One day you come outside and notice the oak tree in your yard has white webbing covering most of its trunk and some branches. Your first reaction is, "What is this on my tree and how do I get rid of it?" Well most people would have that reaction, but the good news is it is an overreaction. What you are seeing is the protective webbing of psocids, commonly referred to as bark lice. Believe it or not, this is a good thing.
Bark Lice, aka Tree Cattle
Bark lice show up on trees during the summer and early part of fall. Tree cattle eat algae, mold, fungi, lichen and dead insects that are in and on your tree's exterior. Most of these food sources are plentiful when given heat and excessive humidity which is why southern Louisiana is home to large invasions of psocids. They typically feed on hard wood trees and palms. I personally believe their tree of choice is an oak tree since it is what I have seen bark lice on the most. The good news is bark lice does not do any damage to the tree. By eating these foreign objects on the hard wood trees and palms, they are actually cleaning the tree. Be sure to thank them.
How to Get Rid of Bark Lice
Bark lice will go away on their own. After they have gone, the bark lice webbing will dissolve over the next few weeks. If you just can't stand the sight of the webbing in your tree, a soapy water solution may encourage them to move along. Mix three tablespoons of dish soap per gallon of water and apply it to the infested area. If this does not work, you will have to learn to live with the tree cattle until they move on to their next tree.
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During the few cold winter months we have, we usually rush to get from warm building to warm car without even thinking about the landscaping. Its not as if we aren't interested in the exteriors of our homes and offices this time of year. The time, effort and expense of Christmas decorations every year are a testament to it. The added color brings with it a bit of happiness to both you and others. With a little knowledge and landscaping, you can bring a smile to the faces of those who visit your home all winter long, year after year.
Camellias are a staple of a traditional landscape in south Louisiana. They provide excellent color in the winter and are generally an attractive looking shrub all year. They come in different heights and flowering periods, though they all flower in the winter. Camellia sasanqua and Camellia japonica are sure fire bets for great performing plants.
These Bottlebrush shrubs can give your home both some added color and a slightly exotic feel as the flowers are unique in this area. They are easy to maintain and can be planted in a hedge row or by they selves. There are also varieties of Bottlebrush trees that could really stand out in your landscaping.
Pyracantha is usually planted along a structure and climbs up it. They produce the red berries shown above to provide an accent of color to your home. Sometimes described a climbing holly, they can be a great addition to a barren exterior wall or fence of your home.
There are more varieties of roses than I can keep up with. Your best bet is to go to your local nursery and ask the horticulturist which variety is best for both the area you intend to plant the shrub, the care you are able to give the it and the time of year you want it to bloom.
Loropetalums have both colorful foliage and a flowering period. Many people keep these plants pruned to the size of a small shrub which is unfortunate. These plants naturally expand and should be planted to grow more like a small tree than a shrub. This will allow the plant to really show off its color and you won't be driven mad by all the extra pruning you would have to do otherwise.
Holly bushes produce showy red berries. They are usually a sign that the holidays are near. Holly bushes are hardy plants that are fairly easy to maintain. They require pruning only a few times a year and any pest they attract are easy to both identify and get remove.
Most varieties of Azaleas bloom in late winter or early spring. They usually flower all at once in a large display of color. Generally their blooms are pink, red or white. There are varieties, such as the encore, that bloom throughout the year, although their number of blooms aren't as full. Azaleas are some of the easiest plants to grow and maintain in south Louisiana.
What Flowers to Plant for Fall and Winter?
I get this question this time of year, every year, since I've been in the landscaping industry. Most people do not seem to think there are many choices for what they can use to liven up their home for the winter months. As you can see below, that assumption is a far cry from reality. The plants listed below should perform well in Southern Louisiana from late fall through early spring. These flowers are a great way to transform your home's exterior into an warm and inviting place for family and friends during the upcoming holidays.
Cool Season Flowers
Low growing flowers, about six inches tallPetunia, Pansy, Cabbage, Cyclamen, Kale, Alyssum, Dwarf Snapdragon, Phlox, Primrose
Medium Height Flowers, about one foot
Snapdragon, Dianthus, California Poppy, Bluebonnet, Dusty Miller, Candytuft, Dwarf Nicotiana
Tall varieties of Snapdragon, Sage, Delphinium, Sweet Peas, Larkspur, Hollyhock, Statice, Toadflax