I don’t particularly like spiders but tolerate them to some degree. Daddy long legs tolerate being picked up by a leg and then released outdoors. Ticks on the other hand are a totally different matter.
Ticks jump on unaware victims, bite, and cause rasps and itching where it is difficult to scratch. The tiny “seed ticks” are the worst, as they are all but invisible. I know how to dress defensively and body check, and clothes immediately go in the washer.
Now we have a new tick heading west. It arrived in the country three years ago and is in New York to South Carolina and West Virginia. The Asian longhorned tick has been found in eastern Kentucky and Metcalfe County (Edmonton).
It is relatively small, dark brown, oval-ish and has no markings. Jonathan Larson, UK Extension entomologist, said, “It is an aggressive biter. One reason for their rapid build-up is that the female ticks can lay eggs without mating.”
A single female will produce thousands of eggs on a single animal. It will attack wild and domestic animals, as well as humans. Of particular concern is the thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus that infects pets, cattle and game animals. If a large number of ticks are on a pet, you are advised to contact your vet.
Though longhorneds will bite humans, the virus is not transmitted, but other diseases may be. Remove any tick immediately, as they feed for 24 hours before infecting. It is repelled by the aroma of lemon, orange, cinnamon, lavender and particularly peppermint.
To remove a tick, use a tweezer to hold the body, gently pull straight up, and clean the area and hands with alcohol.
The deadliest tick-born illness is Rocky Mountain. Since 1944 when antibiotics for the virus became available, fatalities dropped from 28% to less than 5%.
THINGS TO DO
• Garden — Cover bare soil with mulch to hold soil moisture and reduce weeds moving into the area.
Purchase perennials to plant now for next year’s flowers. Add a soil wetting agent to improve the soil’s ability to hold water until needed. Precisely follow instructions if using crystals, as a little goes a long way.
Plant rudbeckia, mums and sedum. Deadhead beebalm, blackberry lily, coreopsis, salvia and other perennials if not saving seed. Removing the seed heads directs the plant’s energy to the root system. Cut back annuals not actively growing, fertilize and thoroughly water in.
Control broadleaf weeds with a post-emergent. It will not kill but slow down the growth.
• Trees — Two trees worth adding to the garden: The Golden Rain tree’s yellow 12-inch panicles appear in June, and by August lantern-like seed pods hang well into late fall. Crape myrtle blooms in July and depending on the variety and continues 3-4 months.
• Vegetables — Harvest and water tomatoes daily, removing those with blossom end rot or cracking that is caused by a dry period followed by heavy rain.
Inspect plants for insects. Ants feeding on cabbage honeydew is an indication that cabbageworms are present. Hose off, apply two doses of insecticidal soap top, bottom and in crevices one week apart. To control powdery mildew on squash, spray with a mixture of 1 gallon water, 1 tablespoon baking soda and one-half teaspoon dish soap. The soap breaks the surface tension, making the soda more active. There is no treatment for fusarium tomato wilt that infects the roots. It remains in the soils infecting next year’s plants. Remove plants, do not compost. Rotate plants, solarize the soil and biological fungal drench.
Fruit trees are susceptible to fungus. Prune out dead wood several inches into the live wood.
Sterilize the pruner after each cut. Prune when the tree and soil are dry and remove fallen fruit and foliage. Follow with a fungicide.
Reach Carolyn Roof, the Sun’s gardening columnist, at email@example.com.