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Boxelder bugs can be a nuisance, but they aren’t harmful

Question: I have a problem with a tree by the street in front of my house. In summer the tree is full of bugs. Some of the bugs are red and some are black with orange-red. I?ve sent photos so you can see how the bugs covered the tree trunk late last summer. What can I do? Should I cut the tree down? — N.A.

Answer: Your photos show boxelder bugs on a boxelder tree. Adult boxelder bugs are about three-quarters of an inch long, black with conspicuous red markings on their backs. The young, or nymphs, are wingless and solid bright red, similar in shape to the adults. Large populations of boxelder bugs are most common in late summer and fall following a hot, dry summer. Boxelder bugs do not bite, nor are they harmful to humans, animals or plants.

Boxelder bugs eat by sucking sap. They feed on flowers, seeds, leaves and twigs of boxelder, maple and ash trees. Their feeding does not harm the host plants. In midsummer boxelder bugs move to female boxelder trees — the only source of boxelder seeds, their favorite food — to lay eggs on trunks, branches and leaves. The tree in your photos is a boxelder and most likely a female tree because of the large number of nymphs and adults clustered on the trunk.


Boxelder bugs can be a nuisance, but they aren’t harmful

Question: I have a problem with a tree by the street in front of my house. In summer the tree is full of bugs. Some of the bugs are red and some are black with orange-red. I?ve sent photos so you can see how the bugs covered the tree trunk late last summer. What can I do? Should I cut the tree down? — N.A.

Answer: Your photos show boxelder bugs on a boxelder tree. Adult boxelder bugs are about three-quarters of an inch long, black with conspicuous red markings on their backs. The young, or nymphs, are wingless and solid bright red, similar in shape to the adults. Large populations of boxelder bugs are most common in late summer and fall following a hot, dry summer. Boxelder bugs do not bite, nor are they harmful to humans, animals or plants.

Growing fruit indoors

I’m going for fragrance. And for food. So, I’ve just begun exploring all the wonderful fruits you can grow indoors. There’s something mesmerizing about the scent of an orange blossom, and it is possible to grow oranges, tangerines and many other fruits on the windowsill.

Most of the fruits that will thrive indoors won’t bear huge amounts of fruit, but even one or two is exciting and fulfilling. If you are willing to hand-pollinate the flowers, you may get a reasonable harvest.

Embracing the ‘new feminine’

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A year ago, menswear-inspired decorating was wildly popular. Interior designers hung sharply tailored draperies alongside furniture covered in pinstripes. Sophisticated shades of gray were everywhere, as was navy blue.

But “since the pendulum always swings, we’re starting to see fresh feminine spaces,” says interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn, “regardless of who lives in them.”

Blooming branches

Do you have favorite blooming trees or shrubs that you can’t wait to see in spring? Why not judiciously prune some branches now and bring them indoors to force into bloom? Bright blossoms really do help get through this difficult transition time as we slide into spring. It is only a couple of weeks until the vernal witchhazels start blooming, a good prompt to bring in some flowering branches to force.

It is too early to try this in December and even January is pushing things, since the buds may just not be far enough along to open properly. February and March are the perfect months.

Growing lavender

Question: I love lavender and would like to grow it in my garden. I?ve heard many types of lavender won?t grow here. Do you have suggestions on which lavender would be best for Kenosha? I?d like to try growing it from seed. — J.H.

Answer: Fields of lavender are scarce in the Midwest, but many backyard gardeners and farm market growers cultivate the herb. Lavender is easy to grow as long as you choose a hardy variety and provide the right growing conditions.

Home improvement: Do-it-yourself or not?

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Television may make home renovations look like a 30-minute project, but taking on more than you can handle can turn your dream home into a nightmare.

Local homeowners and home improvement experts express a variety of opinions on when to do it yourself and when to call the pros.


Love My Ride

Parts & projects

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

About seven years ago, Kenosha resident Steve Schneider held a family vote to determine whether he should keep or sell his 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, which he had owned for more than 30 years.

Deere Hunter

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PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Ever since his childhood, John Serzynski has been a big fan of John Deere tractors and riding mowers.

“My stepfather (George Paulausky) owned a landscaping business, and I used to play out in the sandbox all the time, all day long, with my cousin,” said Serzynski, a Waukegan, Ill., native who moved to Kenosha County in the late 1990s.

‘Kenosha Cadillac’

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

A bit of nostalgia prompted Peter Wenglowsky to obtain his 1961 Rambler Classic about 20 years ago.

Wheeling through Wisconsin

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BY JEREMY REEVES

jreeves@kenoshanews.com

Mercedes-Benz makes driving painless

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If there’s anyone who appreciates having a luxurious car like a black 1999 Mercedes-Benz S420 more than David Gregorski, good luck finding him.

Gregorski, 56, was a local barber for 28 years who was forced to retire about a decade ago because of back problems. He’s since had eight back surgeries.

Masi the Matador

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

Jim Masi, his older brother Jeff Masi, Dennis Curnes and Butch Funk were all Kenosha teenagers in the early 1960s. And their passion was cars.

Taking flight: ‘As soon as the wheels leave the ground, it’s exhilarating’

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Whenever John Munson gets behind the controls and lifts off in his 2006 AMD Zodiac CH601XL factory-built, special light-sport aircraft, he experiences emotions unlike any other.

“As soon as the wheels leave the ground, it’s exhilarating,” said Munson, 66, a Kenosha resident. “You’re airborne, and it’s a whole different feeling. It’s the most enjoyable recreational activity I’ve had. I like it a lot.

British imports become part of family

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

KENOSHA — What started as a gift for his wife, Mary, more than 30 years ago has evolved into a type of extended relative for Kenosha resident Jim Hawkins.

Skully’s ‘Last Ride’

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

Kenosha resident Jason Beiser, 30, has been welding for about seven years and started his own business, “Skully’s Welding,” a couple years ago.

Firebird fulfills promise

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

SALEM — It took Mike Vandeville about 25 years but he finally made true on his pledge to himself.

A lifetime of Nashes

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — When it came to his first car, Eric Nelson Jr. didn’t have many options.

Proud Centurion

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

Kenosha resident Florian Kreft, 84, has owned about 25 cars in his lifetime, covering most American manufacturers (Chevy, Ford, Buick, Chrysler and Dodge).

Jeff and Mary Albrecht’s 1991 Four Winns 325 Cabin Cruiser

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

Whether on Lake Michigan, inland lakes or even the Gulf of Mexico, Jeff and Mary Albrecht have been boating enthusiasts since they were kids.

‘Regular guy’ drives a Mercedes

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

PLEASANT PRAIRIE — Wayne Walker isn’t the type of person you’d immediately expect to own a Mercedes Benz, especially one imported from Germany.

This ’72 Chevrolet Monte Carlo even better than first one

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jreeves@kenoshanews.com

SALEM — Judy Grasser said her husband of 26 years, Mike, isn’t much of a sentimental type.

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