Of the many remedies offered, a fence of i-inch mesh wire, extending 6 inches into the ground and at least 2 feet above, is still
the best protection. Lacking a fence a repellent sold as No-Nib'l seems
to be rather satisfactory when sprayed on garden plants. Trunks of fruit
trees can be protected in winter by surrounding them with 1/4-inch mesh
Ground squirrels, found in the West, are killed by poison bait.
Chipmunks are partial to bulbs. Planting them in wire baskets
sometimes keeps rodents away. Gardeners have also used napthalene
flakes in the soil, but the fumes sometimes injure the bulbs more than
they repel the rodents. Gray squirrels are extremely fond of corn, and
you have to plant an extra row or two for them in order to have enough
burrow in gardens and feed on vegetation near their burrows. They can be gassed by a special cartridge, developed by the
United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to be placed at the mouth of a
den and lighted.
Mealybugs are soft-bodied relatives of scale insects, members of the
order Homoptera. They are small, flat, oval, covered with a white powdery wax that extends in filaments all around the body to give a crenulated effect. Short-tailed mealybugs have all filaments of equal length;
long-tailed mealybugs have long threads at the posterior end of the body.
Most mealybugs are greenhouse or southern problems; a few are serious
outdoors on northern trees and shrubs.
The various species have similar life histories. The female deposits 300
to 600 eggs in a compact waxy
sac beneath the rear end of her
body, the general effect being of
a fluff of cotton. The eggs hatch
into pale-yellow, six-legged crawlers, with smooth bodies, which
suck like aphids. As they feed,
their bodies become covered with
the wax which radiates out into
36 projections. After this mealybugs move very sluggishly, but they are
not quite anchored to one spot as are female scales. They usually cluster
at axils of leaves or at branch crotches. The male changes to a 2-winged
fly before mating, then dies. In warm climates the life cycle is completed
in a month, and there are several generations. Mealybugs secrete copious
honeydew so that plants are often covered with black sooty mold growing in the sweet secretion.
The time-honored method of controlling a few mealybugs on house
plants is to wrap a bit of cotton around the end of a toothpick, dip it in
alcohol-you can use cologne or nail-polish remover-and touch it to the
insect. Summer oil sprays such as Volck are used for more serious infestations. DDT kills some of the parasites and so may increase rather than
decrease mealybug populations. Parathion and TEPP bombs take care of
mealybugs in greenhouses; the less poisonous phosphate, Malathon, can
be used by home gardeners.