En­joy col­or­ful leaves, warm weather while you can

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - Bob Bey­fuss Gar­den Tips

In­dian sum­mer has been de­fined as a pe­riod of warm weather fol­low­ing a hard frost. Last week, we had about three days of this re­ally nice weather al­most im­me­di­ately fol­low­ing our first hard frost, last week­end. We even broke the record for heat on Tues­day, Oct. 18, when the ther­mome­ter hit 84 de­grees in Al­bany! I sat out­side on my deck un­til mid­night in a short-sleeved shirt and got to see some shoot­ing stars as a bonus. I don’t ex­pect to be able to en­joy these con­di­tions again in 2016.

Our fall col­ors were spec­tac­u­lar, as usual, this year, de­spite my con­cerns about the sum­mer-long drought hav­ing a se­ri­ous im­pact. I had to drive well over 1,000 miles this past week and the views were awe­some!

How­ever, the re­cent windy days, rain and cold tem­per­a­tures are quickly knock­ing the leaves down, and, by next week­end, we will be look­ing at lots of bare trees. This beauty fades much too quickly each fall.

One phe­nom­ena that of­ten ac­com­pa­nies In­dian sum­mer was very ev­i­dent last Tues­day and Wed­nes­day as thou­sands of in­sects sud­denly woke up dur­ing the warm spell and con­gre­gated on houses and out­build­ings. These in­sects are seek­ing out a shel­tered lo­ca­tion to spend the winter and your house will do fine! The main species of in­sects I no­ticed this year were la­dy­bee­tles, west­ern conifer seed bugs, box­elder bugs and cluster flies, but I also heard of large num­bers of mos­qui­toes sud­denly ap­pear­ing.

La­dy­bee­tles or la­dy­bugs are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered ben­e­fi­cial in­sects, be­cause they feed on many dif­fer­ent pests both as adults and even more so in their lar­val form. Un­for­tu­nately, the species of la­dy­bug that has been so con­spic­u­ous here was im­ported from Asia and it has pretty much dis­placed the na­tive species.

The la­dy­bee­tle emits an “ag­gre­ga­tion pheromone” that at­tracts other la­dy­bee­tles. In some cases, they are so nu­mer­ous as to cover the sunny side of a build­ing. Most of these in­sects are look­ing for a com­fort­able place to spend the winter, and that means they may end up in­side your house all winter in the wall voids or other refuges. When the heat is turned on, they may some­times wake up and fly around. They can and do bite peo­ple on oc­ca­sion, and, while not nearly as painful as a bee sting or as per­sis­tent as a mos­quito bite, it is still pretty an­noy­ing.

The west­ern conifer seed bug is of­ten called a “stink bug,” be­cause it emits a rather foul odor when dis­turbed. I think it smells like citrus and do not find the scent all that un­pleas­ant. The bugs are large, awk­ward and un­gainly, how­ever, and slightly re­sem­ble clumsy fly­ing cock­roaches. They have a long, shield­shaped body, long legs, long an­ten­nae and what ap­pears to be a large “W” on their back.

As far as I know, they

do not bite but they are also very un­wel­come in most houses! Cluster flies look like large house­flies that of­ten spin around on their backs re­sem­bling in­sect “break danc­ing”.

Once these pests are in­side your house or in the walls and at­tic, there is lit­tle you can do ex­cept vac­uum them up as no­ticed all winter. Some busi­nesses or in­sti­tu­tions such as hos­pi­tals have their ex­te­rior walls sprayed with a pre­ven­tive in­sec­ti­cide in late Au­gust by com­mer­cial ex­ter­mi­na­tors, and this does get rid of most of them, but I am afraid it is a bit too late for that treat­ment right now.

En­joy the wan­ing days of golden leaves, golden sun­sets and, as I

am re­minded each year, golden years for us se­niors. Soon, I will re­turn to Florida to fish and en­joy

the good life with my kids and Grand­kids!

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