Problems and pluses in the late summer garden

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 30, 2019

August has been providing typical summer weather of hot, muggy days with scattered showers in the afternoon. Many people have questions about their landscapes. Below are a few questions from Rowan County residents that may be of interest.

Question: I have a couple of trees including a crape myrtle tree that has limbs with heavy blooms that are getting in my way when I mow. Can I prune them now and not hurt the tree?

Answer: Yes, these trees can be judiciously pruned without damage in late summer and early fall. Light pruning will not kill these established trees. Make sure you do not leave stubs where you have pruned.

Submitted photo These are not bagworms, but fall webworms.

Question: I have bagworms in my redbud tree in the back yard. I’m worried that it may kill the tree. Will it kill my tree and what can I do to eliminate them and keep them from defoliating my tree?

Answer: The insects you’re speaking of are not bagworms but fall webworms. Even though it looks bad for the tree these worms will not kill the tree. These are immature caterpillars of a moth that typically hatches out in late summer and early fall. The caterpillars can be controlled by taking a stick and disrupting the webs and exposing the caterpillars to birds and other natural predators which will control them without insecticides. You can also prune out the limb to eliminate the insects. Go to for more detailed information on controlling the fall pests.

Question: There is a very large black and yellow spider in our yard in our flower bed. The kids next door come over sometimes and I am afraid this spider may be dangerous. Is this a poisonous spider and should I be concerned?

Answer: What you have is probably an orb weaver or garden spider (Argiope aurantia). Black and yellow garden spiders are generally not aggressive. However, if you handle the spider, it could bite. These are a very common garden spider that weaves intricate webs in order to catch their prey. It is not considered a dangerous spider but beneficial. Go to more complete information about spiders.

Question:  I have bees that are continuously harassing my hummingbirds at their feeder. Is there anything I can do to get rid of these insects?

Answer: There is no easy answer with this problem. Dripping feeders attract yellow jackets and other bees. You may want to purchase feeders that features a basin and doesn’t easily drip. Also, moving the feeders around the yard will often confuse the bees for a few days.