April 6, 1994

Larder Beetles are Active in the Spring

One of the most recognizable household pests is the larder beetle. Both the adults and larvae have characteristic features that readily distinguish them from other insects.

This insect is very common and widespread and is a frequent pest in homes. The insect's name comes from it's presence in dried, cured meats stored at room temperature prior to refrigeration. Today, larder beetles may be a pest in stored foods but are more likely to be only an annoyance because of their presence in the house.


Producing a successful lettuce crop can be a challenge for home gardeners. Weather is the main problem. All types of lettuce (crisphead, butterhead, leaf or bunching, and romaine or cos) require cool, moist growing conditions. Daytime temperatures of 70 to 75 and nighttime temperatures of 55 to 60 are ideal. Adequate supplies of moisture and nutrients are also important. Lettuce requires one inch of water per week. As with other plants, gardeners will need to water when Mother Nature doesn't supply sufficient rainfall.

Houseplant Insect Pests

Several species of scale insects, mealybugs and whiteflies are commonly found on plants in the home or greenhouse. All are sap-feeding insects that can weaken plants and cause poor, stunted growth. Death of infested plants occurs only in severe cases.

Houseplant insects may create an annoyance caused by large quantities of a sweet, sticky liquid waste product called honeydew that is excreted as the insects feed. Honeydew can make a sticky, shiny mess on the plant and nearby furniture and floors. A black fungus called sooty mold may grow on the honeydew.

Planting Strawberries in the Home Garden

April is an excellent time to plant strawberries in Iowa. They are easy to grow and produce a good crop with reasonable care. There are basically 3 types of strawberries. June-bearers are the most widely planted type of strawberry. They produce one crop per year, the majority of fruit ripening in June. The second type of strawberry is the everbearing strawberry. Everbearing varieties typically produce a spring and fall crop with little flowering or fruiting in the summer months. The day-neutral varieties are the third and newest type of strawberry.

How To Change Your Soil's pH

Have you ever tried to grow blueberries or azaleas only to have them turn yellow, then brown and eventually die? If you have, chances are you planted them in an alkaline soil.

Ground Ivy

Ground ivy was one of the few plants that had ideal growing conditions in 1993. Needless to say, homeowners are trying to eliminate it this spring. Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is an aggressive, low-growing, perennial invader of lawns, vegetable gardens, and flower beds. It thrives in moist, shady areas, as well as sunny locations. The scalloped leaves are round or kidney-shaped and are attached by petioles to square stems. Ground ivy roots at each joint whenever it touches the soil, thus making it difficult to hand pull.

Lettuce Varieties

Lettuce offers 4 main types from which to choose; crisphead, butterhead, romaine, and leaf. Numerous varieties of each type are available. The type of lettuce you choose to grow depends upon your growing season as well as your taste preferences.