Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.
Q: Lately, I have seen ants in my kitchen, but this was in there this morning. The top of the Styrofoam cup is 3 inches across. So, this bug appears to be about an inch long. The regular ants feeding on bait nearby are black and about 1/8 inch long. Is this their queen, or what?
Dave Wilkerson, Folsom
Baldo Villegas writes: The insect in the picture belongs to the nerve-wing insects in the order Neuroptera. This order of insects contains the green and brown lace wings as well as the ant lions. They are all predaceous.
This insect is an adult snakefly female, insect family Raphidiidae. They can be recognized by the long neckline segment behind the head. The adults are pollen- and nectar-feeders and totally harmless.
The females lay their eggs in protected areas like under loose bark, boards, etc. where they feed on small soft insects.
Baldo Villegas is a retired state entomologist and longtime horticulturist in Sacramento County.
Miniature roses and suckers
Q: This miniature rose suddenly started sprouting tall thick stems straight up at great speed this spring. Are they coming from the root stock? If they are, should I cut them off at the base, or, if left to bloom (they have buds) will they “steal” energy from the miniatures which also have buds?
Kate James, Auburn
Let those new canes bloom before you pull out the pruning shears. Most miniature rosebushes are grown on their own roots, unlike larger roses (such as hybrid teas or floribundas) that are grafted onto rootstock of a different variety. Suckers produced by rootstock should be removed.
Because those sprouts are growing from the mother plant’s own roots (not rootstock of a different variety), the flowers should be the same variety as the main plant. Consider them additional canes to the ones growing out of the mother plant. This strong new growth likely is in response to the excellent spring weather and recent rain and, judging by your photo, looks very healthy.
The way to make sure it’s the same rose as the mother plant is to let those buds open. If the flowers appear very different, remove those new canes. If the roses look all the same, your bush just produced a bunch of new canes – and a lot more flowers.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
- Sacramento: (916) 875-6913; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
- Amador: (209) 223-6838; 10 a.m.-noon Monday-Thursday; email ceamador. ucdavis.edu
- Butte: (530) 538-7201; 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. weekdays
- Colusa: (530) 458-0570; 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays; website: cecolusa.ucanr.edu
- El Dorado: (530) 621-5512; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Friday
- Placer: (530) 889-7388; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Thursday or leave a message and calls will be returned; website: pcmg.ucanr.org/got_questions
- Nevada: (530) 273-0919; 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday-Thursday or leave a message
- Shasta, Tehama, Trinity: (530) 225-4605
- Solano: (707) 784-1322; leave a message and calls will be returned
- Sutter, Yuba: (530) 822-7515; 9 a.m.-noon Monday-Tuesday and 1-4 p.m. Thursdays
- Yolo: (530) 666-8737; 9-11 a.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, or leave a message and calls will be returned