ShadyGardens Blog

March 6, 2014

Did our Severe Cold Winter kill the Bugs?

Filed under: Alabama, cold, freezing, Georgia, mosquitoes, severe, ticks — shadygardens @ 4:26 pm
When temperatures were in the 20’s, teens, and even the single digits so many times this Winter, I felt like it would kill off some of the bugs. I’ve heard many people say, “At least we won’t have so many mosquitoes, ticks, and flies this summer!”


Our Birdbath stayed frozen for days
Well, I’m afraid that just isn’t so. Ask any old-timer, and they will tell you the bugs will still be here when temperatures warm up. I didn’t have to ask an old-timer, because early this morning I found a tick latched on under my clothes. And it has been cold outside this week! 
My father told me of a spider he observed from his front sitting room window during the coldest period this Winter. When night time temperatures were 7 degrees and day-time warm ups crept just to the 20’s, the spider remained curled up in a ball, appearing to be lifeless. But when the weather warmed up, the spider would slowly begin wiggling as if waking up from a long nap. Once he seemed satisfied that it was sufficiently warm enough to get to work, the spider would get busy rebuilding his web. 
According to entomologist Xing Ping Hu, research professor with Auburn University, the reason insects are so resilient is that they have adapted strategies for surviving the cold. Hu pointed out that both of our coldest states, Alaska and Minnesota, are bothered by mosquitoes during the summer, so why would mosquitoes be affected by the freezing temperatures in Alabama and Georgia? Yellow Jackets are the only insect population that might be affected here, because they are susceptible to the cold. (See AL.com). That will probably be good news to all the runners who were stung during the Boy Scout Troop Trail Trek in West Point last Fall.

February 28, 2014

Plant Damage from Severe Cold Temperatures

Filed under: cold, freeze, Georgia, severe, temperatures — shadygardens @ 3:26 pm

I don’t know where Global Warming is, but it certainly is not in Georgia! Wew, it’s cold! Here it is the end of February, and it’s still cold. I have had just about enough Winter to last me for awhile. Although we will certainly have some warm days, we can expect another month of cold weather. All these days and nights below freezing have been too much for some of my plants.

Creeping Fig damaged by Severe Cold
Shrubs and perennials that are normally evergreen here in our climate have lost their leaves this winter. The creeping fig covering our front brick wall has turned brown. The plants climbing a pine tree behind the greenhouse are growing in a more sheltered location, so parts of those vines remain green.
Leaves on our Lady Banks Roses have all given up and fell off. Even the leaves of our Purple Loropetalum have curled up and turned brown in protest to freezing temperatures. The bright fuschia blooms that normally would have opened even during the winter remain on the shrubs but are withered and ugly. Foliage on the Tea Olive is also crispy and brown on the more exposed plants.
This winter has been unusually severe here in the Southeastern United States, so when you walk out into your garden, you might see damage you haven’t seen before. We had nice warm weather this past week. But the cold we feel outdoors today reminds us that winter is not over.
On your next warm day in the garden, don’t be tempted to prune away those damaged stems. Not yet, anyway. Wait until Spring is really here. Pruning encourages new growth, and if you prune now, new growth will appear. That tender vegetation will most certainly be killed with our next frost. Furthermore, those crispy stems that are already damaged can help to protect the undamaged and still green undergrowth. When all danger of frost is passed, you can trim away any dead stems, and you might be surprised at what you find.
Unfortunately, some plants might not recover. We grow several shrubs and perennials that are borderline hardy here in West Central Georgia, and some of our plants might not “come back”, as we say. We will have to just wait and see.

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