Cicada Killer

What’s Black and Yellow and Flies All Over?

There is an insect in town that has everyone buzzing!  This insect is black and yellow and can be up to 1 ½ inches long, and it flies.  Can you guess what it is?

You might be thinking about the Murder Hornet, or Asian Giant Hornet, that has been making the news for the last few months.  Fortunately for us, the Asian Giant Hornet has not been found in Texas!  But we do have a black and yellow wasp that is making the rounds in July and August, the Cicada Killer.


Mystery Seeds Arrive in Texas

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urges anyone who receives an unsolicited package of seeds to mail those seeds to the location listed below for your state. If more than one location is listed for your state, please select the location closest to your residence.

Instructions for Mailing Seed Packets:

  • Place the unopened seed packet and any packaging, including the mailing label, in a mailing envelope. If the seed packets are open, first place the seeds and their packaging into a zip-lock bag, seal it, and then place everything into a mailing envelope.
  • Please include your name, address, and phone number so that a State or Federal agriculture official can contact you for additional information, if needed.
  • In some cases, you may also submit your information online. Instructions are provided below if that is an option in your state.

If you are unable to mail the package to one of the locations below, please contact your APHIS State plant health director to arrange a no-contact pick up or to determine a convenient drop-off location.


Texas Choose the closest location:


Attn: Elias Gonzalez

100 Los Indios Blvd.

Los Indios, Texas 78567


Attn: Gerardo Gonzalez

120 San Francisco, Bridge II Complex

Building 5, Room 505

Laredo, Texas 78045


Houston PIS

Attn: Alejandro Gammon Officer in Charge

19581 Lee Road

Humble, TX, 77338


Dallas Ft Worth Work Unit 75261

Attn: Janet Ussery, Officer in Charge

P.O. Box 610063.

Dallas, Texas 75261


Attn: Harald Grieb

3600 E. Paisano Dr.

Room 147-1

El Paso, TX 79905




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Sometimes the things we find in nature can be so much fun!  For example, have you ever heard of an Elm finger gall?  It looks like little green fingers coming out of the leaf.  Or how about gouty oak gall that causes round galls on oak twigs?

Finding several round galls on your oak twigs or even fuzzy balls on the backs of oak leaves can be disconcerting!  It looks like the tree is growing strange things, and something terrible must be happening.


Tree Health – Oak Leaf Blister

Texans are very proud of our oak trees.  During the heat of July and August, underneath the shade of a large live oak tree is a great place to be!


Lamb’s Ear

As a horticulturalist, I tend to be easily distracted by plants.  When I am out walking, I make frequent pitstops to check out a neat plant.  Or when I am driving down the road, I have to resist stopping to check out different trees.  It is a real problem!

One plant that I can never resist pausing for is Lamb’s ear!  Those soft, velvety leaves are just too hard to resist.  I have some in my flower beds, and I stop to pet it frequently.  I am sure that is why it is growing so well! (more…)

Green Anole

Gardening is one of those hobbies where you never stop learning. Being around plants leads to learning about soil, weather, water, bugs, and even creepy crawling things. I did get to see a neat creepy crawling thing in my yard this morning, a Green Anole!


Asian giant hornets

What headline can draw people away from their thoughts dwelling on the current state of the world and Coronavirus? That would be MURDER HORNETS! I cannot think of a more sensationalized headline, so kudos to whomever came up with that attention grabber. This headline is popping up everywhere from social media outlets, television, newspapers, and others. Quite frankly, it makes me cringe each time I see it.

Asian giant hornets (AGH) are Vespa mandarinia NOT “murder” hornets. If you want to use a common name instead of the scientific name, then call them by the CORRECT common name of Asian giant hornet. Asian giant hornets are large, around 2 inches in length, with an orangish head, brown antennae (the base of the antennae are yellow-orange), brown to black eyes and ocelli (simple eyes located between the compound eyes). The thorax is dark brown with greyish wings and the abdomen has alternating bands of brownish-black and yellow-orange.


Controlling Nutsedge

I purchased a home in Georgetown earlier this year, and I must admit that I have a new source of inspiration for news articles. It was one thing to write about weed control when I was sitting by the pool at an apartment complex, but I have a newfound passion for weed control when I spend my evenings pulling up weeds in my front yard.

The weed giving me the most trouble right now is nutsedge. I know I am not alone in this because most gardeners groan in sympathy when they hear the word nutsedge. Sedges and kyllinga are tricky weeds because they look like grass. Sedges (Cyperus spp.) and kyllingas (Kyllinga spp.) belong to the sedge family. They have an interesting triangular shaped stem and three-ranked leaves. They also lack collars, hairs, ligules, and auricles that are features of grasses.



A few weeks ago, I planted some pretty purple petunias in my front flower bed. In just a few days, my petunias had been stripped of their leaves. What was the culprit? Snails!

Snails and slugs are mollusks that feed on foliage and fruit of plants. They can be destructive to tender, young seedlings like my petunias or new vegetable transplants.


Take All Root Rot

This year it feels like spring bloomed all the sudden! I don’t know about you, but I’m really enjoying the greenery and wildflowers! I hope you have opportunity to take walks around your neighborhood to see the flowers blooming and trees stretching their limbs with new growth.

The cool temperatures and wet weather of spring can lead to a few turfgrass issues. One fungus that likes to show up in the spring is gaeumannomyces graminis var. garminis. This fungus causes Take-all root rot, a fungal disease that causes weak, dead patches in turfgrass. St. Augustine grass is most affected by take-all root rot, but it can also affect bermudagrass and Zoysia grass.