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I have several Dwarf Blue Arctic Willows in my yard. This year they were full of some kind of wasp or bee. I waited until winter and the leaves dropped off to see if there was a hive or nest and there does not seem to be one. In looking for the nest I noticed some small black bugs on the wood. What should I do, if anything and are the two pests related in any way?

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I've never heard of any insects pushing plants out of the ground. There are ground-nesting bees and wasps (see Ohio State's Fact Sheet at http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2143.html ). There are also cicada-killer wasps that dig holes in the ground (they put in a stung/paralyzed cicada that has their eggs deposited on it - once the egg(s) hatch, the young cicada-killer feeds on the cicada body until ready to pupate).

Again, I would suggest that you capture some of these insects and take them in to your county Extension agent for help in identifying them.

I'm trying to think of what else might push plants out of the ground. The only things I can thing of are frost heave and possibly pocket gophers. Read about pocket gophers at http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/NR_WD_005.pdf . They don't really push the plants out of the ground, but it may appear that way if their tunnel opens near the plants.

You might see frost heave in early winter, especially on fall plantings. When root ball soil is wetter than the surrounding soil, it freezes and expands, "heaving" or pushing the entire root ball upwards. If the root ball is never pushed back down to contact soil, the root system of the plant won't grow into the surrounding soil. You can usually avoid frost heave with proper planting techniques and a good layer of mulch (about 3 to 4 inches deep)over newly-planted areas.

Posted on 27 Feb 2007

Maggie Wolf
Horticulture Agent, Salt Lake County

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