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Q. We have a new home, which we built three years ago on Lake Shafer, and we have lady bug problems. The first summer, they seemed to be all over the houses out, and we are always finding them inside, sometimes on one side of the house more than the other. Do you know how to get rid of them? Thanks.– Jeanne Garofalo, Chicago, Ill.

A. The Asian lady beetle is considered a beneficial insect outdoors, where it consumes great quantities of aphids, but, indoors, we tend to regard it as a pest. Masses of lady beetles congregate on buildings in the fall, particularly on the southwest sides of light-colored buildings close to wooded areas. When the temperatures fall, they move into tight cracks and crevices and eventually find their way into your home, where they go into a hibernation-like mode. The first warm days of spring bring them back into your living areas. I have dozens in my windows right now, but I consider myself lucky, since clusters of hundreds or thousands are not uncommon! The good news is they do not directly damage anything or infest stored food or destroy furnishings. They’re just annoying!

Vacuuming is the best method of control, but be sure to empty the vacuum afterward or live beetles will find their way out again. Chemical treatments are available but require “fogging” your home and do not affect beetles still secluded. This fall, seal the beetles out of your home by caulking and repairing openings. You might consider using a pesticide as a perimeter treatment. For more information, call the Purdue Extension office in your county and request a copy of Asian Lady Beetle (E-214) or get a copy online at www.entm.purdue.edu/entomology/ext/targets/e-series/eseriespdf/e-214.htm.

Q. I have a question concerning my blue spruce trees. Some of them are turning brown, and the needles are falling off. We planted them around our property 7 years ago. It is only random trees, not all of them are doing it; there might be a healthy tree on each side.Do you have any idea why? Thanks. — Terry Reaves, Lafayette, Ind.

A. Unfortunately, there are too many possibilities and not enough information for me to make a diagnosis. Check for spruce spider mites in April and May. Hold a sheet of white paper below the branches, and tap the branches above. You’re looking for small, dark insects on the paper. For more information, ask the Purdue Extension office in your county for Spider Mites on Ornamentals (E-42) or get a copy online at www.entm.purdue.edu/entomology/ext/targets/e-series/EseriesPDF/E-42.htm.

Alternatively, the problem could be mechanical. Has there been heavy equipment or construction in the area? Has the area been unusually dry or water-logged? Is there any damage to the trunk, caused by rodents, deer or twine left in place at ground level? Answers to these questions will be necessary to determine the culprit. You might call the Purdue Extension office in your county and ask an educator for help with the diagnosis.

Unfortunately, by the time an evergreen shows symptoms, it is often too late to save the tree. Your goal is to determine the problem as soon as possible so you can save the seemingly healthy ones!

Q. I have grape vines that have been in the same location for many years, and, although thousands of grape seeds have fallen to the ground and I have planted many seeds from other grapes, not one has ever produced a sprout. How can this be? Why do they have seeds, if not to reproduce? — Tony Ballas, Shelburn, Ind.

A. Assuming you have seeded grapes, as opposed to seedless, grape seeds require stratification (moist chilling) of about 12 weeks at 33-40 F. It could be that the seeds are not staying at a cold enough temperature for a long enough period. Or, if you’re counting on them to germinate after they land on the ground, they might be drying out before they sprout. Typically, new grape vines are sold as bareroot plants, and, if you want new plants, this would be the best way for you to get a cultivar of known quality.

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