Why Use ARSStore.org ?
It's simple: You get the same low prices and benefit the American Rhododendron Society.
ARSStore.org has three divisions:
Whenever you make a purchase, you pay the same low price, but from 4% to 25% goes directly to the American Rhododendron Society IF you start in ARSStore.org.
The minimum referral fee of 4% quickly goes up to 6% when 7 items or more are purchased by all ARSStore.org customers in any given month. As more items are purchased the rate can go up as high as 8.5%. Realistically it probably won't go over 7%; that takes purchasing 111 items. 7.5% takes 321 items. 8% takes 631 items.
The logo merchandise has an earning rate of 17% on all items. So when you proudly wear the ARS emblem, you are benefiting the ARS.
Using ARSStore.org is very simple. Just go to ARSStore.org and from there select what interests you. Amazon.com sells just about everything. As long as you go to Amazon.com from ARSStore.org before making a purchase, the ARS gets a referral fee.
Canadians and Europeans can use the Main Store which uses Amazon.com, but the shipping can be expensive. The Canadian Store uses Amazon.ca, a Canadian affiliate, which carries many of the same things. If Amazon.ca has the item, the shipping within Canada will probably cost less. The European Store uses Amazon stores in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy which can offer lower cost shipping within Europe. Do not go to Amazon.ca, Amazon.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, or Amazon.it from Amazon.com. If you do, your purchase will not qualify for a referral fee. You must go to these stores from ARSStore.org.
Remember: You get the same low prices and the ARS gets a commission for referring you.
All purchases made after entering ARSStore.org and using links on ARSStore.org are eligible for commissions to the ARS. Once you enter Amazon.com from ARSStore.org, the connection may time out after several hours of no activity, so make sure you always enter Amazon.com from ARSStore.org.
You may wonder if people who are not members of the ARS may use ARSStore.org. Yes, most certainly. The object is to raise money for the ARS. The more money we raise the better. Invite all of your friends to use it. There are illustrated links you can use for email as well as print ads you can use for newsletters and other printed media. Invite your favorite nurseries to add links to ARSStore.org.
A word of advice. One of the great things about Amazon.com is their Customer Reviews section. It is frank and honest and features all of the positive reviews and negative reviews. Before pressing "Add to Cart," first check Customer Reviews to make sure of what you are getting.
On ARSStore.org every purchase results in a contribution to the ARS at no additional cost.
The New York Sun ran the headline in 1897, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Some rhododendron lovers may be just as surprised to hear that in various parts of the world, certain rhododendrons are invasive. The Global Invasive Species Database [http://www.issg.org/database/species/ecology.asp?si=1651&lang=EN] lists Rhododendron ponticum.
It lists the native range as:
It lists the introduced range as:
The British Forestry Commission has done an excellent job of tracing how this problem came about at [http://www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/fcpg017.pdf/$FILE/fcpg017.pdf]. They give this history:
Rhododendron ponticum was introduced into the British Isles around 1763 as a cultivated flowering plant and was widely planted in gardens, parks and estates. It was also planted extensively in Victorian hunting estates, particularly in western coastal areas, under woodland canopies and on heathland areas to provide shelter for game species. It was later used as a rootstock for less hardy scions of Rhododendron species and cultivars, but the original rhododendron rootstock often produced its own shoots, which out-competed and then replaced the species or cultivar and reverted back to wild type rhododendron.
They go on to say,
The global Invasive Species Specialist Group [http://www.issg.org], who maintain the Global Invasive Species Database [http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/], has put together a guide for eradicating Rhododendron ponticum, in case you should need some advice: [http://www.issg.org/database/species/reference_files/rhopon/rhopon_man.pdf].
So, in our gardens, rhododendrons are robust. In areas where they are not wanted, they are invasive.
Some plants are allelopathic, that is the plants produce toxins to prevent competition from other plants such as what black walnuts and some Eucalyptus do. There are British myths that claim that Rhododendron ponticum has become invasive in Britain because it is allelopathic. R. ponticum is invasive in the UK, but it is not allelopathic. One researcher, James Merryweather, has searched the literature and debunks that myth:
He goes on to approve of the "Lever and Mulch" eradication of R. ponticum. He then points out that after R. ponticum is eradicated, the soil is perfectly fine for a wide variety of other plants, further casting doubt on any possibility of allelopathic effects.
Aluminum sulfate will change the soil pH instantly because the aluminum produces the acidity as soon as it dissolves in the soil. However aluminum sulfate should be reserved for use only with hydrangeas to promote blue flowers. Aluminum is necessary for the flower color change in hydrangeas but can cause aluminum toxicity in other plants such as blueberries, rhododendrons and azaleas. Many acres of land in the world are unusable for crops due to soil acidity and aluminum toxicity. Simply lowering the soil pH with any product will help hydrangeas flowers to be blue but the competitive deep blue will require aluminum sulfate additions.
If you Google "extension aluminum sulfate rhododendron azalea" you will find some extension agents still recommending aluminum sulfate while most are warning against using it. It is sad that such bad advice is still being given.
Never use aluminum sulfate for making the planting medium for rhododendrons and azaleas more acid. Thousands of rhododendrons and azaleas are killed each year by the addition of aluminum sulfate to planting mediums. Aluminum ions under very acid conditions are very toxic to all of the rhododendron genus and many other plants.
Aluminum is not considered to be an essential element for plant growth. In fact, for most plants, high levels of available soil aluminum are toxic causing stunting of root growth and eventual death if soil aluminum is high enough. Usually the soil pH has to be less than 4.5 for this to happen. Rhododendrons and azaleas are more vulnerable than many other plants.
Although aluminum sulfate often is recommended to gardeners for increasing the acidity of the soil, it has a toxic salt effect on the roots of plants if it is used in large amounts. Small amounts do not cause much of an effect. About 7 lb. of aluminum sulfate are required to accomplish the same effects as 1 lb. of sulfur.
The one area where aluminum sulfate is recommended is in making blue hydrangeas blue. The chemistry of hydrangeas is such that not only acidity is necessary, but also aluminum ions are also necessary to make the flowers blue due to the aluminum binding with the anthocyanin. Hence, blue hydrangeas shouldn't share the same beds with rhododendrons and azaleas. Over application of aluminum sulfate can even be toxic to hydrangeas.
I am sure that part of the reason for the bad advice is that aluminum sulfate is very quick in modifying the soil pH. Sulfur is very slow, but is much more effective eventually.
Guy Nearing was one of the first to realize that aluminum sulfate was detrimental to rhododendrons and azaleas. His findings were published in the Journal of the ARS in 1955.
Today, the effect is thoroughly understood. The most eloquent article on adjusting soil pH for rhododendrons and azaleas was written by Sandra Mason with the University of Illinois, Champaign, firstname.lastname@example.org.
In her words, "Many acres of land in the world are unusable for crops due to soil acidity and aluminum toxicity."
There are two all-too-common problems when planting.
Harold Greer probably explained the first point best:
The second point is more commonly pointed out. When you take a plant out of a pot, usually there are many roots that are circling the rootball around the outside. If planted this way, those roots grow and form a hangman's noose around the entire root structure. That plant is certain to die eventually.
Fortunately both problems are prevented by proper planting. OPEN UP THE ROOTS!
It is necessary to remove the plant from the container and examine their roots. If the plant appears pot-bound and has a thick, dense mat of fibrous roots along the surface of the rootball, use a knife to make vertical cuts about every 2 inches and about 2 inches deep, equally spaced around the sides of the rootball. Then use your hands to gently loosen the roots where cuts were made and pull the roots outward. This process stimulates new root growth and allows water and nutrients to penetrate into the root mass. If the roots are not pot-bound, it is not necessary to slice them with a knife, but still loosen and pull the roots outward with your hands. When working with roots keep them moistened. Any roots that dry out will die.
If the plant has been transplanted several times it may be necessary to remove all soil so that previous areas that were pot bound in side the rootball when it was planted in smaller containers may be exposed. All roots must be separated so they go out from the center and do not circle. Those that cannot be straightened must be cut. If allowed to circle other roots, they will strangle the other roots as they grow larger. When working with bare roots of a plant, keep them moistened. Any roots that dry out will die.
Al Fitzburg recommends taking "a small rake type hand trowel and pull apart the rootball until the roots are open at the periphery of the ball."
Rare Find Nursery has an excellent Planting Guide. It states:
The Rare Find Planting Guide next says:
This assures that the rootball is not dry. The rootball has been opened up and soaked with water. At least now the plant has a chance. A plant with a dry rootball or circling roots has no chance.
I am often asked what is killing my rhododendron or azalea. Of course I would have to be psychic and equipped with a microscope and other laboratory equipment to do a proper diagnosis, but, short of that, I can fall back on generalities about what rhododendrons and azaleas need and what they often don’t get. So here goes a one size fits all explanation:
First, it helps to be able to tell when a branch is dead. If there is no green cambium layer under the bark, then that branch is dead and it is best to prune such branches off. Even if there are no green leaves but there is a green cambium layer under the bark, the branch is alive. Such branches have dormant buds that may open and produce leaves in the future. One can look for the green cambium layer by scratching with their fingernail, or while cutting off the dead branches.
Drainage and Mulching
The chief cause of rhododendron death is water, either too much or not enough. Too much causes root rot which is terminal. Too little causes dieback which kills the plant one branch at a time. Rhododendrons and most other plants like "moist well-drained soil". That makes it sound like no matter what you do you can't do it right. However, if the area has good drainage and you use mulch, it should be easy to achieve moist well-drained soil. To check for good drainage, dig a hole about 10 to 12 inches deep and fill it with water. Then after it drains, fill it again and see how long it takes to drain. If the hole drains within an hour you have good drainage. If the water has not drained out of the hole within one hour, the soil is poorly drained and you must correct the drainage problem before planting. Install a perforated pipe or drain tile in the garden, making sure that the outlet is lower than the bottom of the planting hole, or build raised beds. [The sketch by Harold Greer shows how to use a raised bed.] Rhododendrons are easy to transplant most any time. It is best to avoid transplanting when new leaves are coming out or the ground is frozen. If the drainage is OK, then you can keep the area moist with a good mulch layer. Mulches conserve water in the soil, insulate roots against summer heat and winter cold, and discourage weeds. Replenish mulches annually, as needed, to maintain a 3- to 5-inch layer on the soil surface. Fine-textured organic mulches such as pine straw or shredded bark are best. Fall leaves are an excellent mulch, except don’t use black walnut or butternut leaves. They have a chemical, juglone, that kills rhododendrons and azaleas. During hot dry weather, it is common to see rhododendron leaves look wilted. It they look wilted in the heat of the day, that is normal. If they look wilted in the morning, that is a sign that the plant is either too dry or dying from being too wet. It should be easy to tell which, but don't assume, check the soil with your finger. During drought periods, it may be necessary to water once in a while. A deep watering once or twice a week is much better than frequent watering. Only water when the plants show signs of being dry.
If the soil is moist and well-drained, then the second most common problem is improper planting. Since the plants may have been planted a number of years earlier, this is a difficult area to consider. However, if a plant has not put out new green shoots in a year, it is dead and you can dig it up and look at the roots. If they are growing in a circle and strangling each other, the plant was not planted properly. You could dig up the other plants and try to open up the roots so they don't strangle each other. If necessary, cut some of the roots so they don't strangle others. If you do dig them up, never let the roots dry out. Dip them in muddy water occasionally while working on them. If they dry out, they will die. Also, never plant rhododendrons and azaleas near black walnut. or butternut trees. Their leaves, nut hulls, and roots produce a toxin called juglone which kills many kinds of plants including rhododendrons and azaleas. Rarefind Nursery has an excellent guide on proper planting of rhododendrons and azaleas. [http://www.rarefindnursery.com/index.php/tree-and-shrub-planting-guide]
Soil Nutrients and pH
The third most common cause of decline and death is improper nutrients and pH. Rhododendrons need acidic soil, a pH of between 4.5 and 6. Fortunately, rhododendrons are great pH detectors. If the leaf is green, don't worry. If the leaf is yellow with green veins, you may have a pH problem, however it could be a nutrient problem also. In any case it is chlorotic. [See the photo of a chlorotic leaf.] If the leaf is uniformly yellow, it is most likely a nitrogen deficiency and not chlorosis. There are many causes of chlorosis. Poor drainage, planting too deeply, heavy soil with poor aeration, insect or fungus damage in the root zone and lack of moisture all induce chlorosis. After these conditions are eliminated as possible causes, soil testing is in order. Chlorosis can be caused by malnutrition caused by alkalinity of the soil, potassium deficiency, calcium deficiency, iron deficiency, magnesium deficiency or too much phosphorus in the soil. Iron is most readily available in acidic soils between pH 4.5-6.0. When the soil pH is above 6.5, iron may be present in adequate amounts, but is in an unusable form, due to an excessive amount of calcium carbonate. This can occur when plants are placed too close to cement foundations or walkways. Soil amendments that acidify the soil, such as iron sulfate or sulfur, are the best long term solution. For a quick but only temporary improvement in the appearance of the foliage, ferrous sulfate can be dissolved in water (1 ounce in 2 gallons of water) and sprinkled on the foliage. Some garden centers sell chelated iron that provides the same results. Follow the label recommendations for mixing and applying chelated iron. A combination of acidification with sulfur and iron supplements such as chelated iron or iron sulfate will usually treat this problem. Chlorosis caused by magnesium deficiency is initially the same as iron, but progresses to form reddish purple blotches and marginal leaf necrosis (browning of leaf edges). Epsom salts is a good source of supplemental magnesium. Chlorosis can also be caused by nitrogen toxicity (usually caused by nitrate fertilizers) or other conditions that damage the roots such as root rot, severe cutting of the roots, root weevils or root death caused by extreme amounts of fertilizer. In any case, never use aluminum sulfate. Although garden centers sell it and it is great for hydrangeas, it will kill rhododendrons and azaleas if used repeatedly. Also never use fertilizers with chemical nitrogen. Always use a good rhododendron and azalea fertilizer with organic nitrogen like HollyTone. Also, always fertilize in the spring and at half the rate on the package.
Insects and Fungi
The least common cause of decline and death is insects and fungi, things that you can spray for. The most common causes are cultural, things that arise because of where and how the plant was planted. Proper care at planting will usually prevent problems later on due to insects or fungi. One common insect problem that can be avoided is Lace Bugs. [See photo of Lace Bug damage on the underside of a leaf.] Some rhododendrons and azaleas are susceptible to Lace Bug damage. However, this problem can be averted by planting such plants in areas with partial shade. Natural enemies of Lace Bug can keep them in check if the plant doesn’t receive too much sun.
Make sure your neighbor realizes that the local extension service can test soil samples and look at samples of diseased plant material to check for problems. Also, you can help your neighbor find varieties of plants that do well in your area. Unfortunately, some local garden centers stock plants based upon sales appeal rather than on whether they are appropriate for the immediate area. Lists of plants that are known to do well are available in the ARS website’s Proven Performer Lists. [http://www.rhododendron.org/performers_intro.htm]
With a tradition of horticulture going back 300 years, Philadelphia is America’s Garden Capital. So much of the nation’s horticultural history is rooted in this region that it has been dubbed “the cradle of horticulture.” Visit more than 30 public gardens, arboreta, and historic landscapes, all located within 30 miles of our landmark city.
The CDC and local authorities are on alert for the Zika virus, but it is not a threat in the US yet and especially not in Pennsylvania. Actually ticks are the biggest threat to the gardener in our area with mosquitoes a distant second. They are called vectors because they are biting insects that transmit a disease or parasite from one animal to another. It is important to be aware of what problems they can cause. Pennsylvania has been the Lyme disease capital of the world the last 3 years, and West Nile virus is an emerging threat. We should be able to recognize the symptoms and the vectors causing the problem, especially the ticks. In fact, one of the best weapons against ticks is to make sure we don’t have any attached to our body when we come in from gardening. In addition to that, preventing tick and mosquito bites is very important and fairly easy to do if we think of it in advance.
The diseases caused by ticks and mosquitoes are many and include some nasty ones. If you know you have been bitten by a tick, always tell medical professionals about this when reporting any new symptoms. The symptoms are very non-specific and are often misdiagnosed as a result unless a possible cause is mentioned.
Lyme disease is an infection caused by the spirochete bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted to humans by Blacklegged tick (deer tick) and groundhog tick. It is a complex illness sometimes characterized initially by a bull's eye rash. If you are infected and get the rash, you are lucky since it is easily treated at this stage. If the rash is not present, you can get just about any combination of symptoms including including headache, fever, sore throat, nausea, etc. If left untreated, these can turn into late phase symptoms which may progress to debilitating arthritic, cardiac, and neurologic conditions, but rarely directly to death. There are several tests for Lyme disease, but treatment is often started before test results are in if the bull’s eye rash is present.
The bull's eye rash appears as a red rash and expands to cover a large round region at least 2 inches in diameter over a period of days or weeks. The center of this lesion often tends to progressively clear, giving the name, bull's eye rash. The bull's eye rash is generally accompanied with intermittent fatigue, fever, headache, a stiff neck, muscle aches, and/or joint pain. The joint pain can be mistaken for other types of arthritis, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), and neurologic signs of Lyme disease can mimic those caused by other conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Early diagnosis is important in preventing late-stage complications. When detected early, Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics. Left untreated, the disease can spread to the joints, heart and nervous system. Classic signs of untreated cases can include migratory pain or arthritis, impaired motor and sensory skills and an enlarged heart.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever was first recognized in the United States during the 1890s, but until the 1930s it was reported only in the Rocky Mountains. By 1963, over 90 percent of all cases were reported east of the Rockies. In the west, the disease was limited mainly to people who worked and spent time in wooded areas, while in the east, cases occur when people come in contact with infected ticks from their pets or in their yards.
Rocky Mountain spotted fever is caused by very small bacteria, Rickettsia rickettsii. The vector in the east is the American dog tick, but the disease is also carried by the Lone star tick and the Rocky Mountain wood tick.
Symptoms include a red-purple-black rash, usually on the wrists and ankles, which appears from two days to two weeks after infection. A fever, headaches, and listlessness also are characteristic. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are used to treat Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Diagnosis can be made with a blood test, but treatment should not wait for lab confirmation, as fatalities do occur.
Also known as rabbit fever, tularemia is carried by the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the Rabbit tick, the Lone star tick, and the American dog tick. Rabbits serve as a reservoir for the bacteria, Francisella tularensis. The number of cases in the United States has dropped considerably in the last 50 years. In 1989 only 144 cases were reported, compared to nearly 2,300 cases in 1939.
Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, chills, loss of appetite, general body aches, and swollen lymph nodes. An ulcer forms at the site of the bite. Blood tests are used in diagnosis, and treatment consists of antibiotics. If not treated, symptoms intensify. Tularemia causes a few deaths each year.
Caused by the sporozoan parasite, Babesia microti, the disease is transmitted by the Blacklegged tick. Fatigue and loss of appetite are followed by a fever with chills, muscle aches, and headaches. In more extreme cases, blood may appear in the urine. Babesiosis is more severe in older people and those with no spleen. Fatalities can occur in older patients. The condition has been treated with drugs that are used to treat malaria, but with limited success. Generally, the disease is self-limiting and symptoms disappear on their own.
Tick paralysis is not a disease, but a condition caused by toxins that a tick injects into its host during feeding. Most mammals seem to be affected, but smaller and younger mammals, including children, are more susceptible.
Symptoms begin a day or two after initial attachment. The victim loses coordination and sensation in the extremities. The paralysis progresses in severity, the legs and arms becoming useless; the face may lose sensation; and speech becomes slurred. If the breathing center of the brain is affected, the victim may die. If the tick or ticks are found and removed, recovery begins immediately, and the effects disappear within a day.
Generally, this condition is associated with ticks attached around the head area, particularly at the base of the skull. Ticks that have been implicated in tick paralysis in the United States are the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the Lone star tick, and the American dog tick. Some individual ticks cause tick paralysis. The toxin that causes this condition is part of the salivary fluid that the tick injects. Because the problem is associated with ticks attached on the head, and because recovery is quick upon removal of the tick, it is theorized that the toxin acts locally and is broken down in the body rapidly. Tick paralysis occurs only sporadically; the important thing is to be aware that it exists and, when symptoms occur, to attempt to find the tick and remove it.
In Pennsylvania, the risk of contracting a mosquito-borne disease has recently increased with the introduction of West Nile virus. Fortunately, West Nile virus poses little risk to most Pennsylvanians unless they have compromised immune systems.
Infected mosquitoes pass the virus onto birds, animals and people. West Nile virus cases in Pennsylvania occur primarily in the mid-summer or early fall, although mosquito season is usually April-October.
People with mild cases of West Nile virus may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands for a few days, the department said, but most people who are infected will not have any type of illness.
Approximately one in 150 people with the virus will develop a more severe form infection known as West Nile encephalitis or meningitis, with symptoms including headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. In those cases, symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
Many species of ticks can transmit diseases from an infected host to other uninfected hosts. Some of the more frequently transmitted organisms include parasitic worms, viruses, bacteria, spirochetes and rickettsias. The most important of these to Pennsylvanians are spirochetes which cause Lyme disease, and rickettsias which cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever.
Currently, more than 25 species of ticks have been identified in Pennsylvania. Of these, four species account for nearly 90 percent of all submissions to Penn State for identification. The four ticks are: 1) the American dog tick, Dermacentor variablis; 2) the blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis; 3) the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum; and 4) a ground hog tick, Ixodes cookei.
1. American dog tick, Dermacentor variabilis
American dog ticks are found predominantly in areas with little or no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrubland, as well as along walkways and trails. They feed on a variety of hosts, ranging in size from mice to deer, and nymphs and adults can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Tularemia. American dog ticks can survive for up to 2 years at any given stage if no host is found. Females can be identified by their large off-white scutum against a dark brown body.
Adult males and females are active April- early August, and are mostly found questing in tall grass and low lying brush and twigs. They feed on medium-sized wildlife hosts, including raccoons, skunks, opossums and coyotes, as well as domestic dogs, cats and man. Adult American dog ticks commonly attack humans. Male ticks blood feed briefly but do not become distended with blood. Once finished feeding, males mate with the female while she feeds, which can take one week or more. Once engorged, female dog ticks detach from their host and drop into the leaf litter, where they can lay over 4,000 eggs before dying.
Larvae are active late April - September, and can be found questing for a host (voles, mice, raccoons, opossums, etc.) in the leaf litter. In the northeastern U.S., larvae overwinter and are most abundant in the spring and early summer. After blood feeding for 3 to 4 days, larvae detach from their host, falling into the grass/meadow thatch and leaf litter where they molt into nymphs.
Nymphs are active May - July, and feed on small and mid-sized animals, such as mice, voles, rabbits, raccoons and skunks. Nymphal dog ticks rarely attach to humans. Once engorged, nymphs detach from their host, falling into the grass/meadow thatch and leaf litter where they molt into adults.
2. Blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis
Blacklegged ticks (a.k.a deer ticks) take 2 years to complete their life cycle and are found predominately in deciduous forest. Their distribution relies greatly on the distribution of its reproductive host, white-tailed deer. Both nymph and adult stages transmit diseases such as Lyme disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis.
Adult males and females are active October-May, as long as the daytime temperature remains above freezing. Preferring larger hosts, such as deer, adult blacklegged ticks can be found questing about knee-high on the tips of branches of low growing shrubs. Adult females readily attack humans and pets. Once females fully engorge on their blood meal, they drop off the host into the leaf litter, where they can over-winter. Engorged females lay a single egg mass (up to 1500-2000 eggs) in mid to late May, and then die.
Larvae emerge from eggs later in the summer. Unfed female blacklegged ticks are easily distinguished from other ticks by the orange-red body surrounding the black scutum. Males do not feed. The six-legged larvae are active July-September and can be found in moist leaf litter. Larvae hatch nearly pathogen-free from eggs, and remain in the leaf litter where they will attach to nearly any small, medium or large-sized mammal and many species of birds. Preferred hosts are white-footed mice. Larvae remain attached to their host until replete, which usually requires 3 days. Once fully engorged, the larvae drop off of the host and molt, re-emerging the following spring as nymphs.
Nymphs are active May-August, and are most commonly found in moist leaf litter in wooded areas, or at the edge of wooded areas. The eight-legged, pin-head sized nymph typically attaches to smaller mammals such as mice, voles, and chipmunks, requiring 3-4 days to fully engorge. Nymphs also readily attach to and blood feed on humans, cats and dogs. Once fed, they drop off into rodent burrows or leaf litter in animal bedding areas where they molt and emerge as adults in the fall.
3. Lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum
Lone star ticks are found mostly in woodlands with dense undergrowth and around animal resting areas. The larvae do not carry disease, but the nymphal and adult stages can transmit the pathogens causing Monocytic Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and 'Stari' borreliosis. Lone star ticks are notorious pests, and all stages are aggressive human biters.
Adults are active April-August and can be found questing for larger animals, such as dogs, coyotes, deer, cattle and humans on tall grass in shade or at the tips of low lying branches and twigs. Females are easily recognized by a single white dot in the center of a brown body, with the males having spots or streaks of white around the outer edge of the body. Females require a week to 10 days or more to engorge and can lay 2,500-3,000 eggs.
Nymphs are active May-August, and can be found questing for deer, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, turkeys and some birds as well as cats, dogs and humans. Where abundant, nymphs seemingly swarm up pant legs and can become attached in less than 10 minutes. Nymphs typically take 5-6 days to become replete, and once fully engorged, they fall off of the host into the leaf litter, where they molt into adults.
Larvae are active July-September and can be found questing for a wide variety of animals, including cats, dogs, deer, coyotes, raccoons, squirrels, turkeys, and some small birds. After feeding for around 4 days, they drop off of the host and bury themselves in the leaf litter, where they molt into nymphs.
4. Groundhog tick, Ixodes cookei
The groundhog tick, Ixodes cookei, can be found east of the Rocky Mountains into New England and southeast Canada. The tick mostly feeds on rodents and medium-sized mammals, especially groundhogs and skunks. It will feed on a variety of animals including humans. This tick can transmit Powassan virus.
An adult groundhog tick is about the size of a sesame seed and has a tan body with a reddish-tan plate on its back behind its head. Nymphs and larvae are a lighter tan color and are much smaller than adults. Groundhog ticks feed on small mammals such as skunks, raccoons and groundhogs.
Groundhog ticks may be found in brushy areas and along trails bordered by tall grass or weeds. They are also common in unused human dwellings since these environments are nesting places for small mammals
5. Northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens
Pennsylvania has 60 species of mosquitoes. The mosquito most often discovered in urban areas of Pennsylvania is the northern house mosquito, Culex pipiens. This is also the mosquito that is thought to transmit the most human cases of West Nile virus in Pennsylvania and consequently poses the greatest annoyance and risk to our citizens.
Some mosquito species can complete their life cycles in as little as 7 days but the northern house mosquito requires a minimum of 10-14 days – more often closer to a month.
Adult female mosquitoes require a blood meal in order to produce viable eggs. While feeding, the females inject saliva-containing anticoagulants that prevent the blood from clotting. Because mosquitoes take numerous blood meals, they can acquire disease organisms from an infected host and later transmit those organisms to previously uninfected hosts.
Considered to be a medium-sized mosquito, the adult Culex pipiens may reach up ¼”. The House mosquito species' body is usually brownish or grayish brown. The proboscis and wings are usually brown.
Larvae are known as wigglers since they seem to move in that manner. They feed on fungi, bacteria and other tiny organisms through straw-like filters. These larvae will undergo growth throughout this stage.
Pupae are known as tumblers because of the way they seem to “tumble” through the water. Their rounded, comma-like shape makes this mode of movement easy. These pupae do not eat during the 1-2 days in which they will become an adult mosquito.
Control of this mosquitoes is achieved through meticulous removal of water holding containers. Birdbaths and pet bowls should be scrubbed and the water changed at least every few days. For the gardener, check stacks of pots and saucers that are exposed to rain and make sure they are dry. The homeowner needs to ensure that gutters and downspouts are free of leafy debris that might retain rainwater. Still-water ponds, water features, and wet ditches can be treated with the biological control, Bacillus thuringiensis israelenis, sold as Mosquito Dunks or Mosquito Bits.
The best advice for preventing Lyme disease, West Nile virus, and other tick and mosquito-borne diseases is to:
1. Wear treated light-colored SPF clothing while outdoors, including a broad-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and long pants tucked into the socks. Permethrin treated clothing will kill ticks that are crawling. Spray-on applications can last 5 or 6 washing. Pretreated clothing may remain effective up to 70 washings. It is for use on clothing only. It does not harm or irritate skin, but it offers no benefits if applied to skin. It is considered totally safe to people, the environment, and to clothing.
2. Check your body daily for the presence of ticks. Self-examination is recommended after spending time in infested areas. If an embedded tick is found, it should be removed with fine tweezers by grasping the head and pulling with steady firm pressure. The tick should not be grabbed in the middle of its body because the gut contents may be expelled into the skin. The use of heat (lit match, cigarette, etc.), or petroleum jelly is NOT recommended to force the tick out. These methods will irritate the tick, and may cause it to regurgitate its stomach contents into the individual, thereby increasing the possibility of infection.
3. Use tick & mosquito repellents. DEET, Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus have proven to repel both ticks and mosquitoes for up to 8 hours. These are the most effective formulations. Weaker formulations protect for shorter periods of time.
The first line of defense against ticks and mosquitoes is to take precautions in the outdoors by using insect repellents, wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants treated with permethrin, checking for - and promptly and properly removing – any ticks, and showering shortly after exposure.
Tick Bites. Usually, removing the tick, washing the site of the bite, and watching for signs of illness are all that is needed. When you have a tick bite, it is important to determine whether you need a tetanus shot to prevent tetanus (lockjaw).
Many of the diseases ticks carry cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and muscle aches. Symptoms may begin from 1 day to 3 weeks after the tick bite. Sometimes a rash or sore appears along with the flu-like symptoms. Tick paralysis is a rare problem that may occur after a tick bite.
Though rare, tick bites can trigger a severe anaphylaxis reaction. If epinephrine is available, do not hesitate to use it. Using an epinephrine auto-injector as a precaution will not harm you and could save your life. Call 911 after using the EpiPen.
Call your doctor or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
Mosquito Bites. Mosquito bites can be an itchy nuisance. They'll go away on their own. If you need relief in the meantime, apply a hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to the bite. A cold pack or baggie filled with crushed ice may help, too.
Serious symptoms require a doctor's care. They include:
Symptoms usually occur three days to two weeks after a bite from an infected mosquito. If you notice any severe symptoms, see your doctor right away. You can usually treat less severe symptoms, such as a mild fever or headache, at home.
(Most of these books are available at ARSStore.org)
(Most of these books are available at ARSStore.org)
Directory of Contents for Henning's Rhododendron & Azalea Pages
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