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Danélle Cutting answers questions that bug you

Fire ants

Submitted photo Pests are already a problem this year, such as these fire ants that have infested a raised bed.

We have had quite a few calls to identify insects, and there is always the question of how to get rid of them. With news reports on concern over the Zika virus, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some methods of controlling pests in the garden. Here are some of the questions we have received this month:

Question: I always have issues with mosquitoes; what kind of fog spray can I use to kill them?

Answer: There are a few foggers on the market, but they only temporarily alleviate the issues. Oftentimes, the product kills more than just the mosquitoes and only lasts a few hours to a few days. Then, the mosquitoes return. The most effective thing that a homeowner can do is to reduce breeding sites. Locate areas that hold stagnant water. If you have old tires, buckets, containers, barrels, tarps, decorative garden ornaments or even rain barrels that have lost their mosquito screens, they need to be cleaned and water removed if you have a mosquito issue.

Bug zappers have not proven to be effective in controlling mosquitoes. Using mosquito dunks are easy for a homeowner to use, especially in rain barrels. Some natural methods are encouraging bats and purple martins to live in and around your area. They can help put a dent in the population and provide a habitat that can help out with their ecosystem as well. For more information on creating your own bat or purple martin house, visit: https://www.purplemartin.org/purple-martins/attracting/40/housing/ or https://njaes.rutgers.edu/pubs/fs1269/

For more information on controlling mosquitoes, visit: https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/mosquito.htm

Question: I attended your Do It Yourself (DIY) class on creating your own orchard and loved it! When will you have another class?

Answer: Our next class will be July 27 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office (2727 Old Concord Road). This class will go over common insects, diseases and weeds that pose problems for local gardeners. Participants will learn what it takes to identify pests properly and how to manage them in their own gardens.

It is highly encouraged to bring insects, diseases and weeds for proper identification since that is the most important step to starting a control plan. This is the only DIY class being offered during the week and in the evening. The class is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register for the DIY class, please call our office at 704-216-8970.

Question: When will the North Carolina Department of Agriculture (NCDA) guy come and certify my scales?

Answer: Glad you asked. He will be coming on June 21, from 8 to 11 a.m. at the Salisbury Farmers’ Market, 115 S. Jackson St. NCDA Inspector Richard Sigmon will be on site to certify scales. This is for anyone who has a scale that is legal for trade that needs to be certified every year for accuracy. The process is free, but you must bring your scales to the market for certification. If you sell by the pound at local markets, you are supposed to use a NCDA certified scale to make sure that you are weighing the appropriate amount. For more information, please call our office at 704-216-8970.

Every week, there is something new at the Cooperative Extension; you never know what will be waiting for you when you head into the office.

If you have any horticulture or gardening questions, would like to register for a class, or want more information on scale certification, please contact your local Cooperative Extension Agent, Danélle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or email her at danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu

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