Mexican Honey Wasp |Daphne Richards |Central Texas Gardener - Lake Harding Association

Mexican Honey Wasp |Daphne Richards |Central Texas Gardener

Mexican Honey Wasp |Daphne Richards |Central Texas Gardener

By Micah Moen 1 Comment February 10, 2020


– In San Antonio, Mark Harris spotted this
beach-ball sized, papery-looking nest near the top of a tree, home to hundreds of flying
insects. Should he be concerned about them? It’s hard to see individual insects here,
but from their behavior, my entomology colleague Wizzie Brown suspects Mexican honey wasps. Wizzie tells us that these wasps are not very
aggressive and often ignore human activity. They’re also beneficial pollinators and can
feed on harmful insects. You’ll most often notice the nests when deciduous
trees lose their leaves. Writer and Texas Master Naturalist Sheryl
Smith-Rodgers documented the relocation of one beneficial colony to her Texas Wildscape
habitat garden. If you’re looking to add more native plants
this year, it’s the perfect time to plant American beautyberry, a native understory
small shrub for part shade. Deciduous in winter, its late spring flowers
attract bees, butterflies and other pollinators. And in fall, American beautyberry provides
a plethora of purple or white berries to feed birds and small mammals, like this one, shared
with us from Agnes Fajkus, in Fayette County. As we prepare our planting beds for a new
season, should we do a soil test? Soil tests determine nutrient levels, so you
only need one if you’re trying to decide how to fertilize. If you have natives or well adapted plants,
you may never need to fertilize them, in which case, a soil test isn’t necessary. One important note: it’s not just soil fertility
but soil type that determines what will grow successfully for you. Some plants prefer well-drained, even rocky
locations, while others need deeper or heavier soil, for more water-holding capacity. Be sure you know what type of soil you have
in your landscape before you plant. Another question we often get. What’s the difference between compost and
mulch? The answer is, mostly time. Mulch is relatively large aggregate organic
matter, used to protect the soil from evaporation. Compost is much smaller aggregate organic
matter that has broken down over time, due to the activity of microbes. Compost can be used as mulch, but those smaller
particles break down even further rather quickly, while mulch will break down more slowly. It’s best to incorporate compost to the soil
when planting, where it assists with water and nutrient-holding capacity. Or, you can add a thin layer on top of soil
each season underneath any new mulch that you apply. Many people often wonder about just exactly
what I do, as an Extension horticulturist. The Extension Service exists to help educate
community residents on various topics, encouraging the adoption of best management practices. As a horticulturist, my focus is to help people
with issues surrounding landscape practices and gardening. My favorite place to do my job is right here
on CTG, but I also give presentations at various events and conferences, and organize lectures
and workshops. We also have many online resources, and we
announce all of our upcoming programs on our various websites. One of my most intensive programs is the Master
Gardener training, which I offer at most once a year. After completion of this eight-week course,
participants spend a year as Master Gardener Intern volunteers. And after successful completion of the internship,
participants earn the title of Travis County Master Gardener, where they continue to assist
me with implementing my educational programs. The easiest way to find out more about all
of our programs is to do an internet search for Travis County Extension Horticulture,
or call our office. We’d love to hear from you! Check out centraltexasgardener.org. to send
us your questions, stories and videos.

1 Comment found

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Danny Blueberry5

Very interesting information shared. I cannot take my eyes off of your pup. The way her eyes look up at you while you were speaking were so adorable.

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