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Pest Invasion While Away on Vacation.
by Kathy Gardener

My husband and I just completed what we're calling Mountain Tour 08, a week-long sightseeing adventure through the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.  It was refreshing to get away, and we loved seeing all the beautiful mountain scenery and cooler temperatures.  The rhododendron were at peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it was quite a sight to behold.  We also spotted two wild turkey families in Cades Cove, and an adult bear sitting on a limb overlooking the roadway through Cades Cove.  So we had fun.

I got back to my gardening here in Irmo South Carolina on Friday.  I was excited to see that the zinnias from seed were about to start blooming, and that a group of petunias had finally got their second round of blooms and were full and gorgeous.  The lobelia have finally opened.  These were second-year plants and don't seem to have gotten as tall as last year. But much to my dismay, a large potted zinnias I had bought and put in a few days before we left on the trip was in bad shape.  The leaves are totally eaten up by some unknown pest.  The flowers are okay but I don't think these plants will do well with no or little leaves.

I only had one day to admire those petunias because yesterday I saw that some doggone bright green caterpillars had dined on the petals for breakfast and lunch and the flowers were all full of holes.  I killed the three varmints I could see, then drove down to Lowes and Woodleys and Walmart, in pursuit of a poison that would kill caterpillars but not be a danger to my dear hummingbirds visiting the pentas and lobelia.  No such poison found.  Anyone have a suggestion? 

A nice breeze blows outside today.  Temps in 90's.

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