July 1, 1994
Black flies (buffalo gnats) are once again starting to make their presence felt across the state. While we always seem to have some black flies every year, the last two years have seen higher than normal populations.
Imagine a horror movie depicting a plant species that grows everywhere, consuming cars, buildings, and everything in its path. Although this is strictly science fiction, there are plants that are quite aggressive, taking over a garden, forest, or turfgrass areas in a short period of time. An example of this is the kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata). It was widely grown in the southeast United States as a fodder plant, to control erosion, and sometimes as an ornamental. Due to its rapid growth rate it has become a rampant weed. Fortunately, kudzu is not hardy in Iowa.
The common stalk borer is a slender, purple and white striped caterpillar that can be found tunneling inside the stems of a wide variety of plants. It is most commonly found inside the stalk of giant ragweed, but is of some importance as a pest of potatoes, tomatoes, corn and other plants. Samples and calls indicate the abundance of this pest is much greater than average this year.