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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Go Green in your Cleaning Routine, Safe, Non-Toxic Clean

 

Having already done a post on homemade ways to clean our laundry, this time we'll focus on the rest of the household.

Whether you're new to the movement towards "going green" or just always on the look-out for new recipes, it is good to know the word is spreading about what is happening to not only our natural environment, but the very health of our families and pets who depend on us to make wise choices for their care.  Due to the onslaught of toxins everywhere we turn, we are exposed to pesticides and carcinogens in the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and even the building materials that make up our homes and furniture.

We keep our homes clean in an effort to protect our loved ones from germs and illness. Look a little closer at those cleaning supplies and realize we just may be contributing to potential health risks through long term exposure to these chemical cocktails. We've long associated the meaning of clean with the smell of ammonia, bleach, moth balls, even the beloved scent of pine in Pine-Sol. We may have gagged as we scrubbed and polished; we may have had to wear rubber gloves to prevent skin irritation, but by darn, the place was grease and dust free. There hasn't been sufficient testing to point fingers should a health concern pop up, but just knowing this stuff cannot be good for us, if there are alternatives out there, why not be safe than sorry.
Here is a good article titled "8 Things to never bring into your Home."

Next time you wash your kitchen floor, think about your child or pet crawling around down there, where everything they touch usually ends up in their mouths. A good example is chlorine bleach, which is sodium hypochlorite, NaClO, the salt of hypochlorus acid. Chlorine is one of the main smells that we've come to associate with "clean". Yes, it is very effective as a disinfectant, a whitening agent for clothes and paper products, the care of swimming pools, bathroom cleaners, etc. It also is a toxic respiratory irritant, can burn the skin, worsen already existing heart or respiratory conditions and is in general, a poison. But because it works in its intended purpose and is dirt cheap, companies use it extensively. For cleaning and whitening, such as with laundry, bleach oxidizes many chemicals causing them to lose their color, and dissolve more easily into solution.

Back to our clean floor. Because chlorine is heavier than air, it tends to collect in low-lying areas. Children and pets are low to the ground, therefore are exposed at higher concentrations than those of us who stand 4 to 5 feet taller. Every time you open the dishwasher, those vapors drift right out into the room. I don't know about your kitchen, but when my kids were small they, and the dogs, were always right there too.

We have the same concerns with the use of ammonia, NH4OH. As a base, it does make a great glass cleaner, and a very effective method to cut grease, but like bleach it can be very irritating to the respiratory system. To make the mistake of mixing bleach and ammonia can be devastating. When these two combine, the result is a chemical reaction.  Chlorine gas, chloramine and other toxic chemicals are released in the air, which can result in poisoning, skin burns, even an explosion.



So what can we use to get the results we still expect in cleaning?
The good old basics we hear so much about but never really knew how to use them:
Baking soda, vinegar, lemons, hydrogen peroxide,and salt. All inexpensive and probably in your cabinets already. You don't even need all those. You could clean your home your entire home using just baking soda and vinegar.

I like to know the "why" for everything so in case you are interested, here is a little lesson on what is baking soda, what is difference between white vinegar and other vinegars , and why they clean so well.

Baking soda is NaHCO3. It is the weakest alkali of sodium compounds and being an alkaline substance as are many soaps, it neutralizes acids. When mixed with water, it splits into H+ and HCO3-, and that latter ion is absorbed onto any dirt to help break it up--and thus make it easier to remove.It is a mild abrasive, so it scrapes away dirt without scratching or doing harm to harder surfaces. Last, because it neutralizes acids, it works as a great way to deodorize.

Then again, vinegar is an acid, usually 5%, though white vinegar is stronger which is why it is used for cleaning. However, if you don't have white vinegar on hand, apple cider vinegar is fine too. Think of what happens when you soak something rusty in vinegar. The acidity breaks things down and dissolves mineral deposits, so good-bye rust.

Many of us played around with baking soda and vinegar as kids to make volcanoes spew forth the "lava". Perhaps you still play a bit to unclog that kitchen or bathroom sink by first pouring a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. The immediate chemical reaction is usually very effective at dissolving soap scum and hair. Let this mixture die down on its own and sit for a few hours, then pour a pot of very hot water down the drain to flush it all down. A lot safer and more fun than the risks of inhaling Drano or get burned if it should splash back up at you.

Want to use more natural ways to take care of your children's laundry challenges?
Read this post about using lemons, vinegar, baking soda and salt.

Ok, now for the recipes:

For the recipes that call for vinegar, water and castile soap, add the soap last to avoid clumping.

ALL PURPOSE HOUSEHOLD CLEANER
Ideal for kitchen and bathrooms to clean surfaces

16 oz. spray bottle
To the bottle, mix 2 tbsp. white vinegar with 1 tsp. borax
Fill the rest of the bottle with very hot water (this helps dissolve the borax)
Add 1/4 cup liquid soap (castile liquid soap or dish soap)
Drops of preferred essential oil or combination

Essential oils disinfect, deodorize, are antimicrobial, some such as tea tree are also antifungal.
Good by themselves or in combination. These recipes vary in the concentration of the oils. Use more or less to your liking.
Options are:

20 lavender
20 eucalyptus
6 tea tree oil

10 lemon
10 eucalyptus

8 - 10 drops tea tree oil
8 - 10 drops lavender
8 - 10 drops hyssop

ORANGE VINEGAR CLEANER
Ideal for kitchen and bathrooms to clean surfaces

Save your orange peels (can also use grapefruit) and put into a mason jar.
Cover the peels with undiluted white vinegar.
Cover with a plastic lid (don't use a metal lid, the vinegar will corrode it).
Label and include the date.
Let sit for 2 to 4 weeks (there isn't a set rule)
Strain out the peels.
To use:
Use full strength or dilute it with water into a spray bottle.
The strength depends on what you want to use it for.
Half water and half orange vinegar or one part vinegar to three parts water.
For further astringent and antiseptic value add orange essential oil (anywhere between 15 - 30 drops for 16 - 32 ounces vinegar/water mixture).

GLASS CLEANER

Use the above orange vinegar cleaner at the 50/50 dilution or just fill a spray bottle with half water and half vinegar.

NO SCRATCH SOFT SCRUB CLEANSER
Good for counter tops, stove tops, sinks and tubs, grout

1 2/3 cup Baking soda
1/2 cup Castile soap or dish soap
1/2 cup Water
2 tbsp. White vinegar
Essential oils are optional

Stir soap into the baking soda.
Add the water and stir until smooth.
Add the vinegar and essential oils.
Pour into a squeeze bottle.

NO SCRATCH WHITENING SCOURING POWDER
Use as you would a powder cleanser without worry about scratching your sink or stove top.

1 cup Baking soda
2 tsp. Cream of tartar
2 tbsp Borax
1/4 cup finely grated citrus peels
15 - 20 drops citrus essential oils

Pour into a shaker top container.
Pour onto surface and moisten to clean.

TOILET BOWLS

A simple method to clean the toilet bowl is to spray vinegar around the inside of the bowl and then add 1/2 cup of baking soda
OR
Add 1/2 cup of Hydrogen Peroxide into the bowl.

Swish around with the toilet brush, let sit an hour or so and flush.

WOOD FURNITURE POLISH
Vinegar makes an excellent wood cleaner because it won't damage wood finish.
Olive oil polishes

In a 16 oz spray bottle combine:
1 cup Olive oil
1/2 cup White vinegar

20 drops lemon or lemongrass essential oil if desired

Shake before each use.
After polishing, buff with a clean cloth

WOOD FLOORS
Vinegar won't strip the wax off floors like ammonia can do.

Mix one cup of vinegar into a gallon of warm water. Mop your floor as you usually do.

GENERAL FLOOR CLEANER
Make a batch as needed

1 cup White vinegar
1 gallon very hot Water
1 - 2 tbsp Liquid soap
Essential oils if desired (recipe calls for 100 drops or 1 tsp. but the amount is up to you)
Lavender, Eucalyptus and Rosemary are all nice by themselves or a combination.

CARPET FRESHENER
Great to deodorize
Mix the baking soda and essential oils in a bowl. Using your fingers, crush the essential oils to mix thoroughly with the baking soda. Sprinkle onto the carpet and let sit at least an hour. Then vacuum

1 cup Baking soda
Up to 25 drops any essential oil  or blend.
Options:
15 lavender
10 eucalyptus

15 sweet orange
10 lavender

For a flea problem use Borax instead of Baking soda. Don't let pets walk on the carpet until you have vacuumed up the borax.

FRESHENING AIR SPRAY

16 oz. spray bottle
Fill with water and add about 25 drops of any combination of preferred essential oils.
Spray around the room. Be aware when spray could land onto wood furniture for possible staining.
Good essential oils to use are:
Any in the citrus family such as lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, sweet orange, bergamot or lime.
Around the holidays use frankincense, sweet orange, cinnamon and/or cloves
For disinfecting use tea tree oil,  lavender, rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, pine or thyme

If you want air sprays ready to go, check out the benefits of aromatherapy! Click on the link below the pictures to get more information of the use of essential oils for help in disinfecting the air and surfaces.

Lemon & Eucalyptus Air & Surface Spray
Evergreen Clean Air & Surface Spray
Germ Fighting Air & Surface Spray



HAPPY CLEANING! ENJOY BEING CLEAN AND GREEN!!


Did you know you can carry the many uses of baking soda, vinegar, and even salt into your beauty routine?
















Monday, October 6, 2014

The Buzz Surrounding Fall Pollinators


Plans for the naturalized garden and landscaping so often focus on what to plant for good food sources for the birds and butterflies. But we cannot overlook the importance of wanting to encourage insects into our gardens as well. We've been conditioned that bugs flying around us are just an annoyance, but actually, most insect species are either pollinators and/or predators, and not harmful to us at all. We have to understand that a diversity of insects is necessary for balance in populations and critical for pollination.

As autumn arrives, take notice which plants in your yard or garden areas are still buzzing with activity.  You'll probably be seeing an assortment of bumble bees, hover flies, parasitic wasps and beetles. Plants that are late season bloomers are wonderful for these insects, because these plant types are well adapted to conditions to provide these pollinators with the pollen and nectar they need. Most fall flowers are actually made up of clusters of hundreds of tiny flowers, each one an individual little cup filled with rich nectar. With such a rich source of pollen and nectar in one place, there is no need to waste energy traveling in the search for enough plant sources. Insects can gorge themselves in one spot. Both pollinator and plant come out a winner. The plants provide the nectar and pollen, and the pollinators in turn carry that pollen from flower to flower, which enables the plant to set seed and continue the life cycle.

Pictured below are good examples of fall flowering plants in the northeastern United States:
Click on the link below each picture for more information on each plant.

Fall Flowering Aster


 The Small White Aster and the purple New England Aster are just two of many species in the Asteraceae family. They are perennial wildflowers which are beautiful but tend to look a bit messy. 

New England Fall Aster

Sedum or Stonecrop is a wonderfully behaved showy perennial whose beauty only gets better with the arrival of cold weather.
Sedum
 

Goldenrod is often seen in fields and roadsides and blends beautifully with the white cloud display of the fall asters. Goldenrod too often gets a bad rap because it is blamed for fall hayfever. This is not true. The pollen of goldenrod is too heavy to float with the wind. Ragweed is the culprit for fall allergies.

Goldenrod

Rethink pretty! 
Native plants are not ugly or "weedy"  
They are colorful, adaptable, suited for local climate, and support the cycle of life.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Make a Doosie of a Smoothie

Smoothies are a very convenient way to sneak in plenty of nutrition for the picky eater, the person too busy to take the time to sit down to a decent meal, or even the elderly who often have poor appetites and it is a challenge to get enough calories into them.

All you need is your blender and ingredients you most likely already have in your freezer, refrigerator or pantry.

Buying bagged frozen fruit is always an option, but if you buy fruit or product in bulk during their growing season, freeze the surplus and have it available any time of the year.
Pictured here are peaches, but you can use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon, whatever you prefer.
 Wash if necessary, (berries such as raspberries and strawberries lose flavor when washed). Dab the fruit dry with paper towels. Fruits like pineapple, cantaloupe, watermelon and peaches need to be cut up into pieces. Berries are simply spread out onto the baking sheet or plate. What you use depends on if you have a deep freezer which would hold a large baking sheet, or are limited to your kitchen size freezer. Spread out the fruit on the sheet or plate and put into the freezer. Don't just dump the cut up fruit into your zip-lock bag or container or you'll end up with a frozen lump of fruit. Optional to prevent peaches from browning is to stir a bit of lemon juice into the cut-up fruit. If you get them into the freezer quickly, browning shouldn't be a problem. 

Once frozen, put the fruit pieces into a freezer zip-lock baggie or container and store in the freezer. When ready to take some out for your smoothie, take what you need and return the rest to the freezer. Be sure to label your bags so that you can easily identify the fruit and so the old gets used before the new. This bag of peaches was taken from the freezer a year after originally frozen. Try to use them up within a year so they don't lose value from ice crystals building up.

Bananas have a very limited shelf life before they get spotty, soft and overripe. Don't throw them away! Peel them and then individually roll each one up in wax paper. Put the wrapped bananas into a freezer ziploc baggie and pop into the freezer. Then when you make your smoothie, a banana is always available. Bananas are often part of a smoothie recipe. This is because once frozen they are great to thicken up your blender concoction and adds a natural sweetness.

When ready to make your smoothie, simply take out of the bags the amount of fruit you need and put the bag back into the freezer. The fruit should break apart fairly easily. If it is a solid lump, just bang a bit and the pieces will separate apart again.

The recipes below are for fruit based smoothie drinks. Use your imagination and create your own recipes to include vegetables as well. Avocados and fresh spinach leaves are very nutritious and their mild flavor would not be overpowering.

Should your drink be too runny and you want to thicken it up, just add ice cubes and reblend.

An optional addition to any of these smoothies would be a raw egg. We use raw eggs in our smoothies but they come from my own chickens. Do not use raw eggs purchased at the supermarket if you even suspect they came from factory farmed chickens. Only consume raw eggs if you know their origins and are confident they are not possible carriers of the bacteria, salmonella.

PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE

About 1/2 cup frozen or fresh pineapple chunks
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Dash vanilla extract
Choice of either orange juice or almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)

Gradually add either the orange juice OR one of milk types while blending.
Add only enough until you reach your preferred consistency.
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
 Serves 1

BERRY BERRY BLEND SMOOTHIE

About 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries or combination of types of berries
1 frozen banana
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
Dash vanilla extract
Almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)

Gradually add one of the milk types while blending.
Add only enough until you reach your preferred consistency.
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
Serves 1

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE 

1 frozen banana
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or dairy milk
1 heaping tbsp coconut powder or 1 - 3 tsp. coconut oil (optional)
1 tbsp flax seed oil (optional)
Dash vanilla extract
2 - 4 tbsp. chocolate chips, carob chips or raw cacao ribs 
Handful of ice cubes
 
Blend about 30 seconds or until smooth and creamy.
Serves 1


Enjoy!





Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rosemary, Help Me Remember



 "That's Rosemary, that's for remembrance; I pray you, love, remember."  William Shakespeare

Rosemary, an ancient folk remedy for improving memory, is the herb of love and remembrance, steeped in thousands of years of myth and tradition.  A member of the mint family, this herb is native to seaside regions of the Mediterranean and North Africa. The Latin name Rosemarinus means dew of the sea, probably in reference to its little beautiful blue flowers when in bloom.

Herbalist Jeanne Rose states, "Inhaled scents feed directly into the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls memory and learning." Being rosemary is a mental stimulant, it is a good choice for the aromatherapy diffuser or simmer pot.

Rosemary can become a very good friend for the student, someone giving a speech or presentation, or so many of us with a long to-do list trying to multitask. This herb can help one remain focused and retain the information.

 According to James A. Duke in "The Green Pharmacy", oxidative damage caused by free radical oxygen molecules in the body plays a role in Alzheimer's. Rosemary contains antioxidants which are compounds that help eliminate free radicals, particularly rosmarinic acid.
Also, people with Alzheimer's often have an acetylcholine deficiency. It isn't clear whether this deficiency is part of the cause of the disease or results from it. Rosemary is said to help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, therefore there is good reason to make use of this safe and pleasant herb. It certainly couldn't hurt to try it.

Aside from memory issues, rosemary is said to offer a wide range of health benefits.
Being several of the plant's compounds are absorbed through the skin and blood-brain barrier, forms of its use include herbal massage oils, bath oils, balms, shampoos, body sprays and herbal vinegars and tinctures.

Just breathing in the scent of rosemary, be it the fresh plant or its essential oil, often helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Test taking can be a little less of an ordeal with the help of a rosemary body spray or even sniffing a tissue to which a drop or two of the essential oil had been added.

Rosemary infused in a carrier oil such as olive oil or almond oil results in a wonderful massage or bath oil to help relieve joint pain and relax tight, stiff muscles.

Rosemary stimulates circulation, therefore very useful for those cold days when you come in from the cold with numb fingers and toes.

Rosemary Liniment

Rosemary & Lavender Body Spray
 
If interested in historical stories associated with the herb Rosemary read this post.

Rosemary essential oil should not be taken internally.
Rosemary essential oil should be avoided during pregnancy.
Don't self treat a chronic condition such as depression or Dementia with essential oils. Such conditions should be monitored under the care of a physician.

 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Autumn fun with children


It may be difficult to say good-bye to those lazy summer days, but the arrival of September brings with it the stir of excitement as school buses roll again and holiday displays begin to appear in department stores. As much fun as it is for children to prepare for Halloween dress-up, parades and trick-or-treating, autumn can be so much more.

Get them outside, open their world to the glory of the fall season. Introduce children to the beauty of autumn's color palette and notice things like the smell of dry leaves, the thrill of jumping on hay bales, and the taste of an apple cider slushie. Give them opportunities for hands-on experience at fall festivals with their corn mazes, hay bales, pumpkin patches and leaf piles.

With a little imagination there is also a lot of fun you can create right at home.  These pictures were taken years ago when my kids were small, but we just loved creating stuff like this:

                                                   
Homemade scarecrows are easily made by stuffing hay or straw into an old shirt and a pair of bluejeans. Here we used a big sunflower head and plucked out the seeds to form a face. In its hands it is holding a bouquet of seed pods from the Chinese Lantern plants. Add a bundle of cornstalks, a few pumpkins and potted mums, and you and your kids can be proud of your front door display.


                                                
This one is our pumpkin man. I don't remember how I held them together, probably a stick is stuck from pumpkin to pumpkin. The hair looks like I used a little bunch of Cockscomb flower, the arms are Cockscomb as well. The mouth looks like a green bean, the eyes are an everlasting type of flower called Strawflowers, and the buttons are Globe Amaranth. Most likely, the flowers were held on with toothpicks. Use whatever you have on hand to decorate. The important thing is to encourage your child to be hands-on and use his or her imagination.


 A fun fall activity to do with children is to make these cute bird seed hangers. Not only is it a fun craft to do together, but children learn the importance of helping our wild birds survive the upcoming cold weather.


This book, Green Fun, by Maryanne Gjersvik is from the 1970's but is the cutest little book of ideas to have fun with natural plant material such as flowers, weeds, seeds and leaves.

Enjoy and create memories!




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Feathering The Nest Bird Seed Hangers








Our daughter's bridal shower theme was "Feathering The Nest", which opened up a whole array of ideas in which to expand on that theme. What to do for favors to give out to her guests was decided with the help of the many ideas found on Pinterest. What we did before Pinterest now escapes me, for having such a file cabinet of ideas for anything we can imagine is awesome. I don't know who to give credit to for the original source for these bird seed hangers, but hope this clever craft idea gets passed around again.

These would also make great projects to do with  children. To learn about our environment and helping out the birds is always much more enjoyable when the activity is a hands-on.

Before you get started, gather your materials. You will need:

- One bag of bird seed.
The type is up to you. I used the more inexpensive blend of white and red millet, black sunflower seeds, cracked corn and safflower seed.
 

- Unflavored gelatin.
One small box holds four packages or envelopes gelatin. This recipe calls for two packages or envelopes. I doubled the recipe and used all four envelopes, which resulted in about 24 seed hangers.
That may vary depending on the size of your individual mold shapes.
 

- Silicone molds or trays.
The flexible molds can be found in cake decorating stores, candy making departments, and in craft sections. The come in a variety of shapes and sizes and themes.
 

- Ribbon or cord for hanging.
I used raffia cord to go with my natural, country theme, but you can use anything you want for hanging purposes.
 

From your kitchen supplies you will need:
A large bowl for mixing
A one cup size measuring cup for measuring out the birdseed.
A pyrex measuring cup used for liquids for measuring out the water.
A small whisk to quickly dissolve the gelatin into the water.
A large spoon for mixing and dipping out into the molds.
 

Have your loops for hanging ready:
Cut pieces of raffia or ribbon into lengths of about 4 - 5 inches.
Knot the ends together to make the loops.
 

To assemble:
 Pour 2 packages of unflavored gelatin into the large bowl.
Add 1 cup water to the gelatin and whisk to dissolve.
Add 2 cups birdseed to the liquid mixture and stir to blend well.

Using the spoon, scoop out the moistened bird seed and press firmly into the mold shapes.
Press the knotted part of each ribbon or raffia down into the molds so its about half way down, then cover over.
 

Place the mold trays into the refrigerator for about two or more hours so they firm up.
Remove the trays from the refrigerator and pop each mold out onto a cookie sheet of plates.
Let them undisturbed to air dry for a few days. They will harden. If using a cookie sheet or plate you will need to turn them every day so the bottoms dry.
 

Once hardened, the bird seed hangers are ready to hang outside for the birds.

If using as a gift, put each one in a baggie, twist tie the top closed and add a tag if you want.
For our shower, we added a business card size tag which had the bride's name, the date and a little message printed on them. We punched a hole in a corner and using additional raffia cord, the baggies were tied shut.

For our table display, we put all the favors into a large crafted bird nest I found through an Etsy seller.
 

 These favors were a delight, but we did notice a few things worth mentioning:
1. Once in the baggies, unless the favors were totally dry before putting in the baggie, they tend to soften a bit again. Hopefully the guests will open them once they get home so they receive some air, or they may mold.
2. Unflavored gelatin has its own distinct odor once mixed with water. Not a big deal, just an observation.

 


 






Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What is Eating my Blueberry Bushes?!

Another blog post found out what was eating my Dogwoods and now I searched for what is eating my poor blueberry bushes. They are still small and at the moment, they look quite pitiful.

Notice the cluster of caterpillars clinging to the branch on the left


I found that the culprit is from the genus Datana and is one of four moth species that feed as caterpillars on the leaves of blueberry. Yellownecked caterpillars are found throughout the southeastern United States and feed on a variety of hard woods such as blueberry, apple, cherry, basswood, birch, witch-hazel, and oak.

Yellownecked Caterpillars
The telltale markings include a black head, a yellow neck, a body marked with 8 thin yellow lines against a black background, and long sparse hairs. Fully grown, they reach a length of about 2 inches. When disturbed, they cling with both ends lifting up to form a U shape.

The pupae stage passes the winter months in the soil and emerge in early summer. They lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves. The hatch larvae feed together on nearby foliage. Once development is complete in late summer, they drop to the ground and pupate in the soil under these host plants. There is only one generation a year.

Notice what is left of this leaf
They are voracious eaters and can defoliate smaller bushes to the point where they look like skeletons. Groups of 30 - 100 feed together for protection. Natural predators such as the Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps keep caterpillar populations in check, therefore it usually isn't necessary to spray. Females lay their eggs on the host caterpillar larvae, and the young flies that hatch feed internally on the host.

In forests where the trees have abundant coverage of foliage, the cycles of growth may pass and only a few branches are stripped. But on smaller trees and bushes, the damage may be very obvious. The growth of the bush may be slowed, but the plants are seldom actually killed. This is because the feeding occurs late in the growing season when the bush has already given fruit.

 Often, the problem isn't noticed until the damage is done. Beginning in June and July, if blueberry bushes are inspected every week or two, severe defoliation can be prevented by manually removing the caterpillars and dropping them into a jar of soapy water.

If the trees are weak or of high value, the least toxic insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis k. is a good choice, but only if applied when the larvae are still small. If used on fully mature caterpillars, it won't be effective. Also, keep in mind that pesticides may also kill the predators you want to naturally keep the numbers down.

Adults are light brown moths with a wingspan of 1.5 to 2 inches. The fore wings have dark brown lines and darker in color than the hind wings. Since moths are active at night, they are seldom seen.
Pictured below is the adult Yellowneck Caterpillar moth. Photo credit goes to Bob Patterson.


 
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
At least the birds got a few blueberries off of these bushes before this invasion. 
Well, everything has to eat and we all must share in nature's bounty.
We just have to accept the cycle of life and that what eats foliage then becomes a food source for something else and the rise in the food chain continues.
yyellBlueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.



Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.



Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html
Blueberry bushes are grown for their fruit. Keeping blueberry bushes healthy is key to fruit production. Blueberry bushes are susceptible to caterpillar infestations that feed on the leaves and damage the plant. Early detection and identification are important to managing these damaging pests.







  1. Types

    • The yellownecked caterpillar is found in many areas of the United States. It commonly feeds on blueberry, cherry, apple, birch, oak, witch-hazel and basswood. The yellownecked caterpillar is a voracious feeder causing extensive damage to blueberry bushes. Another leaf-feeding pest of blueberry bushes is the azalea caterpillar. This pest prefers feeding on azaleas, but has recently been discovered feeding on blueberry bushes. Azalea caterpillars often defoliate large portions of blueberry bushes before discovery.

    Identification

    • The yellownecked caterpillar has a black head capsule, orange or yellow rings around its neck and yellow lines along its sides. Long white hairs cover caterpillar that measures approximately 2 inches in length. Light-brown moths are its adult form. The azalea caterpillar is yellow with lines along is sides and a black head capsule. As this caterpillar ages, its colors brighten. Azalea caterpillars measure 2 inches in length at maturity, and its adult form is a light-brown moth.

    Effects

    • The yellownecked caterpillar young larvae skeletonize blueberry leaves, feeding together on leaves. Older yellownecked caterpillar larvae can completely defoliate a blueberry bush. Blueberry bushes with heavy infestations are stunted from feeding injury, but rarely die. The azalea caterpillar feeds on blueberry foliage, causing it to become skeletonized, dry and brittle. Young larvae skeletonize leaves, while the older larvae completely consume blueberry leaves.

    Control

    • Both the yellownecked caterpillar and the azalea caterpillar have several natural enemies that feed on them. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two predatory insects that feed on caterpillars. If light infestations of caterpillars are found on blueberry bushes, remove them by hand and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Heavy infestations are controlled with insecticidal sprays purchased at your local garden center.


Read more : http://www.ehow.com/info_8147177_caterpillars-eat-blueberry-leaves.html