Look to the “Web” for Help with Gardening or Bugs

San Antonio Express News
Sunday, August 31, 2003

By Nathan Riggs

Gardening, battling insects and caring for the lawn or landscape are just some of the outdoor pleasures the average home or landowner enjoys during the course of time. For most people, problems are usually dealt with via a visit to the local nursery or home improvement center, a call to the pest control operator or to the County Extension office. Today’s homeowner not only has face-to-face contact opportunities for information, but has a wealth of information available at their fingertips via the Internet. This week’s article from the Bexar County Extension office will give you a little bit of information to spark your interest in some of the websites available from Texas Cooperative Extension and Texas A&M University.

First, let’s look at a couple of horticulture-oriented websites: Aggie Horticulture and Aggie-Turf. Aggie-Horticulture (http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu) Is probably one of the most well-known websites at Texas A&M. It contains areas pertaining to wildflowers, gardening, Texas Superstar™ plants and perhaps the most popular area of all: PlantAnswers. The Texas Superstar™ section contains detailed information (including pictures) on 33 different flowering plants that are perfectly suited to Texas climate. Many of these special plants are sold in retail outlets and carry the Texas Superstar™ name. Examples of Texas Superstars™ include the New Gold™ Lantana, Laura Bush Petunia and many others. The most widely-used area of this website is PlantAnswers. PlantAnswers allows the web surfer to search for information on just about any horticultural or insect-related topic and will scour its thousands of archives to find helpful data. This site is definitely a destination for the web surfing gardener.

If you are a real stickler for manicured turfgrass, then the Aggie Turf website (http://aggie-turf.tamu.edu) may be your next mouse click destination. Aggie-Turf contains information on diagnosing turf diseases and insect problems as well as links to other helpful websites to provide additional information on your topic of interest.

From plants, we move to some websites devoted to information on insects. The entomology website at Texas A&M (http://insects.tamu.edu) forms the central hub of a myriad of resources on insects. Check out the link to Insects in the City™ for information on pests around homes and other news. If you like pictures of insects or have found an insect and need to match a picture, click on the link to Common Texas Insects (http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide). This contains images taken from the book, Field Guide to Common Texas Insects, (Drees and Jackman, Gulf Publishing, 1998). This site also contains ideas for lesson plans and other fun activities under the “Youth Education” section as well.

Another popular site belongs to the Texas Fire Ant Program (http://fireant.tamu.edu). This site has averaged better than 2 million hits per year since its inception in 1999. This site contains informative fact sheets about controlling fire ants in all situations and even a totally organic approach as well. A library of over one hundred images is available for browsing as well as a contact list of experts. Speaking of fire ants, next week (Sept. 7-13, 2003) is Fire Ant Awareness Week in Texas. Next Sunday’s article will be devoted to information centered on fire ant management and helpful hints for homeowners. Don’t miss it!

Nathan Riggs is a certified Entomologist and Extension Agent-IPM with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County. For more information call (210) 467-6575


Update on Local Suppliers for Citrus Trees by Lynn Rawe

Many phone calls have recently come into our office concerning the Sunday, July 27 article about patio citrus trees. People are interested in where they can be purchased in San Antonio. After several phone calls, I found citrus trees at Lowe’s, Millberger’s Nursery, Calloway Nurseries, Shades of Green Nursery, and Fanick’s Nursery. Home Depot should be receiving a new shipment in about one month. Many garden centers and nurseries will be receiving later shipments. Calling ahead before traveling to any of these businesses will save you time and frustration.

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