March 17, 1995

Boxelder Bug

The boxelder bug is a common and well-known insect in Iowa that has been particularly abundant in the past two years. During the summer months, boxelder bugs live, feed and reproduce on trees (including boxelders, maples, ash and other shade trees) and shrubs. They feed on sap from their host plants but do not cause significant damage. Boxelder bugs become nuisance pests in the fall when they leave the plants to find hiding places for the winter. During their random search, they will congregate in the sunshine on the south sides of buildings, trees and rocks.

Growing Currants and Gooseberries in the Home Garden

Currants and gooseberries (Ribes species) are berry- producing shrubs which have been grown in the United States since colonial times. (The 3 types of currants are red, white, and black. American and European are the 2 types of gooseberries.) Plants are hardy, easy to grow, and their fruit make excellent jams, jellies, preserves, and pies. Currants and gooseberries are also attractive shrubs that fit well into the home landscape. Despite these attributes, currants and gooseberries are not widely grown today.


Onions are part of the lily family, Amaryllidaceae, and belong to the genus Allium. Alliums have bulbous, onion-scented roots. Garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks also belong to this genus as do the ornamental alliums grown for their purple flowers. The common garden onions are termed Allium cepa by botanists. Allium meaning garlic and cepa meaning onion in Latin.

Planting Potatoes in the Home Garden

One of the most popular vegetables in the home garden is the "Irish" potato. A native of South America, the potato didn't become an important food crop until it was introduced to Ireland in the sixteenth century.

Potatoes prefer loose, fertile, slightly acid soils. Don't apply large amounts of organic matter, such as manure, to the soil where potatoes are to be grown. The addition of organic matter may increase the occurrence of potato scab.