Voles or Moles?

Outdoors

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Are some of your plants suddenly dying?  Did the tulips forget to bloom this spring?  After you hunted for some bulbs, did you find little tunnels in and around your flower beds?  If so, you may be a victim of the pine vole.

Often confused with moles, pine voles can be found in underground tunnels.  In fact, they may use mole runs just to make it easier to move around. Pine voles are usually 4 to 6 inches in length and are covered with brown, dense fur with a bicolored tail.  Their under parts are gray.

Pine voles prefer areas with a heavy ground cover of grasses.  They like living in deciduous and pine forested areas, abandoned fields and orchards.  They will eat grasses, seeds, tubers, bulbs and any underground growing part.

There are 23 vole species across the country.  They can cause extensive damage to orchards, ornamentals and trees due to their girdling of seedlings and trees.  Girdling usually occurs in fall and winter. The easily identifiable sign of voles is numerous burrow openings of about an inch around shrubs and flowers.  Voles are active day and night, year round, and they do not hibernate during the winter. Their “home” range is usually ¼ acre or less.

Moles, on the other hand, are found throughout a lawn or garden.  They have runs and push up soil just like the voles, but they do not come out of the ground.  They stick to a diet of grubs and other crawly creatures found in the soil, and they will sometimes kill plants as their tunnels will create air pockets that roots cannot live in, so proper identification of the mammal is important.

After identifying the culprit, controlling these rodents can be challenging.  Keeping grass in an area short helps with control because they do not like to move across open areas because of flying enemies.  Frightening devices or repellents generally do not work and although owls, snakes and hawks are predators of voles, they seldom control vole populations.  However, trapping, using a mouse snap trap, is effective along an active run during the winter. Favorite baits are peanut butter-oatmeal mixtures or apple slices.  Place several traps around a hole and cover it with a box to fool them with shelter and prevent pets from getting in the traps and if by chance one gets into a home, setting a snap or live trap as you would for house mice results in successful control.

If you are seeing the pushed up soil runs made by moles, there are two basic types of control.  There are harpoon traps that can be placed over an active run, but these are very tricky to use.  The most effective control has been to apply granular insecticides labeled to kill grubs. These will limit the moles food source and they will leave the area if they don’t have anything to eat.  The down side to this method is that the granules will also kill the beneficial critters that live in the ground. Remember when using any insecticide to always read and follow the label directions.

For more information, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Japanese Knotweed

Outdoors

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

Driving around the area, I have been seeing a plant that has become a problem in both Gilmer and Fannin Counties.  The weed I’m talking about is Japanese knotweed, commonly known as crimson beauty, Mexican bamboo, or Japanese fleece flower.  It was probably introduced to the U.S. as an ornamental and a plant that has flowers that bees love. It’s fairly easy to spot as it has been growing in large patches all over the area.  The leaves are alternate, 6 in. (15.2 cm) long, 3-4 in. (7.6-10 cm) wide, and are broadly-ovate or heart shaped. Flowering occurs in late summer when small, greenish-white flowers develop in long panicles in the axils of the leaves.

This native of Japan was initially useful for erosion control, as an ornamental, and for landscape screening.  It spreads quickly to form dense thickets that can alter natural ecosystems or interfere with landscaping. It is a semi-woody, bushy perennial and a member of the Polygonaceae (Knotweed) family.  Another fact about the plant is that the stem is hollow. Knotweed spreads rapidly from stout long rhizomes. Seeds are distributed by water in floodplains, transported with fill dirt, and to a lesser extent are wind-blown. Populations escaped from neglected gardens, and discarded cuttings are common methods of distribution. Once established, populations are quite persistent and can out-compete existing vegetation.

Japanese knotweed can tolerate a variety of adverse conditions including full shade, high temperatures, high salinity, and drought. It is found near water sources, in low-lying areas, waste places, utility rights of way, and around old home sites. It can quickly become an invasive pest in natural areas after escaping from cultivated gardens. It poses a significant threat to riparian areas, where it can survive severe floods. It is rapidly colonizing scoured shores and islands.

Controlling this invasive fast growing plant is very difficult.  One method that is used is grubbing. This method is appropriate for small initial populations or environmentally sensitive areas where herbicides cannot be used. Using a digging tool, remove the entire plant including all roots and runners. Juvenile plants can be hand-pulled.  Any portions of the root system not removed will potentially resprout. All plant parts, including mature fruit, should be bagged and disposed of in a trash dumpster to prevent re-establishment.

There are several herbicides that can be used, but it takes some work for them to be effective.  One treatment method is the cut stump treatment. Use this method in areas where plants are established within or around non-target plants. Cut the stem 2 inches above ground level.  Immediately apply a 20% solution of glyphosate or a 10% solution of Arsenal AC, Polaris AC or Imazapyr 4SL and water to the cross-section of the stem. A subsequent foliar application may be required to control new seedlings and resprouts.

The other spray method is foliar spraying the plants.  Use this method to control large populations. It may be necessary to precede foliar applications with stump treatments to reduce the risk of damaging non-target species.  Apply a 1% solution of glyphosate or 20%Garlon4 and water to thoroughly wet all foliage. Do not apply so heavily that herbicides will drip off leaves. The ideal time to spray is after surrounding vegetation has become dormant (October-November) to avoid affecting non-target species.  A 0.5% non-ionic surfactant is recommended in order to penetrate the leaf cuticle.

For more information, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Outdoors

By:  Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

As I ride through the county I’ve noticed some webs are back in the wild cherry trees but before you start having nightmares about the webbing we had last fall, you can rest assured that this insect is different.  This culprit is the Eastern Tent Caterpillar. The webs serve as a home to the newly emerged larvae or as we like to call them, caterpillars. The eggs are timed to hatch when the cherry buds unfurl as they need to eat to grow and complete their life cycle.

Older larvae are generally black, with long brown hair and a white stripe down the middle of their backs. Along the midline is a row of blue spots with brown and yellow lines. At maturity, the caterpillars may reach a length of 2½ inches. The adults are reddish-brown moths which have two white oblique stripes on each forewing.  These are harder to notice, but they are the final step in the life cycle.

The adult moths emerge in May and early June and lay egg masses that resemble chocolate-colored collars that encircle the smaller limbs of their host. Each egg mass is about 1 inch long. Eggs overwinter and hatch in mid-March of the following year to start the cycle again. From each egg mass, several hundred tiny feeding machines emerge, and for four to six weeks they hungrily strip the trees of their leaves. The larvae are gregarious and upon hatching they gather in the forks of the limbs and develop the web that can be seen in the trees.  This serves as their home for the larvae. From this mass of silk, the developing larvae move outward to feed on developing leaves, but they return at night and during rainy weather. The nest gradually becomes larger and larger as silk accumulates. Although the nests are most commonly seen in the forks of wild cherries, this pest can be found in other ornamental, shade and fruit trees, especially apples. While not a serious pest in the natural forest, the unsightly web insect can reduce the beauty and esthetic value of shade trees and other hardwoods in the landscape.

About four to six weeks after hatching, full-grown larvae will crawl away from their nests and accumulate on the sides of homes, on driveways and sidewalks and on various woody ornamentals in search of sites to complete the next phase of life, the pupae phase.  This phase is a shell or cocoon in which the caterpillar matures into a moth. There is concern that they may be attacking other plants, but when they do leave their web, the larvae are finished with their feeding and will do no damage to plants on which they are found. The caterpillars are primarily a nuisance and do not usually pose a danger to the overall health of a larger, well-established tree as the tree can produce another flush of foliage.  However, young fruit and ornamental trees may be damaged, so it is a good idea to remove the web from these trees.

Usually, no chemical controls are necessary or very effective.  One reason is that the web is water proof and insecticides that are applied usually do not reach the larvae but you can break open the web and apply an insecticide such as carbaryl (Sevin), BT or a pyrethroid if you would like. If you decide to use an insecticide, please read the label and follow the instructions.  In addition, the egg masses can be clipped from the limbs in late June to prevent nests from developing the following spring.

For more information about the webs in trees right now, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Ask the Doc! With Dr. Raymond Tidman

Health

Today on Ask the Doc! we are welcoming Dr. Raymond Tidman, who will be filling in for Doctor William Whaley while he is on vacation. This Morning #BKP and Dr. Tidman discuss health concern and answer: 1. After my last regular exam, my doctor said the results showed cervical dysplasia. What does that mean? Is it cancer? 2. My allergies have caused my throat to feel inflamed and caused sinus drainage. I have seen a doctor but I am still dealing with a cough a week or so later. Is there anything I can do to help get rid of this cough? 3. Can too little sleep be a cause of weight gain? This segment is brought to you by Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital.

UNG gets state funds for new campus

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – In a recent interview on FYNTV, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston made an announcement regarding the University of North Georgia’s (UNG) Blue Ridge campus.

Ralston confirmed in the interview that the state has set $5.5 million into a line item to establish a new standalone “brick and mortar” building for the university. The budgeted funds are set for construction only, meaning that the university will be responsible for locating and acquiring a spot suitable for the new campus. Once the college purchases the location, they can utilize the state funds for their new building to expand into that new home in Fannin County.

As such, the location of this facility is yet to be determined. According to Campus Director of Blue Ridge for UNG, Sandy Ott, she hopes to begin construction as soon as possible. Ott spoke with FetchYourNews (FYN) about the fund allocation saying, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to expand the Blue Ridge campus. We are so excited for the opportunities for the students in our region. This is going to have an impact, truly.”

Ott noted some of the major capabilities that a standalone campus will allow including expanded course offerings, lab spaces for sciences and core classes, as well as development space to cater to the region’s specific needs. While college officials are still searching for the best location at this time, Ott confirmed that they are still very early in the process and uncertain if the new standalone campus will see them completely leaving their current location just off of 515 at 83 Dunbarton Farm Road.

UNG has been at that location since 2015, offering opportunities such as dual-enrollment courses for high school students, a full-time program for first-time freshmen, courses for adult learners getting started or returning to college, and continued education programs.

With the passing of the state’s budget, this is now set for UNG to utilize when available. Ott assures FYN they are moving quickly to take advantage of the funds to increase their services as soon as possible for students. See more by checking out the announcement at 14 minutes into FYNTV’s video below.

 

 

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Fetch Your News Interviews Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Georgia’s 2018 Gubernatorial Election

FYNTV, State & National

BKP Interviews Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp on Georgia’s 2018 Gubernatorial Election and important spotlighted information striking concern in rural Georgia.

FYN Interviews Rebbeca Yardley on Georgia’s 2018 Sine Die – Last Day of Legislative Session

Politics, State & National

It’s Sine Die day, that means it’s the last day of the 2018 Legislative Session! Interviews First Vice Chairman of Georgia Congress 9th District GOP Rebecca Yardley on the experience and what to expect from the Georgia Capitol today!

 

Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson accuses FetchYourNews.com of misleading the community

News, Politics

Dawson County Georgia Sheriff Jeff Johnson accused Fetch Your News of “implying that the requested additional yearly funds could have been used to fund a CAD System” on his Facebook Social Media page. He also explained in his post on social media to “Consider the Source”. We are interviewing the reporter who covered the story in this segment on FYNtv.com.

 

 

To read the full stories covered by our reporter, click the links below:

Headley: Sheriff’s budget increase close to $1 million

Sheriff’s lawsuit against the county heads to court

Sheriff vs. Dawson County heads to courtroom

What next in Sheriff Johnson vs. Dawson County?

Sheriff, county fail to reach budget agreement

Judge rules against sheriff’s lawsuit against county

Sheriff had nearly $400,000 left in his 2017 budget when he sued the Board of Commissioners

 

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