Reach out to Ken Eraas for yard, garden questions

Submitted Photo These night feeders, the cutworm, will curl in a “C” shape when dug up. Photo from Clemson University-USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series,


Cutworms are showing up in gardens and either cut off the plants at ground level or climb the plant and feed on the leaves. They are night feeders and spend days in the soil around the base of the plant. There are a number of different kinds of cutworms, but most are from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches long and gray or brown in color and curl in a “C” shape when dug up.

Using cups or cans around new transplants to physically block them is the first line of defense. If the plants are already planted and too large for these barriers, the insecticides Sevin or Tempo may be used on the soil around the plant base to control them when they emerge from the soil at night to feed. Both of these insecticides have label restrictions, so be sure to always read and follow label instructions.

Tree Leaf Galls

Tree leaf galls are showing up now and causing concerns. The galls are bumps or growths on the leaves. They are usually on the underside of the leaf in ash, linden, and maple trees as well as some others. They may be green, red or other colors which catch the eye. They are caused by a tiny mite when is inside the gall. The mites emerged very early in the spring from the tree leaf buds and infected the emerging tree leaf.

The bad news is that there is nothing that can be done to control them now as the gall protects them. Control measures need to be done at bud break in early spring.

The good news is that it is very rare that the galls will actually injure the tree. They are unsightly, but don’t do enough damage to harm the tree. The tree will remain healthy even with their presence.

Plant Anti-desiccants

With the wind, lack of rainfall and now warmer temperatures, yard and garden plants are under moisture stress. There are products which when misted on the leaves of the plants greatly slow the moisture losses of the plant. These are called “Anti-desiccants.” They can be applied to transplants including garden vegetable, flowers, shrubs and trees. They help to reduce transplant shock and allow the plants to survive and grow in these stressful weather conditions.

These products can also be used on certain shrubs and trees to help protect against winter burn and sun scald. It is not labeled for all trees and shrubs, and is contrindicated for some species. So be sure to read and follow the label directions.

There are a number of brands of these products available. They are available at local garden centers.

Ken Eraas is a retired county Extension agent. He has both professional as well as personal training and interest in all phases of horticulture. He is an active member of both the Northwest Association of Horticulture in northwest North Dakota as well as the North Dakota State Horticulture Society. His personal horticulture interests include perennials, fruit and shade trees, vegetable gardening and landscape planning. He will be working the summer and early fall on a part-time basis as the Ward County Extension horticulture assistant. You can reach Ken by calling 857-6444 or emailing