November 1995 - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

November 1995

Q. How do I get rid of these small, round, red-orange bugs that look like ladybugs? They are swarming on our screens, doors and porches trying to get in the house, and many of them succeed. Nothing seems to discourage them. If you happen to smash them, there is a terrible odor. I don’t know if they damage anything, but they sure are annoying. Thanks for all your useful answers. – Ellen Roe, Crawfordsville, Ind.

A. I believe you’re describing boxelder bugs, although they are longer and less round than ladybugs. Boxelder bugs are half an inch long, brownish black with red stripes, and they do stink when crushed. During the fall, hordes of them move into sheltered areas to spend the winter. They won’t feed on any of your furnishings, but they may stain household items with their droppings. They occasionally bite, and they may munch on houseplants.

You can spray them with an insecticide containing malathion, but practice great care using a pesticide indoors. Read all label instructions carefully. We remodeled last fall and had gaping holes in the side of our house. Quite a few boxelder bugs moved in, and we controlled them with the vacuum cleaner, the cat (He enjoyed the new houseguests!), and “hand-picking.” Keep your doors and windows screened and cracks sealed.

Q. Will you please give me some information on the care of grapevines? When is the time to prune? How much should be cut back? My vines are long and very leafy, but they produce only a few clusters of grapes. – Elinor Abolt, Covington, Ind.

A. A helpful Cooperative Extension Service publication entitled “Growing Grapes” (HO-45) will answer your questions in detail. There are many training systems and pruning techniques, so the answers are too lengthy for this column. The publication is available from your county Extension office.

Proper pruning and fertilization will help your vines produce fruit. Apply a bushel of manure, fortified with superphosphate, per plant in late fall or early spring. If manure isn’t available, apply half a pound of balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per plant in early spring. Grapes require full sunlight and high temperatures to ripen, so a southern slope or the south side of a windbreak is best.

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