The following Horticulture article printed in the 2021 Summer edition of the Oldham County Extension Newsletter.
Gardening season is here. As we become more involved in our landscapes and gardens, we need to be watchful of the possible hazards we might encounter.
Know the symptoms of heat stress and dehydration. It takes time for our bodies to acclimate to the seasonal climate change. Periodically go to a cool location, and drink plenty of water or lemonade.
Be aware of your sun exposure. The sun light and day length in May are as intense and long as in July.
Tick season has started, and the mosquitos will soon be chasing us. Both are known carriers of several diseases. Chiggers are tiny mite larvae that (despite their size) produce an itchy bite. They can move from plant foliage to you without being noticed. Find an insect repellant that works for you. EPA-registered repellents have been tested and are known to work.
Stinging insects like wasps and hornets, though good for reducing pest insect population, can be a hazard if disturbed. Be prepared if you are allergic to their sting.
Poison ivy is leafing out. The oil in the leaves and stems can cause a very unpleasant rash. Lucky for us, its relatives poison oak and poison sumac are found in western Kentucky, not our part of the state.
There are two poisonous spiders that you could run into. The black widow is generally found outside in brush and old leaves. Although not necessarily black, they are identifiable by red markings on the abdomen. The brown recluse is normally found inside barns and sheds. Wear protective clothing when cleaning out dead leaves and moving old boxes or pots.
Despite the many possible hazards, preparation can help us enjoy our time in the garden. Personally, I don’t see the value of chiggers, but insects are part of nature’s food chain and factor into our gardening success.
Written by Michael Boice, Oldham County Horticulture Assistant, and edited by Lauren Fernandez, Oldham County Extension Program Assistant.