Global Warming/Climate Change Equals More Bugs

Listening to public radio is so interesting. I’m always learning something new. We used to listen to NPR on the way to school every morning growing up so now I think of it as news masquerading as story time. I don’t know how many times a day I start a story with, “I was listening to the radio and I heard…”

Well, let me tell you a story about a story I heard. If you’ve been following along, you know I hate bugs. According to the “Plant Doctor” Melinda Myers, who was on Charlotte Talks recently, our unnaturally warm winter is going to result in more bugs bothering us than normal. Stupid global warming/climate change!

I didn’t hear the whole conversation so I don’t know exactly why there would be more bugs than usual, but I’m assuming they just have more time to wake up and multiply. Having never gardened before, I don’t know what’s normal for populations of bugs, but when she advised us to “grab the bugs early before they multiply into the hundreds,” I have to admit I got more than just a little freaked out. By the way, she really meant “grab” the bugs. Like, with your hands.

An example of my psychological problem with bugs: just a minute ago, I moved my foot and some fuzz from my slippers ended up on my lap. I almost jumped out of my skin thinking it was a bug! A fuzzy red bug, spawned from my shedding slippers. I need an intervention.

With “hundreds” of bugs to deal with this summer (Sacre Bleu! Invaders!) a question remains: will I be able to conquer my fear and save my darling plants?

Who will save me?

Plant Zones Moving North, Charlotte NC Just Barely Remains in Zone 7b

One of my first steps before planning my garden is to determine my city’s plant/gardening zone so I know what plants and vegetables are mostly likely to survive on my deck. Unfortunately, the Department of Agriculture website and zone map doesn’t take into account my likely irresponsibility, whining, and fear of bugs–this is strictly a map of temperatures.

The big news is that the gardening map was redrawn for the first time since 1990 and on the new map many areas are now in warmer zones reflecting warmer average lows and earlier springs. Charlotte, NC is still in zone 7b (low 5-10°F) but it is right on the border of zone 8a (10-15°F) and this winter the Queen City has been masquerading as a 10a (30-35°F). Not that I’m complaining about the warm winter, but just choose a zone and stay in it already.

An aside: All this talk of winter makes me remember summer. I really don’t know how I will survive gardening in the middle of the summer. I might die. I really might.

The other interesting part of this map is that it actually factors in global climate change (obviously), pollution sources and plant stressors like acid rain, and all the advances in plant technology, of which I am ill-informed.

You can find your gardening zone and the gardening zones of your friends by visiting this link:
http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

I suggest spending some time learning about the various zones and then using your obscure knowledge to greet your long-distance friends and family with, “Wow, yeah, the weather’s been brutal in zone 6a this winter, you must really be wishing you live in zone 10b right about now.” Or, “You know, it’s been pretty mild in zone 7b until our zone decided to act like a 4b. Yuck.”