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Spring snow won't hurt flowering gardens (Released: 4/17/96)

by Renu Sehgal, Office of University Communications.

Last week's snow won't hurt springtime mums or newly seeded lawns.

''The snow probably won't do any harm. The bulbs can take it,'' said Paul Stake, coordinator of the Cooperative Extension System center in Norwich. ''It's not that cold out. Snow itself isn't going to hurt anything that's flowering. None of the fruit trees have opened, so they're not a problem. It's not good for them, but it won't hurt them.''

For those gardeners who have already seeded their lawns, Stake said the seeds will wait for spring to continue.

''The snow will retard germination. The seeds will sit in dormancy, but they'll come back,'' he said. ''In general, there's nothing to worry about.''

Meanwhile, warm weather may have prompted Asian lady beetles to reside in or around your home. The beetles, Harmonica axyridis (Pallas), is a beneficial insect that eats pecan aphids as well as 50 other types of aphids and soft-bodied insects that are pests of the ornamental rose, crape myrtle, plum, peach, apple, magnolia, clover, cabbage, vetch, pine, tulip tree, maple and other plants.

The beetles also are called the multicolored Asian lady beetle, the Halloween lady beetle, the Japanese lady beetle or the Asian lady bug, according to Patsy Evans, editor of Hort Impact. The newsletter is published by the Department of Plant Science at the University of Connecticut's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The beetles were imported into the country as biological controls in California, Georgia and other parts of the South, East and Northwest, but seemed to vanish. Scientists found an established population in Louisiana in 1988. The beetles were first recorded in Connecticut in spring 1994.

In late summer and early fall, the lady beetles enter houses through cracks and crevices. To keep the beetles out, screen windows, doors and exhaust vents. Weatherstrip or caulk cracks and openings. Dark colors, which are least attractive to the lady beetles, can be chosen for exterior paint, Evans said.

''The lady beetles are not harmful to humans, do not sting and do not feed on wood, clothing, carpets, draperies or human food,'' Evans said. ''They also will not reproduce indoors.''

Evans suggests sweeping out live lady beetles or encourage them to fly through open windows. But be careful to get rid of dead lady beetles because certain harmful insects, such as carpet beetles, are attracted to them and could start feeding on your carpets and linens once their food source is gone.

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