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Tim Gibb talks about early spring pests
Jo Ellen Myers Sharp From Indystar.com March 16, 2012 Issue
Professor Timothy Gibb of Purdue University

Because the winter has been incredibly mild, many people are asking if there will be more insects this year.

Purdue University entomologist Tim Gibb said Indiana's 11th warmest winter probably didn't hurt or help insects.

Bugs have behavioral and physiological ways of buffeting the cold and usually are unaffected by winter temperatures mild or fierce, said Gibb in a posting at Purdue's Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory website.

However, when insects emerge from the winter is related to temperature, and people may see bugs earlier than normal when the season has been mild.

"In fact, we are already seeing the late winter emergence of many arthropods such as lady beetles, clover mites and crane flies that usually begin later in March," Gibb said.

Right now, clover mites are on the radar.

The mites congregate in newer lawns and migrate in fall and late winter. "Clover mites are small enough to squeeze through the tiniest of cracks and openings in buildings, making it nearly impossible to seal them out," Gibb said.

Although their presence can creep people out, clover mites are harmless to humans and pets; however, wiping them up often leaves brown-red smears that are difficult to clean.

Gibb recommends applying a double-sided tape around windowsills to help stop mites from gaining access. Once indoors, the mites quickly dehydrate and can be swept up with a vacuum cleaner.

Hoosiers will probably see more garden weeds. Mild temperatures prompt the germination of winter weeds, such as lamium (Lamium purpureum) and Persian speedwell (Veronica persica), which seem particularly rampant this spring.

Black medic (Medicago lupulina), a summer annual weed, has also appeared. Dandelions (Taraxcum), a perennial weed, never seem to go away.

Pull, hoe out or treat weeds as soon as you see them. If using a herbicide, read and follow the label directions so desired plants will not be harmed.

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