Author Archives: Mary

Have You Seen This Bug? Look Out for Kudzu Bugs and Report Sightings

Cooperative Extension in Arlington is participating in a statewide survey to determine the presence of Kudzu Bugs in Northern Virginia.  Traps will be installed in suitable garden sites to try to detect their presence. If you see this insect at your home or elsewhere please report it to the Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension Horticulture Help Desk at 703 228 6414 or email to  And if you have further questions, please contact Kirsten Buhls, Arlington’s Agriculture and Natural Resources agent,, 703 228 6423.

Glencarlyn Library Demonstration Garden in Arlington is part of statewide research being conducted by Virginia Tech that seeks to track the spread of the invasive Kudzu Bug into Northern Virginia.  For the next 6-8 weeks VCE Master Gardeners will be checking a white bug trap in the library garden to see if we find this bug here in Arlington.


Click on the link for full identification details of the Kudzu Bug and see photos.


Oblong, olive green adult Megacopta cribraria aka the Kudzu Bug are 4 to 6 mm long   Photo

Kudzu Bug Distribution in Virginia Aug 9 2013                             

Background to Kudzu Bugs
In October 2009, large aggregations of Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria (F.); Heteroptera: Plataspidae), also known as bean plataspid, lablab bug, or globular stink bug, were discovered on the exterior of houses in nine northeast Georgia counties.


Also see these two 3-minute videos about Kudzu Bugs in Spanish
or in English

By 2010,  Kudzu Bug was confirmed in more than 60 Georgia counties.  This insect that is native to Asia feeds on kudzu, wisteria, and other members of the bean family.  It has become a serious pest of soybean crop fields as far north as 21 counties in Virginia and 3 southern Maryland counties.

Megacopta cribraria is related to the brown marmorated stink bug.  Adult Kudzu Bugs are 4 to 6 mm long, oblong, olive-green colored with brown speckles, and produce a mildly offensive odor when disturbed.
In its native Asia, one of M. cribraria’s preferred hosts is kudzu, an invasive vine introduced into the U.S. more than 100 years ago.  While the good news is that the invasive vine Kudzu appears to be a primary host in North America, M. cribraria is expected to spread into most areas where kudzu is established.   The bigger concern is that this insect will become another nuisance pest. Similar to behavior of brown marmorated stink bugs, kudzu bugs seek secluded sites like the inside of your home as temperatures fall and daylengths shorten in the fall.  They overwinter as adults and emerge in the spring, as temperatures increase,

Control of M. cribraria consists of the following:

Exclusion: place screening over any possible entries into house and ensure that they are tight and well seated, without holes. Be sure to screen soffit, ridge and gable vents. Stuff steel wool into pipe entry points and make sure that all doors are tight fitting.   Kudzu bugs on a window frame. Photo courtesy

Insecticide: The insects congregate on sunny south facing outdoor walls in the fall and insecticide applications can be made to stop this.   Consult with a certified pesticide applicator who has the equipment needed for broadside applications of nuisance insect control products. Repeat applications may be needed but microencapsulated and wettable powder formulations will last longer. Indoor pesticide applications for M. cribraria are not recommended.

Mechanical:  Vacuum and bag insects, gather them and place in hot soapy water, avoid crushing them as long lasting odors and staining of surfaces may result.

Biological:  Encourage natural predators by planting a wide variety of plants.  Assassin bugs are known to feed on M. cribraria, and other native predators may emerge.  Removal of  source plantings like kudzu and wisteria can reduce numbers of bugs in your vicinity.

Further details:

Downloadable 8.5 x 11 pdf poster:
Have You Seen This Bug QR Code Kudzu Bug Poster

Got Grass? How to Manage Your Turf Grass After the Snow Melts?

Please join Arlington Virginia Cooperative Extension for our spring Turf Management program presented by Dr. Mike Goatley on Tuesday March 11 from 7-9 PM at the Arlington Mills Community Center, 909 S Dinwiddie St, Arlington, VA 22204

Register to attend the Turf Management program by calling the Horticulture Help Desk at 703 228 6414 or email with Turf Management in the subject line.

Soil Test
Soil Testing is a valuable way to ensure that you are providing optimal growing conditions for your plants and will help you to reduce your costs and reduce nutrient runoff in our Chesapeake watershed.

Soil Sample Boxes and Test Process

  • Pick up soil sampling box at the Virginia Cooperative Extension Arlington and Alexandria offices
  • Fill box with soil samples
  • Send soil sample box with form and fee to the Virginia Tech Lab for analysis and recommendations of nutrients to condition your plants whether vegetables, ornamentals or turf grass
  • In a few days, the Virginia Tech Lab will respond with email or fax with analysis of your soil sample and what is needed to condition optimally for your plantings

Nutrient Care for Lawn Service Providers
The over-application of garden/lawn nutrient applications is a major contributor to nutrient runoff to the Chesapeake Bay. If you hire a lawn care provider, help ensure that they are applying fertilizer as prescribed by actual soil results for your property: Nutrient Care for Lawn Service Providers:

Whether you look after a lawn and turf grass yourself or hire a lawn care service, Dr Mike Goatley will give you plenty of cost-effective advice to ensure you can manage your lawn and turf grass to help reduce the impact on the Chesapeake Bay.

America Saves. NOVA Saves. Are You Saving? Set Goals. Take the Pledge…

This week is America Saves week.
Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Arlington coordinates the America Saves/ Northern Virginia Saves campaign (

Visit to set your goals and make your pledge to save today!

In celebration of America Saves/Northern Virginia Saves week, VA Cooperative Extension Arlington collaborated with Arlington Community Federal Credit Union and Marymount University to host a series of “Lunch and Learn” professional development sessions.

Informative topics and speakers were:

  • Understanding Credit, Susan Shockey, National Program Leader at NIFA/USDA
  • The Truth about Retirement Plans & IRA’s, Ed Schweitzer, CFP(R) of Edelman Financial Services
  • Goal Oriented Savings, Momodou Bojang, Financial Advisor with ACFCU

Upcoming VCE Arlington Financial Education events:

Credit Report Reviews at DHS
VCE Arlington Financial Educators will offer credit report reviews through April at Alexandria DHS offices (703-746-5700) and Arlington DHS offices (703-228-1300).
Please contact your DHS office for days and times.

Finance Events in the Schools
VCE Arlington Financial Educators continue to  host several Reality Store and Kids Marketplace finance simulation events in Arlington schools.

Financial Education Seminars
Check the VCE Arlington website calendar and your local library calendars for upcoming financial seminars presented by VCE Arlington in April and May.


Inspiration and Impact:

In January, Arlington and Alexandria VA Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and 4-H Youth Leaders and agents trained Arlington County staff on some Junior Master Gardener projects. Tomorrow staff at Westover Library are hosting Kids in the Garden – a program inspired by what they learned at the Cooperative Extension training.
The kids will plant some seeds to take home – and see how they grow…

Look out for more youth gardening activities this season at the libraries and in Arlington County Dept of Recreation after-school programs.

And let’s grow these inspirational and successful VA Cooperative Extension training programs!

Poster by Westover Library staff.

Poster by Westover Library staff.




Plant spring-flowering bulbs over the holidays!

You can plant spring-flowering bulbs outdoors over the holidays.
Here’s some tips from Master Gardener,  Christa Watters: 

Procrastinators rejoice! Though those of us who grew up in colder climes may think it’s too late to plant our bulbs for spring bloom, it’s really not – at least not for all bulbs. Tulips, for example, can rot in the ground in our heavy Virginia soil during warm, wet falls. Some sources say that waiting until about first frost is better for tulip bulbs, which like colder climates. Plus, it gives the squirrels less time to dig them up before frost hardens the ground. Still, you need to get them in before the ground really freezes.

So November, and sometimes even early December is still fine. It’s also fine for planting daffodils and narcissus bulbs, hyacinths, crocuses, even grape hyacinths.

Grape Hyacinths

Grape Hyacinths

Be generous – color massing is the most effective way to create an impressive and heart-lifting display next spring. So cluster the bulbs in drifts that complement the rest of your borders or beds.

2 - Glossy Tulip Perfection

Cluster complementary colors in your borders for maximum effect.

In our area, most hybrid tulips don’t successfully come back in succeeding years, and should thus be treated like annuals. If you do leave them for a second year, choose Darwin varieties, some authorities recommend. Alternatively, choose species tulips that generally perennialize better and naturalize well in rock garden clusters, as in this photo of Kaufmanniana tulips at the Simpson Waterwise Garden.

3 - Kaufmanniana Tulips Closeup

Kaufmanniana Tulips

Daffodils and narcissi are much more reliable at coming back year after year and even multiplying in the ground. Choose some bulbs for their massing effect, yes. But also consider choosing some for their individual beauty, like these gracefully winged white and yellow Cyclamineus narcissi.

4 - White and Yellow

Cyclamineus narcissi

For fall crocus and colchicums, the fall-blooming relatives of our spring bulbs, it is, unfortunately too late this year, but while you peruse the catalogs, make a note on your calendar to order the bulbs in a timely manner next year. Spend some time this winter researching the best times for those . Here are a few photos of fall blooming bulbs to set you dreaming:

5 - Autumn Crocus

Autumn Crocus


Purple White Colchicum

Sternbergia Lutea

Lavender Colchicum

Lavender Colchicum
Reposted from Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia:

Tancil Court, Alexandria, “I Can Shine Garden”

“I Can Shine Garden” teaches children to grow vegetables

By Alice Reid

I Can Shine

Thanks to a hard-working group of children and more than a dozen volunteers, we’ve had a productive and fun spring at the “I Can Shine Garden” at Tancil Court in Alexandria.

While the weather was still cool, the children planted seeds for collards, spinach, bok choy, and lettuce as well as peas, radishes, and carrots. For their labors, they have harvested more than 10 pounds of collards, several bags of peas, lots of carrots and so much Swiss chard and bok choi that there’s been enough to supply several dishes for the children’s after school snack. Bok choi was the big surprise. The kids went from “Hunh? What’s that?” to “Yum, we want more.”

Coming along we have four tomato plants, a handful of pepper plants, some zucchini plants, pole beans ready to climb on our teepee, and some cucumbers to compete with them. Over in our little “annex”, i.e. two abandoned tree wells in the court yard of this Old Town Alexandria public housing project, we have a watermelon patch going, and a 10 by 10 foot area that the kids planted with sweet potato slips they rooted themselves. Keep your fingers crossed that the potatoes catch on. Oh, and we have two baskets of regular potatoes coming along as well.

We are also participating with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a Harlequin Bug experiment (the Organic Vegetable Garden is also participating in this experiment). The USDA is trying to find the best kind of bait to lure these voracious bugs away from collards and their other cabbage-family favorites and into traps. We have four USDA-supplied collard plants at the corners of Tancil Court. Each one has a pheromone-laced bait  hanging above it to lure the bugs. Each week the children tour the baits, count and collect any harlequin bugs that may be resting on the plant leaves. They bag and freeze any they find, and those are collected by the USDA. Tancil Court is one of several area gardens participating in the experiment.

Summer is when we focus on harvesting our crops and maintaining our garden. We’re also hoping to do a couple of projects such as making solar ovens and baking a pizza using some of our own produce.

We sometimes use healthy snacks as a teaching tool, such as serving “parts of the plant salad,” – carrot roots, celery stems, spinach leaves, broccoli flowers, pea seeds, and tomato fruits – all blended with a little ranch dressing.

This project started three years ago under the auspices of a city effort to combat childhood obesity through healthy activity, i.e. gardening, and healthy eating habits. The garden has certainly helped these children on both fronts.

Reposted from the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia blog.

Shiitake Mushroom Production Workshop – Tues April 2, 1 – 4 pm

Register now for a public workshop on Shiitake Mushroom Production, Tuesday April 2, 1 – 4 pm sponsored by the Arlington Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension with support from Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.  The workshop is at Potomac Regional Overlook Park.

Shiitake Log – by Rob Hille

Dr. Marcus Comer, Extension Specialist, Natural Resource Management, Virginia State University (Petersburg), leads this hands-on workshop on growing shiitake mushrooms in your backyard.  You’ll learn how to inoculate logs with mushroom spawn, care for your log and harvest the mushrooms.
A $35 fee covers all supplies.
Register by sending a check made out to Virginia Cooperative Extension for $35  and mail to Arlington County VCE, 3308 S. Stafford St., Arlington, VA 22206.
For information about Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, visit

Photo attribution

Bon Appetit

ANR Starts to Bloom

It is said that March, “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. They were talking about the weather and not about our Agriculture Natural Resource (ANR) program schedule, but we are just roaring along and the end of March will feel completely different. Our big plans for March include the major presence of Master Gardeners and interns at the Arlington Home Show and Landscape Expo. This annual event that is held at Thomas Jefferson Community Center (3501 S. Second St. Arlington) will feature Urban Agriculture techniques including vertical gardening, low tech irrigation techniques, and container gardening of all kinds. Please plan to visit us between 10 AM and 5 PM on March 9!

On March 14,  Virginia Tech Turf Specialist, Dr. Mike Goatley, will present a program entitled “Beautiful Greens” Spring Lawn Care for Northern Virginia. This FREE program is a very high level education from a nationally recognized educator. Check his Lawn care podcasts here.

March 13 and continuing weekly through October, the Wednesdays in the Garden demonstration programs at Arlington Central Library will start up. This series of programs that are delivered by VCE volunteers and Arlington Food Assistance Volunteers, is centered on the library’s beautiful edible landscaping.

March 20 you can catch either a composting and soil fertility program at
Arlington’s Westover Library or you can learn about gardening from VCE
volunteers at the Arlington public schools Adult Education program on Seed
starting and Vegetable gardening. Go here for a full line up of VCE-ANR
programs taught in the Arlington Adult Education Program.

March 21 VCE hosts the Arlington Egg Project here at Fairlington at 7:00 pm.

Master Gardeners also has a Speakers Bureau.  We provide programs on a range of
topics for garden clubs, scout groups, special events, schools, and more. For more
information about any of our gardening programs please contact the Master
Gardener Help Desk at 703 228 6414 or by email at
You can also see a full schedule of events at

Sharp rise in requests for financial and nutrition programs – book now!

Jennifer Abel and volunteers fulfilled 45 program requests in the month of February. Programs included two Kids Marketplace financial simulations at Glebe and Drew Elementary Schools, a two-day Reality Store at Wakefield High School, and cooking and nutrition classes at Colonial Village Apartments, Clarendon House, Gates of Ballston Community Center, Langston-Brown Senior Center, and Virginia Gardens Apartments.

Financial counseling was conducted at the tax clinics in Arlington and Alexandria. Nutrition education was provided at four AFAC food distribution sites. Volunteers taught a four-session money management class at the Macedonian Apartments, and Energy Masters made improvements at Harvey Hall Apartments.

The fast pace continues in March with nutrition class series planned for four different classes at TC Williams High School, Master Food Volunteer training, a spring break financial camp in Alexandria, a class on cooking with less salt at Langston-Brown Senior Center, a money management class series at Arlington DHS, another Energy Masters work day at Harvey Hall Apartments, and an energy conservation presentation at Walter Reed Community Center.

We are grateful for the help of our many volunteers and always eager to have more, so
if you are not already involved in these programs and would like to be, contact
Jennifer at

Take a LEAP – Literacy, Eating and Activity for Preschoolers

During the month of February, Megan Mauer conducted 3 LEAP
(Literacy, Eating and Activity for Preschoolers) trainings for the Campagna Center, Alexandria Head Start programs.

Head Start Teachers and Assistant Teachers at Jefferson Houston, John Adams, NOVA and Early Head Starts all in Alexandria are now beginning the LEAP program with their students. Fridays in March, Megan will assist with the Master Food Volunteer Trainings being held in Fairfax and Arlington.