It’s that time of year again when the Asian Lady Beetles are seeking a place to spend the winter. They are congregating on the sun-warmed sides of buildings and homes looking for a protected site or tiny opening to crawl inside to a warm and dry place, out of the coming cold. They overwinter as adults in a dormant state, not eating, drinking, mating or laying eggs. They are not doing any damage to the house, just using it like a bear uses a cave for the winter.  Once they are inside, some are fooled by the artificial environment we create by lighting our home during the night hours and heating when it is cold outside, to come out of their winter rest early, becoming a nuisance inside.

Their spots and coloring will vary, but they will also have the same ‘M’ mark in black on their head.


A gathering of Asian Lady Beetles.

They are annoying to share living space with them. Keep them out of your house by keeping screens in screen doors in good repair. Caulk or seal up any cracks or crevices allowing access for them to crawl inside. Screen attic vents and fan covers to exclude lady beetles from attics and air inlets. Pesticides are not warranted for them as they are considered beneficial. Vacuum up any that do make their way into the home.

Other insects that have the same habit of trying to get enter buildings to overwinter in their adult stage are stinkbugs, boxelder bugs and leaf-footed bugs. Control measures are the same as for the lady beetles.


Boxelder bug


Brown Marmorated Stink Bug



Leaf-footed Bug

-Carol Quish

“The crickets still sing in October. And lilly, she’s trying to bloom. ‘Tho she’s resting her head on the shoulder of death, she still shines by the light of the moon.” Kevin Dalton


Red maples show how they got their common name

If you know where to look, October has drama unfolding every day. Autumn isn’t just about the colorful leaves. Don’t forget the drama in the midst of them. The last of the migrating birds are coming through, catbirds are leaving as soon as pokeberry fruit is disappearing, gray tree frogs are ready to call it a night and bees are getting the last nectar of the season from any flowers that remain. Virginia creeper and poison ivy have berries that are ripe now and provide an important food source for both migrating and resident birds. Insects are becoming fewer in numbers, and who will miss those mosquitoes and gnats that were so annoying for such a long time this year? Moving into autumn provides a relief from some things and an enjoyable period of cooler weather and deeper blue skies and a palette of warmer colors in the landscape.


Virginia creeper climbing up two tree trunks

For instance, you may notice the sweet aroma of cotton candy or burnt sugar in the breeze while walking near a Katsura tree that is losing its apricot-colored, heart-shaped leaves. The Katsura tree, Cercidiphyllum japonicum, is noted for both its dapper form, warm autumn color, and especially for the scent of its fallen leaves. Leaves that are still on the tree do not have this aroma as strongly as those that have fallen and turned brown, but as the chlorophyll production stops, malt sugars are now the prominent component of the Katsura tree leaves. The fragrance that floats in the air surrounding this non-native tree is stronger on dry days.


Katsura tree leaves have a strong burnt sugar smell after they fall from the tree

For a plant of an entirely different nature, head for the salt marshes of the shoreline in early autumn. Splashes of brilliant red among the otherwise brown grasses and sedges in the coastal landscape are most likely glasswort, Salicornia spp, a fleshy low- growing salt tolerant plant with scale- like leaves that form on segments of fleshy stems. Related to certain cactus, the stems are edible when young, and are often eaten pickled- thus its common name is pickleweed or sea pickle. One of the first plants to colonize bare areas in marshes with high salinity (pannes), glasswort can often form large stands, adding a bursts of brilliant red in the otherwise drab late season marshes.


Glasswort adds a splash of red in a salt marsh

When preparing to pull annuals out of pots or bring large potted plants indoors, you may find some hitchhikers aboard. Gray tree frogs often decide to pass the winter in the mulch or soil in large planters or pots. If the potted plants are brought indoors intact, after a while, as plants may need watering, a little trill may come from below the plants. This would be the gray tree frog that thought it had the perfect place to spend the winter. If you discover them in the house in the late fall or winter, it is best to leave them be until spring. Then bring the pot out again, and they should hop away to better quarters. Do not put the frogs outdoors after weather has turned cold, as they will not be able to acclimatize properly and they will perish.


Sleepy gray tree frog removed from a large pot was returned to the landscape in October-plenty of time to acclimate for the winter


Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are still around, but not for long. Black swallowtail caterpillars and spicebush caterpillars are both abundant right now, and should be approaching the last instar before forming their chrysalises. On October 12, my friend and I found three spicebush caterpillars on the same sassafras tree, and two were even sharing the same leaf shelter. As leaves lose their color, caterpillars will not eat them, and they may perish before entering their pupal stage. But these cats should be fine as the host plants for both species are still in fine form.


Spicebush swallowtail caterpillar turned gold before forming a chrysalis

Last Friday- October 7, 2016- there was a heavy fog in the morning. As the fog slowly lifted there was evidence that spiders were very active the day or night before. Webs and the start of webs appeared everywhere, it seemed- on shrubs, herbaceous plants, trees and man- made objects. Dew drops on the silk made them even more spectacular as they glittered like thousands of little diamonds. That is about the only thing I may find delightful about spiders, though, even though they serve a good purpose outdoors. That’s right, I am an arthropod snob.


Spider web strands of silk in morning fog


Last Friday- October 7, 2016- there was a heavy fog in the morning. As the fog slowly lifted there was evidence that spiders were very active the day or night before. Webs and the start of webs appeared everywhere, it seemed- on shrubs, herbaceous plants, trees and man- made objects. Dew drops on the silk made them even more spectacular as they glittered like thousands of little diamonds. That is about the only thing I may find delightful about spiders, though, even though they serve a good purpose outdoors. That’s right, I am an arthropod snob.


Praying mantid hiding in asters caught a honey bee

In October, crickets are singing in the night, sometimes joined by the few katydids that still remain. Birds that have ceased their breeding songs still can be heard in their contact calls. Catbirds have left, but a few stragglers may still be seen and heard. The large darner dragonflies migrate south, but some are still around, and the usual house invaders- boxelder bugs, lady beetles and brown marmorated stink bugs – can be seen on sunny sides of buildings waiting for you to open a door.


Closed gentians along a water way- a late-blooming native wildflower

As autumn increases in cooler weather, duller landscape colors and shorter daylight periods, try not to be a SAD sufferer. Look to the skies at dawn and dusk for spectacular sunrises and sunsets that occur as the atmosphere gets colder. Enjoying the warm, red colors of the sunrises and sunsets of autumn and winter may be a countermeasure to the otherwise dismal aspect of the landscape. And a brighter start to the day and a warmer beginning to the evening is a great antidote to those of us who look forward to spring while having to endure the winter. So…

Listen! the wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves. We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves. ~Humbert Wolfe

Pamm Cooper                 all photos copyright 2016 Pamm Cooper






There was a row of spruce trees along the back yard that were about 4’ tall when we moved into our home in 1986. By 2016 they had grown to over 20’ and formed a great screen between our yard and a neighbor’s yard. This past fall and winter one of the trees just quickly declined and died. It is in fact the first tree on the right in the second photo which looked pretty healthy in 2015. The remaining trees appear to be fine. We decided to take it down and I had hoped that there might be a clue as to the cause of its demise.


Winter 1986



Winter 2015


Although the other trees in the row looked fine this particular tree had no needles left on any of the branches. The first step that my husband took was to remove as many limbs as he could safely reach. What remained looked like a very sad cell tower although the birds didn’t seem to mind and still liked to perch there. The image below that shows the felled tree shows the top of the tree and the state that the branches were in. The next step was to use a chain saw to fell the tree. I must state that my husband is not a professional in this area but we did look at some reliable videos on YouTube so that we could follow the proper safety precautions and cutting procedure. We knew that there was a good, safe area for the tree to fall that was not near the house or deck.

The first step was to mark the cutting lines on the tree. Then, suited up with safety goggles, heavy gloves, steel-toed boots and our son’s old lacrosse helmet the cutting began. The first two cuts created the wedge that is removed on the side of the tree that it will fall toward. Next was the horizontal cut on the opposite side that does NOT go all of the through to the wedge. From this point the tree should fall into the first wedge and drop.


This tree did not want to go down quickly and it took several additional very minor incremental cuts until it began to fall forward at an unbelievably undramatic rate. The trunk didn’t even hit the ground, the remaining branches on the top kept it perpendicular to the plane of the earth.

So wouldn’t the next step be to cut the trunk it manageable pieces? Well, it would unless your son is looking for a 125 lb. log to use to practice a caber toss for next year’s Scottish games! It sits behind our shed waiting for him.


I had asked my husband to leave about a 2 ½’ stump hoping that I could do something decorative or whimsical with it. A great garden shop that I visit in Manchester had just the bowl portion of a birdbath, the base having been ruined at some point. I brought it home and my husband drilled a hole in the center of the stump so that the base would nest securely in it. I also applied polyurethane to the bark of the stump so that it was the same shade and finish of the bowl. They look great together.



I didn’t really see any distinct indications as to the demise of the tree. There were few bored holes near the top which could have been the result of woodpecker or sapsucker feeding. If they were from a borer I didn’t see any tunnels or galleries that went on extensively. In fact, the heartwood, sapwood, and cambium layers all looked surprisingly healthy. The problem could have been root-related but as we didn’t dig out the stump that will remain a mystery.


Did you know that the Europeans that arrived in North America in the 1600s that Connecticut was more than 90% covered by forested land? Even though the Native Americans burned the forests in the spring and fall to eliminate underbrush and provide a better habitat for the game that they hunted their habits did not have a very big impact on the landscape. The influx of colonists however, with their need for lumber for housing, furniture, and barns, not to mention wood for fuel and cleared land for farming caused forested acreage to decrease steadily until it reached an all-time low in 1820 when only 25% of the state of Connecticut was considered forested. This also affected the animal populations that depended on the wooded areas for their habitats but also led to an increase in soil erosion.

When the Erie Canal opened in October of 1825 it unintentionally caused this trend to be reversed. As it became easier to transport produce from large mid-West farms the smaller farms of New England began to disappear. Percentages of forested land increased to the point that by the 1950s 70% of the state was once again forested.In fact, a recent photo opportunity showed a freight train that was hauling lumber from California and Canada, not Connecticut.


Connecticut is one of the most densely populated states and even with the effects of urban sprawl we are still considered one of the most heavily forested states with the current percentage close to 60% according to the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The DEEP works with private landowners, state and town municipalities, and local forest industries to protect Connecticut’s forest resources. Among the information that they share is their work with two current invasive species that are causing harm to our hardwood trees: the Asian Longhorned Beetle and the Emerald Ash Borer. The insect images are from the DEEP website.

Connecticut, along with the rest of the New England states, is known for its spectacular displays of fall foliage. This year’s water shortage may affect this year’s show but not as much as a reduction in our forested areas would. Nowhere in Connecticut are you too far from a forested area and the beauty that they provide year-round.

Susan Pelton

Do your bean leaves look like they’ve sprouted freckles or gotten the measles? It’s probably bean rust caused by the fungus Uromyces appendiculatus.  Spots appear raised on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces and may have yellow borders.  As disease progresses, leaves may brown and fall from the plant.  Of course, this can impact crop production.  Bean pods may also become infected, further affecting harvest quality.

The rust fungi have interesting life cycles that can involve two unrelated hosts and up to five different spore types. In the case of bean rust, there is only one host, making this an autoecious rust, but all five spore types occur.  The fungus overwinters in the thick-walled teliospore stage associated with infected plant debris.  In the photo below, the darker spores are teliospores (first spore type).


Thick walled teliospores (darker) are the overwintering spore stage. The lighter colored spores without stems are urediniospores that are produced throughout the growing season. J. Allen, UConn

In the spring, coinciding with favorable weather and the time when young bean plants would be susceptible, the teliospores germinate and produce basidiospores (spore type 2) that initiate infections on bean leaves (and sometimes stems).  As this infection progresses within the leaf, tiny structures called pycnia containing pycniospores (spore type 3) are produced on the leaf surface.  Pycniospores are extruded in a sweet liquid attractive to some insects.  When the insects feed on the liquid, they pick some up on their external body parts and move the pycniospores from one pycnium to another.  When pycniospores of one mating type are introduced into a pycnium of the opposite mating type, it leads to the production of the fourth spore type, the aeciospore, on the opposite (lower) side of the leaf.  The aeciospores in turn infect the leaf and this infection leads to the production of new pustules containing urediniospores (fifth spore type), the orange or rust colored spores that give this disease and other rust diseases their common name. Urediniospores are produced throughout the growing season and, under favorable conditions (moist), can cause additional infections.  Late in the season, the thick-walled teliospores are produced in the same pustules as the urediniospores as cooler weather approaches, completing the fungus’ life cycle.

In my garden, rust occurred on the pole beans but not on the bush beans. This is not surprising because many bean cultivars have resistance to at least some of the many strains of the bean rust fungus.  Control measures include thorough removal of infected plant debris (don’t compost), resistant varieties, and minimizing leaf wetness by providing for ample plant spacing and avoiding overhead irrigation.  Spores require moisture to germinate and cause new infections.  To minimize spread, avoid working among the plants when they are wet.  Fungicides labeled for bean rust are available and, if needed, should be applied beginning when symptoms first appear and at the interval recommended on the label.  When using pesticides, always read and follow the label carefully.

As a quick side note, I found two-spotted spider mites on my beans, too. Not only that, but the larvae of a beneficial predator of the spider mites, the midge Feltiella acarisuga was noted as shown in the below photos.

Symptoms of spider mite infestation include a ‘stippling’ effect on the leaves from many tiny spots at the mites’ feeding sites, and especially on the lower leaf surfaces, and signs include webbing, mites and eggs.  These mites are favored by hot, dry conditions so this summer was great for them.  They are often kept in check by naturally occurring parasites and predators that can be eliminated by the use of insecticides/miticides resulting in a more severe mite outbreak following application.

J. Allen, Assistant Extension Educator

Late summer through early fall is a favorite time of year for many northeast gardeners, including myself. Much of the vegetable harvest has been collected, asters and goldenrods dot the fields and byways, and moonflowers and morning glories are at their peak.

Morning glory is the common name for a large number of flowering plants in the Convolvulaceae family. In the northeast we grow several species as beautiful cultivated annuals. Most members of the morning glory family are from the warmer regions of the world and are killed by frost. Of course the one species that is hardy, bindweed, is an invasive weed and is very difficult to eradicate.


Lovely to look at but difficult to eradicate. Bindweed from

Probably the most well-known morning glory is Ipomoea tricolor ‘Heavenly Blue’. I have never seen a more perfect blue flower. It is that same azure blue that one sees looking up to the sky on a sunny, clear September day. The sky blue blossoms have a creamy white center and reach up to 5 inches across. The attractive, heart-shaped leaves are occasionally nibbled on by tortoise beetles but otherwise are pretty much left alone.


Heavenly Blue morning glory from

‘Heavenly Blue’ was my standard for a number of years until I was introduced to ‘Blue Star’ by a fellow garden club member. This cultivar also has large flowers but they are a dreamy pale blue with a darker blue star on the interior of the blossom. Quite striking and a bit different. Last year I planted pale yellow snapdragons and white sweet alyssum at its feet for a rewarding show from midsummer until the morning glories were hit by a frost.


Blue Star morning glory by dmp.

I thought I had picked up a ‘Heavenly Blue’ morning glory plant last June at a plant sale. It was a seedling with only the cotyledon leaves unfurled and a tag that said blue morning glory. So it was planted next to the pergola, watered and to be honest, forgotten about. When I finally got back to that bed to do some weeding and mulching, I noticed the morning glory had 3-lobed not heart-shaped leaves and smaller bluish flowers. The stems were hairy and the plants stopped blooming in August. Maybe they would have continued if they were watered more regularly. It looks like this plant is the ivy-leaved morning glory, I. hederacea. I saved some seeds and will probably grow it next year.


lvy leaf morning glory with seed pods by dmp

In a large container filled with the scarlet and gold gloriosa lilies I always plant a few saved seeds of the cypress vine, I. quamoclit, for the hummingbirds. These plants quickly germinate and scramble up the obelisk. By the end of the summer they are clambering up the drainpipe and heading for the roof. Bright red tubular flowers are pentagonal in shape when viewed from the front. The leaves are finely dissected.


I. qumoclit Cypress vine by dmp

Another favorite morning glory which I did not get around to planting this year is the moon flower, I. alba. While morning glories open during the day and close with the setting sun, moon flowers do just the opposite. Huge white fragrant flowers unfold as the sky dims. They stay open all night to be pollinated by moths and close as the sun arises. Flowering is brought on by a summer short day photoperiod which means that there are approximately 12 hours of light and darkness each day which is from late summer into early fall, in other words  right now. Someone the next town over planted a picket fence thick with moon flowers and I purposely drive by it as often as I can. The moon flower is also an heirloom plant. The buds open over the course of several minutes so you can just stand there and watch this amazing show.


Moon flowers by dmp.

We don’t often think of vegetables being related to flowers but sweet potatoes are also in the genus Ipomoea. I tried growing sweet potatoes a number of times. At first, it was a fairly successful endeavor and then, the voles found the plants. Last time I tried, I only got a small basketful of unchewed roots. The voles have not bothered the sweet potato vines that are sold and grown as foliage plants. (This could be because I keep them in containers off the ground!)

Sweet potato vines do not climb but just tend to cascade or sprawl so are a great choice for containers or hanging baskets. The colors of this foliage plant are great for pairing up with either contrasting or complementary plantings. The dark purple leaves of ‘Blackie’ look fantastic with coral verbena and silver dusty miller. Chartreuse ‘Margarita’ mixes it up nicely with blue salvia and yellow marguerites and green, pink and cream ‘Tricolor’ looks great with pink petunias.


Chartreuse, dark purple and tricolor sweet potato vines by dmp

Except for sweet potato vines which are typically purchased as plants, the other morning glories mentioned are all grown from seed. The seeds are poisonous and have a hard seed coat. While I have seen some sources suggest nicking the seed before planting, I find it is easier to just soak them overnight (or if you forget – for two nights) and then plant them. The seeds need warm soil temperatures to germinate so they do not usually get planted in New England until around Memorial Day weekend. Since many species and cultivars need 75 to 110 growing days before they blossom, you might want to start the seeds indoors 4 to 6 weeks before you can set them out.

If you do decide to start seeds indoors, give the seedlings something to grasp hold of. Morning glories have a curious way of climbing. This is a great video of young vines twisting and reaching out for that strong support:

This type of response when the vine encounters something it can wrap its stem around and then proceeds to do so, is called thigmotropism. It is movement of a plant in the direction of touch. The plant ‘feels’ an object in its path that it can use for support and the rubbing against this object causes the stem to curl around it. Whether the vine goes right to left or left to right seems to be predetermined by its genes.

Because morning glory flowers only last a day, the Victorians felt it symbolized love and affection as well as mortality. In modern times, the morning glory represents the eleventh year of marriage and the month of September – how appropriate.

Good gardening to you!

Dawn P.


Japanese Knotweed is a beautiful plant when in full, white flower stage. Too bad it is such a thug and invasive. It also makes a nice hedge, but quickly overtakes the properties if used as a boundary plant. Colonies can be seen just about everywhere along roadsides, in meadows and yards as it spreads so freely.


Japanese knotweed is also known as Japanese bamboo, American and Mexican Bamboo due to its hollow stems with nodes on them. The plant is known by three different Latin names of Fallopia japonica and Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc.  And Reynoutria japonica Houtt, but it all the same plant. No matter what you call it, it is aggressive, invasive and extremely hard to kill once established.

The plant was brought to the United States during the 1890’s from Asia as a solution to erosion. It will grow in just about any situation from full sun to complete shade, rich or lean soils, and dry or soggy soils. It tends to make a colony of plants, out-competing any and all other plants resulting in a monoculture. Since it evolved on another continent, it has no native predators, insect or animal that eats it enough to control its spread.


It reproduces vegetatively. If digging it out, any tiny piece of root left in the ground will quickly send up a shoot to get reestablished.  Control measures are difficult. Heavy machinery can dig out large infestations and monitor for a new sprouts to pull or treat with herbicides. Herbicides which contain Glyphosate or Triclopyr are the most successful and should be used before the plants flower or sprayed on cut stems. It has been reported that monthly mowing for five years will finally eradicate a large area.


-Carol Quish

What’s a butterfly garden without butterflies?  Roy Rogers


Tiger swallowtail visits a butterfly bush


Planting a butterfly garden is a hopeful enterprise which often has its rewards in the future and not in the same year of the planting. Typically, a couple of years is needed to provide abundant blooms and the subsequent attracting of butterflies. In my experience, the best butterfly gardens are those that include, as much as possible, the host plants that visiting butterflies will use for laying eggs for their caterpillars. Try planting a few blueberry bushes as several hairstreak butterflies us this as a host plant.


Striped hairstreak on common milkweed. Host plants for caterpillars include blueberry and oaks

When butterflies start to visit the garden, try to identify them and see if they may be laying eggs on already existing plants (like oaks and cherry, for instance, if tiger swallowtails are present). Having nectar sources nearby  the host plants for the caterpillars is a strong factor in what attracts butterflies to an area. So I say, if you plant it, they will come. Maybe. Sometime. They have to find it, so it can take time. If they are already passing through and laying eggs on suitable host plants, then nectar will keep their offspring coming back  to do the same.


Black swallowtail caterpillar with egg just underneath the leaf- Cohen pollinator and butterfly garden in Colchester

I have planted a native willow for Mourning Cloaks that come through the property every year. A sassafras that appeared several years ago has now become a regular host plant for the spicebush swallowtails that visit the garden for nectar. When you see any butterflies, egg laying should shortly follow, if it has not already taken place. This is why host plants in the vicinity of nectar sources is so important when planning a butterfly garden.A lone tiger swallowtail visited my garden late this spring and three weeks later I found its tiny caterpillar on a small black cherry sapling I had transplanted earlier that spring. It was barely in the ground and already had become a host plant.


The Cohen Woodlands Butterfly-Pollinator Garden in Colchester. Parsley in the foreground attracts black swallowtail females.


Three of the best butterfly gardens I have been to this year are the one at the Tolland County Agricultural Center in Vernon, the Cohen-Woodlands pollinator- butterfly garden in Colchester, and the Fletcher Library Garden in Hampton. The one thing all these gardens have in common is a good selection of three season nectar sources and nearby host plants. Four monarch caterpillars were on the butterfly weed in the Fletcher Library just two weeks ago, and one was on milkweed in the Cohen garden on September 5th. That is great news for the Monarchs which have suffered from devastating population declines in recent years.


Monarch caterpillar on milkweed at the Cohen Woodlands butterfly- pollinator garden


This Monarch caterpillar just left its butterfly weed host plant in search of a suitable spot to pupate at the Fletcher Library garden in Hampton

Plant parsley, fennel or dill if black swallowtails visit a garden. Small cherry and spicebush attract tiger swallowtails and spicebush swallowtails, respectively. Viceroys will lay eggs on willow and poplar and red- spotted purples lay eggs on cherry. Skippers for the most part prefer grasses for their larva, but the silver- spotted skipper, a frequent visitor to any garden, likes legumes. Pearl crescents like asters, and these flowers are visited by many migrating butterflies as most other nectar sources are going by in late summer.


Wild Indigo Duskywing on Salvia. Plant Baptisia for its caterpillars.

A must plant for pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds is Caryoptersis, also known as bluebeard. This perennial blooms from late- summer until fall. Lantana is a terrific annual for all butterflies, providing blooms until frost. Combined with asters, these plants are ideal nectar sources for fall migrators. Goldenrods, spotted Joe-pye, liatris, zinnias, obedient plant, alliums, butterfly bush, milkweeds, obedient plant and veronicas are also good selections for butterfly gardens. And there are so many more.


Silver-spotted skipper on bluebeard


Tiger Swallowtail on obedient plant, a favorite of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds


Spicebush swallowtail nectaring on a pink Coreopsis. Sassafras nearby is a host for the caterpillars.

Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs should all be under consideration when deciding what to plant for butterflies. My garden has been redesigned for birds, butterflies, pollinators and, just a little bit, for me. Although, I guess, it really is mostly for me because of the enjoyment I get watching these little visitors getting some use from the plants that were selected with them in mind in the first place. Of course, woodchucks were not in the equation (as squirrels were not either when putting out the BIRD feeder) …

Pamm Cooper                              All photos copyright 2016 by Pamm Cooper