Does anyone have any idea what is killing barberries in
Massachusetts? I live in a suburb west of Boston, and I just
noticed yesterday that there are some totally dead branches on one
of our barberries that had looked wonderfully healthy before that.
I was sort-of wondering whether the neighbor had poisoned them,
but when driving around this area, I see others that are totally
defunct or seemingly headed in that direction. If there is
anything I can do about this, I obviously want to. Thanks.
Jean, I think it was just the horrible winter we had. They're saying
it the worst since 1888. Wind burn is doing them in, I think. We
have blueberry bushes up in Maine that were hit hard, too. My roses
here were decimated.
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
I just read in the paper that there is a new caterpillar in E. Mass that is
decimating leaves and that is on top of the worst year for other
caterpillars ever. One possibility is that the intense cold killed the wasps
or beetles that prey on the larvae.
The caterpillars are overwhelming us here in W. Mass. Gypsy moths, tent
caterpillars, and a whole bunch of little ones we have no idea what they
are. They've chomped my Chionoides rhododendrons down to the stem and when I
went to the garden center this week I saw that theirs had big holes in them
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Hmmm. I haven't seen anything on them, so tomorrow I will look
closer. I did notice that my nishiki willow looked nice one day
and half naked the next day, and closer inspection revealed
caterpillars. If there are, indeed, caterpillars, can one spray
or something? Is there some non-chemical solution that would
work? Of course, there are some problems even if the answer is
yes. First, it would impossible to get to the inner parts of the
barberries--and these are huge. Second, I have a very bad
relationship with the neighbor, who wants the barberries gone, so
I am sure I would not have access to them from his side of them.
Maybe I should look more closely at my dogwoods too, to see if
they have any critters on them. I have seen a lot of devastation
of many types of plants here this spring. :-(
We have a new pest, the winter moth, and the caterpillars are
voracious eaters, like the canker worm. Remember last November all
those little white moths in your headlights? That's the buggers.
I have problems with the canker worms, so I spray every spring,
starting with leafout, with a BT spray on my cherries and flowering
almond. You have to start when they're young, they measure them by
instars or somesuch, when they're more than a half-inch long I think
they're too big for the BT to overcome them. Unfortunately at this
point I think only sevin will kill them, but you know all else that
will kill! If this is the first year of your infestation then the
trees and shrubs will releaf and recover. Next spring be sure to hit
them early and hard with the BT spray. Hose-end sprayers are cheap
and they spray 30' or so, so it isn't a problem to use them on
ornamental trees. Unfortunately the same can't be said of the oaks,
they've taken a hard hit, too, but they're too tall for me to spray
Ann, Gardening in zone 6a
Just south of Boston, MA
Do you think this could be the case, even when they leaves have
not been munched? Rather, they are TOTALLY dried up. I'm going
to go out to inspect the things more closely now. Maybe I'll have
Re the oaks--eeeek! I'll have to go out and gaze up at the ones
at the far end out our property. At least, if one does see some
devastation, it would be a relief to know it is something other
than sudden oak death.
gnawing--and nothing different about the one that has these dead
branches compared to its neighbors on each side which have none.
Yet. And the odd (to me) thing is the rapidity with which this is
happening--and the fact that the whole branches are dying at the
same time. I'm going to try to peer down the property line. I
will say that right before I noticed this, I was in the area of
the barberries and I noticed an odd smell--like some herbicide or
something.... And the neighbor HATES these bushes. (Mind you,
they were there before either of us moved in!) He wants that area
to be totally open, while my daughter and I crave privacy. Well,
if they die, the fence will be extended with no lag between taking
the bushes out and putting up the fence. Not one day's worth.
While I was out, I did see that my river birches' leaves are quite
gnawed--and I saw little green caterpillars, practically
invisible, glued to the leaf edges, so that is no mystery. :-(
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