Q: What is the true day for Arbor Day? I read that it is the last Friday in April. But a co-worker said it was the first Friday in April. Who is correct?
H. D. of Belleville
A: Each state sets the date its Arbor Day is celebrated. Thirty-two states celebrate Arbor Day in April. In Illinois, it’s the last Friday in April. In Missouri, it’s the first Friday in April. Florida celebrates in January; Alabama in February; and South Carolina in December. The southern part of Nevada celebrates in February; the northern part in April.
J. Sterling Morton started the celebration of Arbor Day in 1872 when he moved to Nebraska and saw how few trees were growing there. He also wanted to celebrate it on his birthday, which was April 22.
The actual first Arbor Day in the world was in 1594 in the Spanish village of Mondonedo with the planting of lime and horse chestnut trees. Festivals lasted the whole day.
Trees have value ratings. For example, a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) that is 10 inches in diameter and 45 feet tall provides a value of $69 a year in benefits such as reduced storm water runoff, reduced electrical usage, oxygen provided during sunlight, carbon dioxide sequestering and increased property values. This value increases each year as the tree grows.
The species determines how well a tree perform these functions. You can find out how your tree measures up by using an estimator. This estimator easily can be found online at www.americanforests.org. This site will ask for the zip code, type and size of the tree.
Q: We think we have seen bats flying in the early evening. How do you distinguish a bat from a bird? What do bats feed on?
B, K. of Belleville
A: Bats do not soar like birds and have to continually beat their wings, which is about 15 strokes per second at the rate of 10 miles per hour. They also fly erratically to follow insects or to dart in and around foliage of the trees.
They commonly feed on beetles, flies, mosquitoes, caddis flies, winged ants, and moths. Bats feed on one insect every few seconds and eat one-half their body weight (about one-tenth to one-fifth of an ounce) in a night. They usually fly between one and two hours and then go back to roost. In spring, the Indiana brown bat uses the undersides of loose bark of a shagbark hickory tree as a nursey to raise its young instead of caves, and can shut down construction if they are present. This year, with the mosquitoes carrying viruses, bats could be a great ally to reduce these populations.
Charles Giedeman is a local contributing writer. Send your gardening questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do it now
- Be ready for bagworms to develop on evergreens, and remove the old bags because the females have laid eggs in them and they are hatching at this time.
- Prune flowering trees and shrubs as soon as they have finished blooming.
- Move indoor plants outside but be careful to place them in a shaded area because they will “sunburn” in direct sunlight.
- Apply a herbicide to control broad-leaved weeds in the lawn, but be careful around vegetable gardens and flower beds.