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MSU Extension Service

Home Grown is an educational, entertaining, question-answer column seen weekly in "News from the Genesee MSUE Office," a weekly newsletter for Genesee County Master Gardeners. Special thanks to the Genesee, Oakland and Livingston county MSU Extension offices for providing this service.

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This week's HomeGrown

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HOME GROWN 334

Yes, donít say it; I was bad. I didnít plant the bags of tulip and daffodil bulbs that I bought this fall. Now that there is snow on the ground, itís too late so what do I do other than throw the bulbs away?

Iíll let you in on a little secret that only the forest creatures and small furry rodents know. The ground is not frozen. As of the last day of 2005, the ground can still be accessed with a shovel or little fuzzy feet. If by some horrible bad luck, your soil is slightly frozen, dig under an area that is mulched. Itís been insulated. The next choice would be close to the house where the building has moderated the temperature. If your chosen spots arenít the ones you really wanted, wait until the bulbs have done their flowery thing and the leaves have begun to fade away. Then re-dig and place them in their end location. Let them spend their growing season undisturbed so they can be ready for the next year. Be aware that the daffodils will usually survive the best of your two choices. Every small critter loves tulip bulbs for dinner. Daffodils have the advantage of being poisonous. Tulips usually have several years where they do adequately and then decline. We are growing them far away from their preferred areas. Daffodils adapt nicely and will begin to naturalize. Thatís a fancy word for making more bulbs because they are pleased with southeast Michigan. Your penance for being bad is to get your shovel and plant those sweet little bulbs immediately. And no, you donít have to be on your knees to do it.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been finding boxelder bugs in one of my bedrooms. There is half a dozen or so every day. I have gone outside and there is nothing on the outside of the house. How are they getting in? Should we get the house sprayed?

They are already in; theyíre just getting more in. The grammar isnít good, but you should get the point. Your festive holiday guests have been napping oh so peacefully in the wall void between the outside and inside walls. The mild weather of the last several weeks has allowed the wall void to get warmer than usual. Warm temperatures rouse the dozing bugs from their state of dormancy. For them, it only means one thing. Spring has come and itís time to get back to the shining leaves. As they wander in a dazed condition around the wall void, they pass by cracks for the outside. Those are brutally cold. Then they pass by the cracks around the windows or baseboards and they are just right. They squeeze out and are suddenly on the indoor windowsill or carpet. They continue wandering in complete confusion until you end their quest by clubbing them with a shoe. Spraying the house will eliminate the ones that you currently see. My guess is that you have been sucking them up in the vacuum cleaner, whacking them or carefully grabbing them with a piece of paper and throwing them in the toilet. Those are the more common means of execution. Even if all the ones that are now in the bedroom are murdered, you will still have to pick them up. But spraying doesnít get to the source, which is behind the drywall. If companies had a product that was so long lasting that it would kill every bug that walked over it for months, I wouldnít want to be in the same house with it. Grit your teeth and keep eliminating your boxelder buddies the same way that you have been. Next May or June, check the outside of the house to see if anything can be caulked or sealed. Look especially carefully at the south and west sides of the house. Thatís the best solution for your annoying visitors.

Gretchen Voyle, MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture
Agent 517/546-3950

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