This is one of our stops along the way, Boothill in Deadwood SD
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Fess Parker - Ballad of Davy Crockett (1955)
Fess Parker 
 Ballad of Davy Crockett (1955)

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Now is the best time to control ticks for next spring

If you think back about last spring, it started early after a mild winter and the spring changed to a summer that was hot, humid and dry. Now fall is almost here and the weather continues to stay mild, so entomologists from across the nation are finding that the tick population is still building--and that could mean major problems for next year. Because it got so warm so early, the ticks came out of dormancy early and have had extra time to mature, mate, and prepare for the egg-laying season for next spring.

Right now, the adult ticks are still feeding in preparation for a long winter sleep to prepare for the egg laying in the spring. Because of the mild year, few ticks have died due to weather conditions, and populations have soared to record highs. Here is the life cycle of a tick and how it can affect you and your pets this fall and next spring.

Ticks have three primary stages of development: larval, nymphal, and adult. Each stage requires a special host to feed on to move on to the next stage of growth to complete the life cycle--and that life cycle takes one year to complete. In the spring when the adult emerges from its long winter of hibernation, each female tick is ready to lay up to 3000 eggs on the ground during the spring season--WOW! When the eggs hatch,small larvae will emerge and begin to feed on small mammals and birds for the spring and into early summer.

They then fall from the host to the ground and molt to the nymph stage. While still on the ground, they look for a new host like deer, cats, dogs and yes YOU. This is the most dangerous stage for disease transmitted problems like Lyme Disease. At this stage they are the size of a poppy seed and grow very quickly in size from the fresh blood source. This stage can last from several months to a year depending on the blood supply. When they have achieved maximum growth they then fall off and molt again but this time to the adult stage. Many ticks are in this stage now, feeding and preparing to lay eggs for next spring. The female is the most active, because she needs blood to help produce eggs while the male feeds very little and is content to stay on the large host primarily for mating with the female.

Ticks are in the spider family--Arachnids--and have eight legs, which have two uses. Motion is one but the additional use is as a unique sensory organ known as the "Haller's organ" which can detect odor and chemicals on the body of potential host. This organ can also sense changes in temperature to help the tick prepare for the season ahead. Ticks prefer a climate that is warm and humid, as they require a certain amount of moisture in the air in order to undergo the three stages of metamorphosis. Low temperatures will slow down the development from egg to larva and that is why we have a problem this fall. We had a mild winter last year and mild and early spring this year, and that is causing concern right now.

Ticks prefer a sandy soil, and hardwood trees like oaks, maples, ash, and birch. They also prefer areas with streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Their favorite large host is the deer, their favorite small hosts are mice and chipmunks--and if you live in an area with most of these necessities, you can expect to have tick problems.

There are several ways to reduce the population of ticks on your property--and fall and spring are the best time to do that. If you have property that is mostly grass, with some open fields or partially wooded, I would recommend that you treat the open areas with a product like Bayer Complete Insect Killer granules, Bonide Flea and Tick Granules and apply NOW so the rain can dissolve the product and activate the active ingredients to start killing the adults before they go into hibernation when the temperatures begin to cool off. All these products will also kill fleas when they are applied on your property, so they do not come into your home with your pets and get into your rugs and furniture.

In the spring, apply in early May to control ticks coming out of hibernation that you may miss this fall. These products should last for several weeks, killing the adults as they emerge when the weather warms up. If you have a fenced-in yard or small yard you can also use the ready-to-spray products that you apply with the garden hose, and they will also be very effective.

Now, if you want to control the problem without using a chemical application on your lawn. Natural Alternative organic mosquito, tick, and flea control  1-888-546-5941 or have it commercially done for you with Tick and Flea Ranger call them at 1-800-989-5444.

All these products work very well and if you have children, pets or you spend time in the garden you might want to think about doing something VERY soon to reduce the problem now and again in the spring. These products are an investment in the health of your family and pets.
The Lone Ranger Theme
The Lone Ranger Theme

It truly amazes me that insects know that the seasons are beginning to change and they know it's time to get inside your home for the winter where it will be nice and warm. If you own a cat or dog, this is the time of the year to get prepared for fleas to move in. Fleas are a real nuisance pest once they get a foothold in your home, and can be quite difficult to remove completely. If you're not sure if you have fleas in your home yet it's easy to tell, because they begin by biting your ankles as you sit on the couch watching TV. So do you have an itching sensation yet that is followed with scratching and the appearance of small swollen red bite marks? If yes, you have fleas and if not treated it will get worse for your pets and YOU.

Flea bites are more than annoying because that can cause allergies to your pets and you from their saliva, (spit). This often causes a rash to develop with a slightly raised swollen itchy spot like a mosquito bite. Unlike mosquitoes, you will have several bites on your body when they get active and if your pets are not treated, they will begin to scratch uncontrollably and begin to lose their hair. All this is from an insect less than 1/8 of an inch long. If you live where rodents are a common sight, even just a mouse, just remember that such problems as the Bubonic Plague passed between rodents and humans by fleas carrying the bacteria. So if you have pets like dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, mice or even raise chickens in your back yard, be prepared--and even your nice gray squirrel can leave them on your door step or deck to enter your home on your shoes or pool towels.

Fleas are difficult to see, so here is a quick description for you to remember if you feel something biting you or your pets. They are reddish-brown, wingless and are laterally compressed with all their legs on the front of the body and just behind the head, big body, and small head. They bite with piercing-sucking mouthparts through which they obtain blood from your body. Fleas can live a year or more if they can get blood regularly.

Fleas have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The flea life cycle cannot begin until the female has had blood to make her eggs fertile and when she begins to lay those eggs she will lay 20 plus to begin. The eggs are laid on the host and because they are round many fall off onto your floor, carpet or where your pet or you sleep. The eggs hatch in two day to two weeks and the larvae that emerges from the egg will feed on organic matter like feces, dead insects or even vegetable matter. When they are young they are blind and avoid sunlight, so they hide in bedding or cracks and crevices in carpeting or on the floor.

If they get enough food they will spin a silken cocoon in a week or two after they have had 3 larval stages and in another week or two emerge as an adult flea. Their main goal now is to find blood and reproduce. Now, they only have about a week to do so or they will die--so keeping the carpet and bedding clean is a real must-do. Once they get established in your home, this is what you can expect to find on your pet and furniture: 50% eggs, 35% larvae, 10% pupae, and only 5% adults. Fleas can live for a year or more if untreated, and each female flea can lay 5000 or more eggs during her lifetime--and that is why they multiply so quickly.

The best way to control fleas is to get them before they come into your home! Treat your pets with vet-recommended treatments on a regular basis, especially during the summer months, as fleas need humidity and warm temperatures over 70 degrees to multiply quickly. Once the outside temperatures fall below 70 degrees and the humidity dries out, the life cycle becomes interrupted. Also frequent vacuuming will help a lot to remove the adults that develop in carpeting and in cracks in flooring. Pet bedding should also be washed often to remove potential problems. When you vacuum your home for fleas, be sure to dispose of the bags outside of your home. If all fails you can use flea bombs once you remove your pets from the building and follow the recommendations on the label.

Outside control is your best bet, with a granular pesticide for fleas and ticks such as Bayer Complete Insect Control, or Bonide Flea And Tick Granules or organically with Natural Alternative organic mosquito tick and flea control. Apply right now to areas your pets frequent or, if your yard is fenced in, treat the entire area and the problem will be destroyed once the product is watered in or it rains out. Summer application in early July is the most effective as the temperature and humidity levels are at their prime to encourage quick flea development. But fall applications right now will be very effective to keep them out for the winter ahead. I have 4 small dogs and if I do not do this the fleas will take over the house and feed on me as well as the dogs.

Fess Parker - The Ballad of Daniel Boone
Fess Parker - The Ballad of Daniel Boone

This fall, your quality of life could be affected by a larger than normal infestation of the Asian lady beetles-- due to last winter being warmer than normal, with little snow cover! This is a nuisance pest; they do bite and can cause allergic reactions like sinus irritations and mild skin irritation from the yellow liquid they emit--and this is one reason we must control them. They will fly to your home by the hundreds in search of a nice warm place to live for the winter. Once they get into your home, you will find them crawling on your walls, on the ceiling, on your curtains and they will get into your lighting fixtures--and they'll love your attic that is filled with nice warm insulation to cuddle up in for the long winter hibernation. If that was not enough to drive you crazy, they will often emit a noxious yellow STAINING liquid before they die in your home. This information does not come from the writings of Alfred Hitchcock--but it would make a good story line.

Asian lady beetles are often confused with the very beneficial ladybug that many of us purchase in the spring time to release in our gardens to eat such insects as aphids, mealy bugs, white fly, spider mites, scale and more. The beneficial ladybug will eat hundreds of insects and their eggs every day; they make the perfect predator insect for those of us who want to garden organically. They are friendly insects: they do not bite and do not emit a yellow staining liquid. These are keepers, and every garden needs to have them to control insect problems.

Like the friendly ladybug, they too eat other insects and are beneficial predators that eat aphids, scale, white fly and other destructive insects of the garden and landscape. Their main problem is they want to live in your home for the winter and cannot survive outside during the winter. They also multiply much faster than the common ladybug and can quickly overwhelm your home in the fall as the evening temperatures begin to get cold.

Why is this insect such a problem and why are they so many of them at this time of the year on and in your home? From what I have found out, it is all thanks to science and the US government. This Asian beetle was released by the United States Department of Agriculture to control insects on pecans and apples. Large numbers of these beetles were released in Georgia, South Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi, California, Washington, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maryland. They assumed that the beetles would not establish themselves due to our cold winters. They were wrong and now we have a problem. Remember that "assume" means it could make an ASS out of you and me--RIGHT, Department of Agriculture?

The Asian lady beetle is also called the multicolored Asian beetle, the Japanese ladybug, Asian lady beetle, the Harlequin ladybird because its color will range from yellow to orange and even red-and it's sometimes even called the Halloween lady beetle because it invades homes in the fall of the year.

The adult insects are 3/8 of an inch long and wide, they are oval in shape with a hard shell that covers their wings--and yes, they can fly and they do. Some of the beetles have no spots, and their spots can range from none to as many as nineteen--but most do have nineteen spots on their shell. The head is partially hidden by the shell and is creamy to yellow in color with a distinct black "M" design in the center of the head. The common ladybug does not have this marking. The common ladybug has 4 to 6 spots on its back and light to medium orange in color.

This creature has four life stages: adult, egg, larva, pupa, and then back to adult. They are very aggressive in nature while the ladybug is very passive. You can easily handle ladybugs without any problems or noxious yellow liquid. The Asian lady beetle larva resembles a caterpillar and is black and yellow in color, often elongated and flattened with minute spines on its body. The eggs come in clusters of 20 or more, yellow in color and hang upright.

The only good thing about these insects is that they will eat from 100 to 300 aphids per day; they are voracious predators who feed on everything from agriculture crops to ornamental plants, keeping them clean of insects. The larvae can eat 60 to 1200 aphids during their lifetimes, so both life stages are beneficial--but it's their numbers that are the problem, along with their biting and our allergic reactions.

These creatures are attracted to light and heat during the fall season. They will be numerous around outdoor lights and porch lights--and once they find a crack, hole or any type of opening like vents, soffits, open doors and windows, they enter your home for the winter. They tend to collect in masses on the south and southwest side of your home because of the heat that collects on the siding of your home.

How to control outside has been a problem up to now, but with the new Bonide product called "Beetle Killer" with the built in spray attachment that will spray up to 20 feet high, these beetles can easily be destroyed this fall. Just spray the house, around the windows and doors and they will not swarm on to your home as in past years. One application will last for three to five weeks, depending on the weather and the product will decompose with rain and warm sunny days so not to cause harm to your plants or other beneficial insects. It is also non-staining to paint or stain used on your home. For small areas, use the new "Screen and Surface" spray from Lynwood Labs; it will do the same job and also works fantastically to keep no-see-ems from coming through screens at this time of the year.

Inside the house, the best way to get rid of them is to use your vacuum cleaner and suck them off the walls, ceiling and drapes. Dispose of the bags in the trash when the season is over and that way you will not have to use pesticides in your home to control them. Whatever you do, do not use a newspaper to swat them from the wall or ceiling or the squished insect will leave a nice yellow stain that will not wash off with soap and water; only repainting will do.

So, this fall prepare for the Invasion of the Asian Lady Beetles, just another pest that got here from Japan and has no predators to control its expansion in numbers--it's up to you and me to control this pest that could drive you crazy in your home this fall.
                                                   Stink Bug

As gardeners, many of you are familiar with the Japanese beetle and all the problems it has brought us but now another insect pest native to China, Korea, Taiwan and, yes, Japan, has begun to cause problems here in the United States. The insect is called the "brown marmorated stink bug," and like the Japanese beetle, it was accidentally introduced into the country from Japan. Entomologists believe it was a "hitchhiker" or "stowaway" in packaging material placed around furniture or pottery in crates for shipping. It was first spotted in Allentown, Pennsylvania in September 1998. In early 2000, it was caught in a trap in Milford, New Jersey by the Rutgers University and by 2002 it was found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, and Connecticut. By 2009 it had spread to 7 more states, south to Tennessee and west to Oregon. In 2010, 3 more states: Indiana, Michigan, and Minnesota. Today, in just 18 years, it has spread to 38 states, including all of the New England states, and is still spreading.

So let me tell you what this creature looks like so you will know what to look for, in case you have not accidentally killed one in or on you home and have smelled the odor it creates. The stink bug is almost 3/4 of an inch long and about as wide. The body of this insect in in the shape of a shield, with a flat top where the head is found and with sides that run parallel down to a rounded bottom. The body is colored with various shades of brown on both the top and underside of its body. To help make it stand out it also has markings of gray, white, black, and copper on its body. Noticeable small white rectangular marks are found on the outer edge of its abdomen--usually 4 on each side--and a dark gray to black diamond mark on its top rear abdomen. It has a pair of long antennae coming off its head that have alternating bands of light and dark gray coloring to them.

The stink bug has 6 legs that are brown with a bit of white striping on them. The back pair of legs is larger than the front two pairs of legs and they are almost grasshopper-like in shape. The stink bug has "stink glands" on the underside of his head, between the first and second pair of legs and also on top of his abdomen. If the insect is threatened, hurt or crushed, the smell is released and will be smelled 6 to 10 feet away from the insect--and it will last for several minutes. My wife said it smelled worse than when my feet are in sneakers for several days at a time--and I agree!! The ability to release this odor is a defense mechanism meant to prevent it from being eaten by birds or other predators. So if you try to pick it up, try to move it or try to kill it, the odor is released as self-defense.

Stink bugs feed on fruit and vegetable crops outside from May to September and they love all types of fruit trees, raspberries, and many types of vegetables. The insects feed on the plant by sucking on the fruit or vegetable, forming a dimple on it and sometimes causing necrosis on the outer surface of the fruit, spreading disease from plant to plant. The damage to plants is not yet a real problem if your garden is treated with general pesticides on a regular basis. For most of us we seldom see them in the garden--YET--but in time, their numbers will grow and they will become a major pest of our garden, fruit trees and berry plants.

For now, the brown marmorated stink bug is more of a fall problem insect that is trying to get into our home for the winter months where it's warm. These insects can survive the winter if they can get inside your home for the winter months; they will die with the cold winter weather if they stay outside. As the weather begins to cool off at night during September, they will begin to try to enter your home through openings in the siding, and holes in the soffit vents on your roof that help to ventilate the heat out during the summer months and make your house breathe. The will enter any openings around windows and doors; if there is a opening around your screens they will get under them on a nice day. Once they get into your home, they will hibernate and wait for winter to pass. If the house is warm, they can stay active all winter; they are usually found around lighting fixtures. They do no damage to the house, but when spring returns they will move out and begin to mate and repopulate your yard and feed on your plants again.

Right now, they are just a big ugly insect that crawls on your windows, doors, and side of the house. They prefer the sunny side of the house where it is warm and when they see an opening they will go into your home. Stink bugs are HARMLESS to people, they do not bite or sting and they do not transmit disease, but the problem is how quickly they are multiplying and spreading across the country. If this continues our agricultural crops will be in danger and so will our ornamental shrubs and trees. This insect, the stink bug, spreads from place to place on campers, trailers, building materials, and becomes airborne with strong storms and moves with the wind.

In your home, the best way to control them is to fill in all holes and cracks around doors and windows. Keep window screens tightly closed, screen doors adjusted so the bottom touches the threshold of the door opening--and if you have a garage that is attached to the house, keep the doors closed. Once they in the house, if you want to avoid the smell, use your vacuum cleaner to remove them from walls and ceilings and dispose of the bag with your trash.

Outside prevention works very well, and it will do a great job to kill them while they move on your home. Spray around your windows, doors and on the entire south side of the house with a product called "Beetle Killer" made by Bonide Lawn and Garden. The product comes in a built in hose-end applicator that will spray up to 20 feet high. The product will not stain the paint on your house. The active ingredients will stay effective for 3 to 5 weeks, depending on the weather. All the stink bug has to do is walk on the side of the house or around the doors and windows and the product will control him. If you start to see them in numbers on the house reapply, as the rain and sun have destroyed the product, making it ineffective. For small areas you can also use "Screen and Surface" aerosol spray from Linwood labs with the same results.

Inside the house, you can use the new stink bug traps from Bonide lawn and garden for your attic where most of them hide for the winter; the trap has a dual action pheromone lure to attract and capture them. It can also be used outside and it will last for four weeks if you do not want to use sprays. If numbers of insects are high, sprays are more effective.

Now you know all about the problem and how to control it, so get ready to fight back against the Invasion of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Look out your window, they are there and waiting for you!

"To get the best results, you must talk to your vegetables."
Prince Chrarles



Tomato-Summer or Zucchini Squash Casserole with Mozzarella Cheese

As the gardening season begins to come to an end, let's take advantage of the remaining Summer or Zucchini squash in our garden as long as it continues to be productive. This is a wonderful vegetable dish your family and friend will love and when your garden in finished, you can use squash from the grocery store from southern states to recreate this recipe. Use either Summer or Zucchini squash but don't mix the two varieties.

3- 10 to 12-inch squash, peeled
1 tablespoon of salt
½ cup of general purpose white flour
1 cup of olive oil or even better Truffle oil
¾ Pound of thinly sliced Mozzarella cheese
3 medium size red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
6 of the biggest or 10 medium RIPE tomatoes, peeled, and coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh Basil
1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon of white sugar
¼ teaspoon of Allspice
1/3 cup of fresh grated or packaged Parmesan cheese

1} Peel and cut your squash into ½ inch slices. Place on paper towels and sprinkle with salt and let stand for about 15 minutes. Blot the moisture on the squash to remove excess moisture. Dust lightly both sides of the squash with your flour and sauté in ¾ cup of oil until both sides are golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

2} Cover the bottom of your casserole dish with a layer of squash slices. Next cover the squash with your slices of Mozzarella cheese and then another layer of squash and cheese, leaving gaps between the slices of cheese so the tomato mixture can penetrate the layers.

3] Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill a medium pot half full of water and bring to a boil. Drop in your tomatoes and when they begin to crack their skin, remove from the hot water, and place in cold water to stop the cooking and peel. Coarsely chop and put to one side. 

4}Heat the remaining oil in a fry pan and sauté the thinly slices onion rings until transparent. Add your tomatoes, basil, thyme, sugar, and allspice and cook over medium heat until slightly thickened. Ladle the tomato mixture over the squash and top with Parmesan cheese, and bake, covered for 25 minutes so all the flavors blend together. Remove the cover and brown under the broiler for a couple of minutes. Serve hot and add a bit more parmesan cheese if you like, and have your family salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8 people. Enjoy!
Days to look forward 

Saturday, September 17-National Eat an Apple / Apple Dumpling Day
Monday, September 26 - Johnny Appleseed Day
Wednesday, September 28 - National Good Neighbor Day

Keep records will make you a better gardener!!


Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95! 

special!        Supplies are now limited!


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