Posts Tagged ‘invasive plants’

Extension Horticulturist Warns of Giant Hogweed

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

It won’t jump out and bite, as University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor Lois Berg Stack says, but anyone brushing up against and breaking open the robust hairs on the leaves of the giant hogweed plant might think it did.

Giant Hogweed leavesRelatively unknown to most people until several news articles recently surfaced, giant hogweed is an unusually large flowering weed resembling “Queen Anne’s lace on steroids,” according to state horticulturist Ann Gibbs, that can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blisters and permanent scarring from the burns it can cause when exposed to sunlight.

Stack, an ornamental horticulture specialist, is available to discuss ways to identify and control or eradicate giant hogweed from backyards, on dry well-drained property and at the sides of roads.

Giant hogweed has been reported in more than 30 sites around Maine, mostly along the coast from Hancock to York counties, according to Stack. The plant is on the federal noxious weeds list because it is so hazardous to humans. Stack considers it an invasive species.

“The USDA is interested in controlling this plant because it’s a human health hazard. If it were on my property, I would cut it down at the very least,” Stack says. “I would cut off the flower heads so you can control the seeds.”

In spite of its toxicity when on skin and exposed to sunlight, horticulturists say the plant, which is native to the Caucasus Mountains in Russia, was grown in Victorian-era gardens in the United States because of its unusual size and attractiveness. Giant Hogweed can grow 14 feet tall, has a white lacy flower head measuring more than a foot in diameter, with a series of smaller flower heads beneath it. The plant’s leaves can be 2 feet or more long, according to Stack.

Giant Hogweed flower“It’s a plant that, once you’ve seen it, you will never mistake it for anything else,” she says. The leaves, she adds, “are very distinct and easily distinguished from other plants’ leaves. They’re very lobed with a lot of silvery markings.”

Stack advises that property owners who do discover and want to remove giant hogweed from their property might consider cutting the plants at night or when the sun isn’t out, and wear gloves and long sleeved clothing.

“The plants have robust hairs and glands,” she says. Sap on skin only burns under sunlight, she says, but can cause irreversible scarring.

Lois Berg Stack can be reached at (207) 581-2949 for additional information.

Battling Invasive Plants

Monday, August 9th, 2010

For more information about invasive plants in Maine, see Bulletin #2536, Invasive Plants Threaten Maine’s Natural Treasures.

Maine Home Garden News — August, 2010

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

August is the month to . . .

By Amy Witt, Horticulturist, UMaine Extension Cumberland County,

  • Monitor the trees in your area for signs of two invasive tree insect pests: the Asian longhorn beetle (ALB) and hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA).
    • ALB is a woodboring beetle native to Asia. It attacks and eventually kills healthy hardwood trees including maple, birch, poplar, willow, horsechestnut, elm, and ash. For more information on the ALB, visit the Maine Department of Agriculture’s Web page.
    • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid; photo by J. F. Dill

      Hemlock Woolly Adelgid; photo by J. F. Dill

      HWA is a serious pest of eastern hemlock and can kill a tree within a few years of being infested. For more information, see the Maine Department of Conservation’s HWA overview.

    • Report any suspicious findings to Allison Kanoti of the Maine Forest Service, or (207) 287-3147.
  • Mid-August through mid-September is a good time to seed a new lawn. For more lawn tips, see Bulletin #2367, Establishing a Home Lawn.
  • Plant or divide (three to four weeks after bloom) bearded iris. To divide, dig the plant up, make sure each division has one or more 2- to 6-inch sections with leaves and healthy white roots. Remove and discard the old center rhizomes and anything that may have rotted or been attacked by pests.
  • Order your spring flowering bulbs. Always purchase bulbs from a reliable grower/source and make sure they are healthy, plump, firm and as fresh as possible. There are a large variety of bulbs to choose from, so be daring and try something new this year.
  • Review your landscape. Research and select trees and other ornamentals for fall planting.
  • Plant broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage seedlings, and lettuce, spinach and turnip seeds for a fall crop.
  • Pick summer squash and zucchini every day or two to keep the plants producing. See Bulletin #4257, Zucchini and Summer Squash, for recipe ideas.
  • Collect mature or ripened seeds from your vegetable and flower gardens to save and plant next year. Keep in mind that the seed from hybrid plants is often sterile or does not reproduce true to the parent plant.
  • Begin harvesting onions when 1/2 to 3/4 of the leaves have died back. Pull the onions in the morning and allow the bulbs to dry in the garden until late afternoon. Put the onions in a dry, protected and shady location to prevent them from getting sunburned on hot, sunny days.  Place bulbs under dry shelter on elevated slats or screens, or hang them in small bunches, before the evening dew falls. Complete drying and curing will take 2 -3 weeks.  After the bulbs dry, cut the tops 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, and place the bulb in cool, dry storage with good air circulation.
  • Gather herbs for drying as they mature; pinch the stems of basil regularly to prevent flowering.
  • Find a pick-your-own blueberry operation near you.
  • Pay attention to your garden’s water needs. Consider soaker hoses and drip irrigation for efficiency.

Recognizing and Managing Invasive Plants: Asiatic Bittersweet

By Dr. Lois Berg Stack, Extension Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture, Univ. of Maine; Dr. Mary Rumpho, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Maine; and Dr. Donglin Zhang, Associate Professor of Horticulture, Univ. of Maine. For more information, contact

Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus; also called Oriental bittersweet) was introduced to the United States in the late 1800s for ornamental purposes: it was long planted as a decorative vine in landscapes, and it has also been used in crafts such as wreathmaking and floral design. It has become a difficult weed in many home landscapes, and has become widely established in the eastern U.S. and Canada, where it is a serious invasive plant in natural areas (see photo of bittersweet on Mackworth Island, Maine).

What does it look like?

Asiatic bittersweet growing over trees

Asiatic bittersweet berries

Photos by Lois Berg Stack

This vine grows to 30’ and longer. It climbs by twining its stem around supports such as trees. The stems have light brown bark covered with bumpy lenticels. The leaves, 3-5” long, are arranged alternately on the stems, and are oval to nearly round, with a pointed tip. The root surfaces are bright orange. This plant is dioecious; that is, male flowers and female flowers develop on separate plants. Only the female plants produce clusters of colorful yellow fruits that split open in fall to reveal orange-scarlet seeds (see photo of immature fruits that have not yet split open).

There is a native species of bittersweet, American bittersweet, but the two can easily be differentiated by comparing two features. First, the leaves of American bittersweet are narrower, more “oval” than “round.” And second, the fruits of American bittersweet are located in clusters only at the tips of stems, while the fruits of Asiatic bittersweet are located on side branches all along the vining main stem. This feature explains why Asiatic bittersweet was introduced, as it is more colorful when in fruit.

What kinds of sites does Asiatic bittersweet invade?

Asiatic bittersweet grows at the edges of forests, in open woodlands, and in fields and hedgerows. It grows most vigorously in full sun, but tolerates shade and invades forested areas. In those shaded sites, if a tree is cut or falls in a storm, the increased light often causes the existing small bittersweet seedlings to grow rapidly and climb up trees around the opening. Asiatic bittersweet readily invades sites with slightly acidic and moderately moist soils. It tolerates a wide range of temperatures, and is invasive from eastern Canada south to Georgia, west to Arkansas and north to Wisconsin.

How does it invade new sites?

Female Asiatic bittersweet vines produce large numbers of seeds. Although lab studies have shown that they do not remain viable much longer than one year, the seed bank in the soil is quickly replenished each year by annual crops of seed. Birds disperse seeds to new sites, often flying from an infested site to a wooded nesting area and dropping seed there. People are part of the picture, too, when they purchase wreaths or arrangements made from Asiatic bittersweet and discard those items in places where birds can eat the seeds and later disperse them.

Once established in a site, the plants often spread by root suckering. In landscape settings, for example, if Asiatic bittersweet is planted in a bed, and the bed is edged with a sharp tool, the severed roots beyond the bed often send up new shoots.

What impact does this plant have on native species?

Asiatic bittersweet is outcompeting its American counterpart in two ways. First, it is more competitive, and is displacing the American species. Second, it hybridizes (naturally) with its American counterpart.

When an opening in wooded sites allows this plant to grow rapidly, its shade restricts the growth of native understory shrubs and groundcovers. Bittersweet stems can, over time, restrict flow of sap in the trees which it entwines. As the vines increase in size and weight, the trees under them are more susceptible to damage from wind, snow and ice.

How can I control Asiatic bittersweet?

No single method controls this plant. By combining the following methods, you can manage it:

  1. Do not purchase or plant this species. Scout your neighborhood; you might be able to organize a neighborhood management effort of prevention and management. Because birds carry seeds from one site to another, this is not a single-landowner problem; it’s a community problem.
  2. Learn to recognize the plant as a young seedling. Its stems are limber, and “reach” for something to climb on. When the stems are young, they are green. The roundish leaves with a pointed tip are easily to recognize. Small patches of young seedlings can be hand-pulled. By removing young vines before they reach maturity, you can prevent future seed crops. Watch for the seedlings as you weed your garden, especially in places where you know birds rest or nest.
  3. Mowing or cutting back to the ground does not kill Asiatic bittersweet, because it readily produces shoots from the stumps. However, cutting the tops off female plants in early summer can at least prevent seeds from maturing. If you cut the base of vines that have vined up into trees for a long time, avoid pulling the vines down from the tree branches, as the branch bark will be damaged, leaving the tree more vulnerable to other problems.
  4. Several herbicides are labeled to control this plant. E-mail for specific recommendations.

If I remove this plant from my landscape, what can I plant in its place?

Many vines are available at garden centers and nurseries. Native American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), native riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) and native trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) are all sold by some nurseries. For possible vendors in Maine, check Bulletin #2502, Native Plants: A Maine Source List. For smaller vines in more refined landscapes, consider clematis hybrids.

Where can I find more information about this plant?

Check our fact sheet Asiatic Bittersweet or call your local Extension for print copy.

Consider Drip Irrigation for Your Garden

By Kate Garland, Horticulture Aide, Penobscot County, and Stephanie Burnett, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, University of Maine, Orono,

Drip irrigation, sometimes referred to as micro-irrigation, delivers small amounts of water under low pressure to plants through a network of strategically placed tubing.  This approach to watering has many benefits and is appropriate for all types of gardens including:  containers, vegetable & ornamental beds, raised beds, and even hanging baskets.  An increasing number of local retailers offer the basic equipment to put together a home system, and there are numerous on-line retailers that sell the materials as well.

Why install a drip irrigation system in Maine?

  • TIME: Busy lives and other garden duties should come before watering. Why spend time watering when you can be weeding, harvesting, or admiring your garden? Many gardeners go on vacation during periods of peak water demand. With a timer, drip irrigation can eliminate the worry and potential risk of leaving a garden unattended during hot summer months.
  • ACCURACY: These systems ensure that water reaches the roots and doesn’t run off the soil surface or evaporate into hot air. For this reason, drip irrigation is especially useful in beds that are located on a slope. Also, directing water to specific plants means you aren’t watering as many weeds.
  • DISEASE PREVENTION: Drip irrigation reduces the amount of water coming in contact with leaves. Plant diseases are less prevalent and easier to manage when foliage remains dry. Targeted irrigation at the base of the plant also reduces the amount of fungicides and pesticides washed off the plants.
  • MONEY: Gardening is almost never free.  Many people spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on plant material without considering how to consistently supply the water necessary to survive the crucial establishment period.  Consider drip irrigation an insurance policy for the investment that you have made in your landscape.  The low flow nature of drip irrigation also reduces nutrient leaching thus reducing fertilizer costs.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: Runoff from excessive watering practices can carry harmful nutrients and pesticide residues into local waterways. Phosphorous and nitrate, in particular, can harm aquatic ecosystems with high levels leading to algal blooms and reduced oxygen for aquatic animals. Drip irrigation minimizes runoff and protects waterways.

Materials commonly used in drip irrigation

Note: Starting at the water source, these items are listed in the order in which they are normally located within the system.

Timer: Although not essential, most drip irrigation systems have a timer.  If a timer is used, it is helpful to install a Y-connector at the water source so that a separate hose can bypass the timer when necessary.

Filter: A filter is a good idea for any water source, but is especially important when the water source is a well or pond. Filters remove small particles, such as soil, in the water to prevent emitters from clogging.

Pressure reducer: Water pressure varies from place to place and is often quite high, which results in blown out lines. A pressure reducer rated to approximately 40 pounds per inch2 (psi) will protect your irrigation system from the damaging effects of high water pressure. Be sure to check the irrigation emitters to determine what range of water pressures they will tolerate.

Irrigation tubing: Gardeners have three main options for irrigation tubing.  The simplest form is a soaker hose:  a porous-walled garden hose that allows water to slowly seep into soils. Another option is drip tape:  a thin-walled plastic tubing that has holes at pre-set intervals. Thick-walled plastic tubing is the third option. In this case, the installer decides where the holes should be. High quality thick walled tubing is recommended for long-term applications.

Fittings and valves: These are mainly used with thick-walled plastic irrigation tubing, but may be used with soaker hoses or drip tape as well.  These include “L” and “T” shaped connectors that direct the tubing around corners and in diverging directions.  Used in conjunction with shut-off valves, these can be used to establish different irrigation zones within the garden.  If an area isn’t planted, the valve can be closed off to minimize water use.

Emitters: When using thick walled irrigation tubing, holes are punched into the tubing and small, barbed emitters can be inserted into the holes.  Different emitter types have different output rates. Smaller sized tubing can be connected to emitters to apply water to areas further away from the main line. Some choose to not use emitters, simply letting the water to flow out of the tubing holes.

Goof plugs: These handy items plug holes in the irrigation line that are not in a desirable location. Goof plugs save you from being stuck with emitters in the wrong location and from replacing a whole irrigation line.

Even though Maine has relatively high annual rainfall totals, precipitation throughout the growing season can be unreliable and is often insufficient for optimal plant growth. A consistent water supply throughout the entire growing season is essential for producing high quality, high yielding plants.  Drip irrigation is an efficient solution meeting your garden’s water needs.

For more information:

Hutchinson, M.  Trickle Irrigation:  Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden. University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin 2160.

Broner, I. Drip Irrigation for Home Gardens. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension publication 4.702 (1998).

Parsons, J., S. Cotner, R. Roberts, C. Finch, D. Welsh, and L. Stein.  Efficient Use of Water in the Garden and Landscape. Texas A&M Extension.

Maine Home Garden News — July, 2010

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

July is the month to . . .

By Hannah Todd, Horticulture Aide, Somerset and Piscataquis Counties,

  • Keep the vegetables coming! To get a continuous supply of vegetables during the summer and fall consider succession planting of vegetables like beans, beets, lettuce, radish, carrots, etc. Remember you can always use season extension methods later in the fall to protect crops.
  • Start/continue harvesting your early crops like lettuce, spinach, etc. Peas are typically ready for harvest around the 4th of July.
  • If you haven’t done so already, stake up tomatoes. This can help protect them from disease as they will receive better aeration. Staking will also make it easier to prune and monitor the plants.
  • Side dress vegetables, such as tomatoes and corn, as they begin to set their crops. Never add fertilizer to bone dry soils. Either water it in or add it when the soil is already moist.
  • Renovate strawberries after harvest is complete. For more information see Bulletin #2067,  Growing Strawberries.

    Squash Bug

    Squash Bug; photo by J. F. Dill

  • Check your vegetable and flower gardens for insect or disease pests at least once a week, on a dry day. Don’t know what is causing damage? Bring a sample into your local UMaine Extension county office or send us a digital picture of the problem. Also check out UMaine Extension’s pest management for homeowners Web site.
  • Fertilize annual flowering plants regularly during the summer to maintain growth.
  • Dead head flowers to maintain flowering habit during the summer.
  • Got one or more woodchucks/groundhogs wreaking havoc in your garden? Live traps work for removal and traditional wire mesh fences, buried 1 foot below ground and 3 to 4 feet above, will help deter them. They are not a game animal so shooting them is always an option, too, but be sure to check local ordinance before taking that “final” step. The USDA Wildlife Services have wildlife biologist on hand to help with homeowner questions and concerns. You can reach them at (207) 629-5181.
  • Pull weeds before they set seeds and then add mulch over the soil to reduce future weed growth and to reduce fungal disease spores from splashing onto plant foliage. The mulch will also preserve soil moisture.
  • July can be a dry month, so be prepared to water. The garden needs an inch to an inch and a half of water a week. A 10′ x 10′ garden will need 60 gallons of water. Save your back from lugging all that water—see our publication on trickle irrigation, Bulletin #2160, Trickle Irrigation: Using and Conserving Water in the Home Garden.
  • Use proper canning and freezing techniques to preserve the bounty of your garden. If you don’t know proper food preservation methods, call your local UMaine Extension county office.
  • Learn something new! Attend a UMaine Extension event. To find out what’s going on, visit our calendar.
  • Visit a garden center or demonstration garden to get some new ideas for your perennial gardens. Among others, the Augusta Arboretum and the Boothbay Botanical Gardens are worth a visit. Contact a local garden club to see if there are any demonstration/destination gardens in your hometown. You never know one could be growing right in your backyard!

The Maine Garlic Project: A Participatory Research Project
By Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D., Extension Crop Specialist, and David Fuller, Extension Agricultural Professional,

garlicGarlic is grown in every county in Maine. Much of the management information used to produce garlic ranges from myths to reality has not been generated under Maine conditions. Despite this, respectable garlic crops are produced. Better organization and quality of production data can only improve garlic.

The Maine Garlic Project is a participatory research program with gardeners and market farmers in Maine. Gardeners and market farmers will be contributing to the overall knowledge of garlic and garlic production in Maine. Specifically, goals of the Maine Garlic Project include development of optimal planting and harvest times for different areas of the state. A benefit would also be cataloging fertility used to produce the crop, raising the awareness of home-produced food. The project may add a new crop to many home gardens. Participants will buy into the program for a $5 cost-recovery fee where they will receive a garlic bulb in the mail along with planting instructions and data collection information. Data collected will be the date and location where the garlic is planted (county and town), soil test number (from the Maine Soil Test Report), any added fertility, the variety of garlic, mulching date, emergence date, maturity date, harvest date, bulb measurements, and ratings on bulb appearance and flavor. Those wishing to participate with their own garlic stock are welcome to supply information. From collected data, it is hoped that the goal of optimal planting and harvest times for different areas of the state could be developed.

Growing Garlic in Maine
By Steven B. Johnson, Ph.D., Extension Crop Specialist, and David Fuller, Extension Agricultural Professional,


Garlic has been cultivated for thousands of years and is widely used in many cultures. Hardneck garlic varieties (Allium sativum var. ophioscorodon) produce a flower stalk, technically, a scape, and are difficult to braid.

Soils and Fertility

Garlic will grow in almost any well-drained, friable soil, preferably with good organic matter content and a loose growing bed. Ideal pH is between 6 and 7. Garlic is a heavy feeder, requiring more than 100 pounds per acre of N P and K. This is about five tablespoons of 10-10-10 for six cloves. Incorporate the fertilizer before planting. Additional N in the spring could be added as shoots emerge and again about two to three weeks later. Add about a quarter of the preplanting rate at each spring fertilizing.


Separate individual cloves from the bulb up to two days before planting. Cloves separated for longer than two days tend to dry out. Plant the cloves with the pointed side up so the point is covered with two to four inches of soil. Planting dates range from end of September to the second week of October, from north to south, or about two weeks after the first hard freeze. Plant the cloves in a row 6 inches apart and 8 inch spacing between rows.


About four weeks after planting, cover garlic row with a two-inch to four-inch layer of mulch. Remove the mulch after the threat of hard freezes is over.


Scapes (flower stalks with small aerial bulbels) may be removed as they straighten out, perhaps as soon as they come out.

Harvesting and Curing

Harvest dates range from late June to early August, from south to north. Harvest when half or slightly more than half of the leaves remain green. The bulbs should fully be developed and well formed with a tight outer skin. Dig the garlic with a garden fork with the shoots and roots still attached. Dry the harvested plants in a dark and well-ventilated area. After about three to four weeks of curing, the shoots and roots should have dried down. Cut the tops to about one-half to one inch above the main bulb and trim the roots close to the base of the bulb.


Store the harvested garlic in the dark at 32° to 40°F with 60% to 70% relative humidity. Alternately, garlic can be stored at room temperature with 60% to 70% relative humidity. Temperatures between 42° and 52° F will cause sprouting; and humidity greater than 70% tends to promote rooting.

Recognizing and Managing Invasive Plants: Sweet Autumn Olive
By Dr. Lois Berg Stack, Extension Specialist, Ornamental Horticulture; Dr. Mary Rumpho, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Univ. of Maine; and Dr. Donglin Zhang, Associate Professor of Horticulture, University of Maine. For more information, contact


Sweet autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata) has long been planted by homeowners and land managers as an ornamental shrub, a hedgerow plant, and a provider of food and cover for birds. Unfortunately, over the years, it has become a highly invasive plant in New England and other regions of the United States.

sweet-autumn-oliveWhat does it look like?

Sweet autumn olive is quite distinct, particularly when it displays its fragrant flowers in June, or its colorful fruits in August-October. With a little practice, you can learn to recognize it easily even as a young seedling.

Sweet autumn olive is a twiggy shrub that reaches 12-15′ in height and width. Its leaves are bright green on top and silver-green below, 1-3 inches long, oval with a blunt or pointed tip, and they alternate along the stem. Their edges are often slightly wavy. If you look at the leaves with a hand lens, you’ll see an unusual texture: the lower leaf surfaces are covered with silvery-white scales. Few plants have this characteristic. The stems are slender and often spiny.

The shrubs reach maturity in as little as three years, at which time they produce 1/2-inch long, funnel-shaped flowers in June; these are pale yellow and highly fragrant. The fruits that develop from the flowers are 1/4″ – 1/3″ in diameter, slightly longer than broad, and juicy. If you look closely at the fruits, you’ll see another unique identifying trait: the fruits are covered with scales that look like gold-silver flecks.

How and where does sweet autumn olive invade new sites?

Birds eat sweet autumn olive fruits and distribute the seeds over long distances. Mature plants produce more than 60,000 seeds each and germination rates exceed 50%. The plants fix nitrogen, allowing them to survive in very infertile soils. They also tolerate salt, drought, and very acid soils. These facts, taken all together, explain why sweet autumn olive readily colonizes roadsides, abandoned fields, utility rights-of-way, woodland edges, and disturbed soils in landscapes.

How can I control sweet autumn olive?

No single method controls this plant. By combining the following methods, you can manage it:

  1. Do not purchase or plant this species. Scout your neighborhood; you might be able to organize a neighborhood management effort of prevention and management. Because birds carry seeds from one site to another, this is not a single-landowner problem; it’s a community problem.
  2. Learn to recognize the plant as a young seedling (see the photo in this article) and scout your property. Hand-pull young seedlings when they are easily removed from the ground. By removing them before they reach maturity, you can prevent future seed crops. Watch for the seedlings as you weed your garden.
  3. Mowing or cutting back to the ground is not effective, as sweet autumn olive readily produces new growth. However, if you are unable to eradicate the plants, you can cut back the stems before the fruits mature in the fall, thereby preventing a new crop of plants.
  4. Several herbicides are labeled to control this plant. E-mail for specific recommendations.

If I remove this plant from my landscape, what can I plant in its place?

Most people who plant sweet autumn olive value it for its rapid growth, fragrant flowers, and fruits that feed birds. Some alternatives that are native to Maine include

  • Dogwoods: Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea), silky dogwood (Cornum amomum) and gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) produce abundant fruits for birds over many weeks. More than 100 birds are reported to eat gray dogweed fruits.
  • Chokeberry: Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa) produces beautiful white flowers in May and black fruits that disappear quickly as birds eat them in August. As a bonus, most black chokeberries develop spectacular red/maroon/scarlet/orange fall color.
  • Winterberry: Ilex verticillata is a popular landscape plant, whose red fruits support birds in late fall and early winter.
  • Viburnums: Maine boasts seven native viburnums. While all are susceptible to viburnum leaf beetles, they are excellent landscape plants where the beetles are not problematic. Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago) and wild-raisin (Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides) are widely available at nurseries. [Note: while not native, two other viburnums, Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii) and Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii) produce very fragrant flowers in spring, and are much less susceptible to viburnum leaf beetles.]

Where can I find more information?

Check our fact sheet Autumn Olive / Russian Olive, Bulletin #2525.

Protecting Yourself from Ticks
By Kathy Murray, Ph.D. Entomologist, Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources,


Deer tick or black-legged tick (left); American dog tick (right)

Ticks and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease are much in the news. With good reason — the incidence of Lyme disease and its vector, the deer tick, also called the black-legged tick, have been increasing annually, with record numbers in 2010. There are about a dozen additional tick species in the state. Ticks aren’t enough to keep Mainers indoors but you should take steps to protect yourself, your family and your pets.  Here’s how.

Avoid Tick Habitat

Wooded areas with shrubby undergrowth, grassy edges adjacent to woods, and open grassy areas are favorite tick habitats. Walk in the center of wooded paths and avoid vegetation along path edges or avoid tick-infested areas when possible. Keep pets out of tick-infested areas too.

Cover Up Outdoors

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants that are tight around the wrist, ankle, and neck. Tuck pants into socks. Yes, you’ll look like a nerd, but it beats getting Lyme disease!
  • Use a repellent containing DEET according to label directions — particularly on shoes, socks, and pant legs. Avoid applying high-concentration products to the skin, especially on children.
  • People who must be in areas where ticks are prevalent may pre-treat protective clothing with a permethrin-containing product which both repels and kills ticks. Caution: this is not for use on skin; use only as directed on the label.
  • Inspect yourself, your clothing, your children, your companion, and your pets for ticks when you return indoors. Ticks often attach in body folds, behind ears, and in the hair. If possible, shower and wash clothes immediately. Heat drying is effective in killing ticks.
  • To protect pets, consult your veterinarian about tick repellents or, in high risk areas, the Lyme vaccine for dogs.

Create a Tick-Safe Zone Around Your Home

Tick numbers can be reduced by making simple landscape changes to your property.

  • In transition area between lawn and woods, keep a well-manicured border. Trim back tree branches that overhang the lawn. Clear out low brush, vines and leaf litter. Keep weeds cut. Install a wood chip, mulch or gravel barrier where your lawn meets the woods. The dry barrier makes it more difficult for the ticks to migrate.
  • Reduce habitat for small mammals such as mice that support tick populations by clearing away brush, leaf litter, fallen trees and rocks each year. Compost or bag and remove leaf litter. Avoid use of ground cover vegetation in frequently used areas. Place woodpiles far from the house.
  • Mow grass and brush low (3-4″).
  • Move bird feeders away from areas where people and pets play. Don’t feed birds in spring and summer. Birds and rodents (that feed on spilled feed) carry ticks.
  • Select deer-resistant flowers, shrubs or trees (see Landscape Plants Rated by Deer Resistance, Rutgers: New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station) to keep deer and their hitchhiking ticks away.

Removal of Ticks

  • Use fine-tipped tweezers or a tick removal tool (readily available at stores) to remove attached ticks. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick; this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove mouthparts with tweezers.
  • Do not squeeze, crush, or puncture the body of the tick because its fluids may contain infectious organisms.
  • Do not handle the tick with bare hands because infectious agents may enter through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin.
  • Apply antiseptic to the bite and wash hands with soap and water.
  • Consult a physician if you remove an engorged tick. Save the tick for identification in a small vial of alcohol. Medical care should be sought when a person is bitten by a deer tick or is exhibits Lyme disease symptoms.

For More Information: