at relocating under the cover of weeds, flowers, flower pots and even vegetables. It’s not unusual for fire ants to sting when obvious mounds are not present. Go to for more detailed information about fires ants and their control.
Question: We have an oak tree which is oozing sap near the base of the tree. Insects and even hummingbirds are attracted and swarming the tree. Is our tree in danger? Can we spray for insects?
Answer: The situation for your tree is called “slime flux” or wet wood. It’s a common problem on mature oaks and other trees. It is not a serious problem if the tree is otherwise healthy. Wet wood is caused when bacteria invade a wound or injury. The fermenting wet wood-causing bacteria produce a gas which pressurizes the fluid in the wood under the bark. When enough pressure is created, the gas causes the wet wood liquid to ooze, flux or bubble through the bark. Go to for more detailed information about slime flux.
Darrell Blackwelder is county Extension director at the Rowan County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension. 704-216-8970