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A female potter wasp builds a distinctive nest in which to lay her eggs. Potter wasps are
non-aggressive and considered beneficial to farmers and gardeners. Potter wasps are
relatives of dirt daubers but are smaller and build smaller nests.
PHOTOS BY ARTY SCHRONCE

Consumer Qs, May 16, 2017

By Arty Schronce, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Georgia Department of Agriculture

www.agr.georgia.gov

Editor’s note: “Consumer Qs” by Arty Schronce is written for gardeners throughout Georgia and may include plants not permitted in Big Canoe. For Big Canoe Property Owners who may want to check whether a plant is allowed, please refer to the POA’s Approved Plant List https://www.bigcanoepoa.org/getmedia/b668254f-a001-418c-ad94-3873707c5444/Approved-Plant-List.aspx

This column contains a name you may think has a typo. However, it is Kleim with an m, not Klein.

Question (Q): I discovered what looks like a dirt dauber nest on my porch. However, it has only two sections and they look like tiny jugs. Do you know what it could be?

Answer (A): It sounds like the nest of a potter wasp. Potter wasps are related to dirt daubers/mud daubers and create exquisite mud structures that look like clay urns, jugs or vases. Most people wouldn’t recognize an adult potter wasp if they saw one, but the little mud pots it makes are unmistakable. Potter wasps often build their nests on a leaf or stem of a plant.

When some people hear “wasp” they panic, but potter wasps are not aggressive and have even been described as mild-tempered. Although the females are capable of stinging, they reportedly don’t even defend the nest if disturbed and sting only if handled.

Potter wasps are considered a beneficial insect to gardeners and farmers because they collect small caterpillars to stuff into those little jugs to feed their developing young. The adults feed on flower nectar and in in doing so may also perform some pollination, but their main benefit is in helping keep pest insect populations down.

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In this nest, the female potter wasp has already laid her eggs in one pot, stocked it with
small caterpillars to feed her developing young, and sealed the top.

Q: How long should a newly planted tree be staked?

A: You should never stake a tree unless it is in danger of falling over. If you must stake a tree, the stakes and supports should be removed as soon as possible and definitely within one year. If the tree is not stable by then, you need to plant another tree. Long-term staking will lead to a weak tree. Also, you are likely to forget the tree is staked, and five years later you will find wires cutting into the trunk, severely damaging the tree. We have seen this happen many times.

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Rohdea is an evergreen perennial that will thrive in full shade. It is a good companion
for hostas.

Q: Are hostas evergreen?

A: Hostas are deciduous. Their leaves die in the fall. While the idea of an evergreen hosta may sound great, please take pleasure in those fresh and unblemished leaves that arise each spring.

There are numerous options for adding wintertime green to your hosta planting, however. Some shade-loving evergreen perennials and sub-shrubs that you may want to consider are rohdea, cast-iron plant, poet’s laurel (Danae racemosa), butcher’s broom, ebony spleenwort, Christmas fern, little pigs/wild ginger, partridgeberry, grassy acorus and hellebores such as Lenten rose. A horticulturist at your local garden center may be able to point you to some other possibilities.

Q: My family and I are going camping. Do you have advice for making sure food in the cooler stays safe?

A: Keeping perishables cool is essential to avoid the food from becoming unsafe. Bacteria multiply rapidly at warm temperatures, and food can become unsafe if held in the “danger zone” (40 to 140 degrees F.) for more than two hours. If the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees F., food can become dangerous after only one hour, so pack the cooler containing perishable foods with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.

If you are packing canned or bottled drinks, it may be best to put them in a separate cooler. There are several reasons for this. If they are warm when you pack them, they will raise the temperature in the cooler making it more difficult to achieve and maintain the proper temperature for the perishables. People may open the cooler more frequently to get drinks, also making it harder to keep perishables properly chilled. Finally, if you are storing a raw meat product for grilling, you do not want to risk cross-contamination.

If you have questions about agriculture, horticulture, food safety or services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.

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