CEDAR RAPIDS — Lots of scary stuff out there in the world of gardening.
In addition to Emerald Ash Borer — now confirmed in 66 Iowa counties — and Japanese beetles, which have plagued Iowa since 1994, gardeners also have to contend with invaders such as the spotted wing drosophila, brown marmorated stink bug and even a jumping worm.
Donald Lewis, entomologist at Iowa State University, detailed all of those during one of many sessions at the Winter Gardening Fair, presented by ISU Extension & Outreach and Linn County Master Gardeners Feb. 16, 2019, at Kirkwood Community College.
Lewis called the spotted wing drosophila, a type of fruit fly, a “game changer” in the world of soft fruits, particularly fall-bearing raspberries. No viable control is available for the tiny insect, which infests berries and other fruits.
The same lack of management option is true for the jumping worm, which outcompetes other varieties of earthworms and makes the soil, particularly in woodlands, less capable of holding moisture.
And while the brown marmorated stink bug has wreaked havoc with apples and other crops elsewhere, so far, the invader is simply a household pest in Iowa.
It’s not all doom and gloom for Iowa gardeners. Linn County Master Gardener Devon Dietz enlightened his audience with the types of flowers gardeners can plant to feed caterpillars and adult butterflies.
Goldenrod and aster are among top choices for butterflies and milkweed is essential for the caterpillar stage of monarchs and another favorite for other varieties of adult butterflies as nectar.
Some participants at the annual event created handmade garden art and other projects while all of the hundreds of attendees learned best practices for Iowa gardens from the master gardeners and each other.
See photos from past Winter Gardening Fairs and more from the 2019 event, below: