ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers.
Q Tiny ants are coming into my greenhouse, and I find them getting in the boxes of seedlings, where they are making tunnels which dry out the plants' roots. I do not want to use high-powered pesticides and wonder if there is a safer method to dispose of them. They appear to be coming in under the foundation. S. L. Reading, Pa. An easy method of disposal is to sprinkle common household borax along the foundation, both indoors and out. Q I noticed three deep holes next to a cement wall that I need to work around. Thinking they were made by mice, I placed some mothballs in each and to my amazement a parade of yellow jackets came zooming forth. Not wanting to destroy them because of their value for pollination, I am looking for some humane method of removing them or persuading them to move to other quarters. R. J. P. Bourne, Mass.
Yellow jackets are wasps with yellow and black stripes. They live underground in brownish paper nests made from partially decayed wood. Although they occasionally feed on nectar, they prefer fruit juices and insects. They are very beneficial as natural predators, chewing up flies and other insects to feed their larvae in the combs.
You have already used one of the recommended methods of persuading them to leave the present quarters. If they refuse to leave, you may have to use Diazinon, sprayed directly into the holes after dark, when they have gone back in and become lethargic.
Yellow jackets are often attracted to hair spray and perfume and will hover around or light upon someone who is wearing either of them. Q We have three sweet cherry trees, all guaranteed to pollinate each other. They have bloomed profusely for two years, during fair weather, but we've gotten only a smattering of cherries. This year again they produced a few green fruits. We observed a few very small bees on the blooms, but hardly any honeybees. Could this be the reason for nonfruiting? Why would there be so few bees?
In many places the scarcity of bees for pollination purposes is critical. Pesticides such as Sevin are devastating to bees. Also, there is a predator mite that is doing much damage to the bee population in some areas. Prolonged cold during winter can harm colonies of bees. Commercial fruit growers rent hives of bees to ensure good pollination of their crops. They also make sure all dandelions are mowed down so the bees (which prefer dandelions) work on the blooms they are assigned to. A. L. Y. Royal Oaks, Mich.
If you have a question about your garden, inside or out, send it, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway Street, Boston, Mass. 02115.