May 27, 2018

HOME & GARDEN: The good, the bad and the ugly: Beneficial bugs for your garden

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

A larval ladybug feeds on aphids. Professor Margaret Skinner suggests getting to know what beneficial bugs look like in both larval and adult forms. (Courtesy photo by Cheryl Frank)

Spring is here, and that means more time in the garden, fresh flowers, warm days—and bugs.

But not all of them are bad. Margaret Skinner, a University of Vermont research professor and extension entomologist, said to take a wider view. It’s all about learning to live with a balance of bugs—they all have a place, she said. Bugs provide two-thirds of the diet of birds and freshwater fish. Plus, they eat a wide range of other bugs, keeping pests at bay.

Here are some of the top bugs Skinner suggests you share your garden with.

Bees. The kings of garden insects. Honeybees and bumblebees pollinate tirelessly as they buzz around in search of nectar. We need them—one third of our food comes from animal-pollinated crops, and honeybees do the majority of that pollinating. Bees are easy to attract, all you need are pollen- and nectar-producing flowers.

Hoverflies. These small brown and yellow striped bugs, named because they hover in one place, are also excellent pollinators. As an added bonus, in their larval stage they feed on aphids and other vegetable-eating bugs.

Ladybugs. More properly classified as lady beetles, these brightly colored insects feed on garden pests, eating hundreds of aphids in their lifetimes.

Spiders. Creepy, yes. But spiders eat thousands of other insects, especially the nasty, biting variety.

Wasps. There are several species of wasps, but all of them are predators. The larger, stinging wasps eat caterpillars and other insects. Tiny parasitic wasps kill aphids, laying their eggs inside them. As long as they’re not too close to the garden (or in your house), leave them alone. In the words of an old preschool song, “If you don’t bother them, then they won’t bother you.”

Butterflies. If bees are the kings, then butterflies are most certainly the queens of the garden. Along with adding pops of color to the garden, they pollinate plants as they flit from flower to flower, albeit not as well as bees.

Lacewings. These long-bodied bugs with large wings, often green or brown, feed on aphids and other small pests.

Plenty of other bugs are general predators, meaning they munch on other insects but don’t necessarily distinguish between beneficial bugs and pests. These include centipedes and millipedes, ground beetles, dragonflies, praying mantis and others.

Skinner also recommended looking up what bugs look like in the larval stage, as it’s often completely different from the adult form. You don’t want to squash a juvenile ladybug without realizing it!

Though all of these bugs play a valuable role in the garden, Skinner said it’s not always so straightforward. A wide variety of bugs are needed for a healthy ecosystem, and most bugs have a place in the food chain. So think twice before you spray on the insecticide—it might hurt your garden more than it helps.

Got a question about insects in your garden? Call the University of Vermont Extension Master Gardener Helpline for answers to all your gardening questions. The number is (802) 656-5421 for Chittenden County callers or (800) 639-2230 (toll-free) for the rest of the state. The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

Recipe Corner: Time-saving desserts

Now, I don’t usually use cake mixes or Bisquick, but these two desserts were just too good not to pass on to my readers who might like to try them—once in awhile.


3-2-1 Cupcakes

(a single serving that kids can make)

Blend together an angel food cake mix and any other kind of cake mix. One must be an angel food mix.

3 tablespoons cake mix

2 tablespoons water

Mix well in a measuring cup. Pour into a lightly greased 6-ounce custard cup. Bake in the microwave for 50-60 seconds. Turn out onto a serving plate. Cool. Can decorate with slices of fresh strawberries around the base of the cupcake. Add whipped cream and a sliced strawberry on top. Makes one serving.

You can be creative with fruit toppings such as canned fruit pie fillings or make your own. Drizzle chocolate sauce over cupcake and add chopped nuts. The texture is like sponge cake.


Blender Coconut Pie

This dessert was given to my family from a friend next door when I was recuperating from surgery for a new knee, and it was so good I had to ask for the recipe.

2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup Bisquick

1/2 stick butter or margarine

4 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar and

1 cup coconut (try unsweetened)

Blend all ingredients in blender at low speed. Pour into a deep 9-inch greased and floured pie dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Cool and refrigerate at least two hours. Overnight is good.


Tiramisu Treat

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

3/4 cup light cream cheese

1 tablespoon rum

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups strong brewed coffee

1 tablespoon Kahlua coffee liqueur

16 ladyfingers and

2 tablespoons cocoa

Blend with a mixer the ricotta, cream cheese, rum and sugar until smooth. Combine coffee and Kahlua in a shallow bowl. Dip half of each ladyfinger into the mix and lay on the bottom of an 8×8- or 9×9-inch serving dish. Be careful not to soak ladyfingers. Spread half of the cream cheese mix on top and repeat another layer of ladyfingers and cream cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refridgerator for 6 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, sprinkle cocoa on top and cut into squares. Makes 8 servings with 210 calories each.


Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.

CVU Sports Schedule (May 24-30)

Baseball and Softball

Thursday: at Colchester High, 4:30 p.m.

Friday: at Middlebury Union, 4;30 p.m.

End regular season


Thursday: NVAC Championships at Kwiniaska, 10 a.m.

Wednesday: Northern Sectionals at Lang Farm, 11:30 a.m.

Boys Lacrosse

Friday: at Essex High, 7 p.m.

End regular season

Girls lacrosse

Friday: at Middlebury Union, 4 p.m.

End regular season

Boys and Girls Tennis

Division playoffs to be announced

Track and Field

Saturday: Essex Invitational, all day


Schedules subject to change

CVU baseball team in hunt for top seed

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

Pitching, fielding and a timely big bop earned the Champlain Valley Union High baseball team a big step toward the top seed in the upcoming Div. 1 playoffs.

After putting away a 3-0 home victory over now 12-3 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans, Coach Tim Albertson and his 13-1 Redhawks had a Thursday session at 9-4 (entering the week) Colchester High and a Friday makeup at Middlebury Union remaining in the regular season.

Tuesday’s pitching came from senior Curt Echo, who quieted BFA bats with a five-hit zip job, throwing an exceptionally efficient 67 pitches in a complete game masterpiece.

“Curt pitched very well,” said Albertson of the right-hander, one of 11 seniors honored in the regular season’s final home game.

“We knew they (BFA) liked to swing early, so we had that in mind,” said Echo, who mixed pitches and locations well. He was on the plate, getting to a three-ball count only once, while walking none and whiffing five.

The fielding was solid, with two meaningless miscues. Shortstop Drew Nick best lived up to the description of a fine infielder: “He plays well in the dirt.” Nick played very well in the dirt, with four assists, two putouts and the start of a key double play.

The major smash with the bat came from The Big Deep, first baseman Davis Mikell, who crushed a 1-1 pitch over the fence in the right field corner in the bottom of the first inning, after Tucker Kohlasch started proceedings with a single and scored on a wild pitch.

It was Mikell’s second deep, deep shot of the week. He unloaded a grand slam jolt in the bottom of the first inning on visiting South Burlington High on Thursday, helping the Redhawks to a 12-3 victory.

BFA’s righty starter Darren Callen held the ‘Hawks to but four hits and fanned nine while throwing 99 pitches in a solid performance. CVU’s third run came in the bottom of the sixth. Tim Jones led off with a single down the left field line, went to second as Nick walked, took third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch.

On Saturday, junior Dylan Ireland picked up his second win of the campaign, going six innings in a 4-1 triumph at Milton High. Ireland allowed but three hits, while Kohlash produced the big blow, a two-run double.

Nick got the pitching win Friday, with relief help from Ryan Fleming and Mikell in a 7-3 home victory over Missisquoi Valley Union High. Kohlasch unloaded a big three-run triple, while Jeff Badger socked an RBI three-bagger and Fleming a double.

CVU girls LAX team positioning for playoffs

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

After polishing off visiting Montpelier High 17-3 on Monday at the Hinesburg nest, the Champlain Valley Union High girls lacrosse team had just two games remaining to add more luster to a nifty 8-4 mark.

The Redhawks finish on the road at  5-9 Mount Mansfield Union on Wednesday (after Observer press time) and on Friday at mighty Middlebury Union

High. “We have a chance to get the third seed,” said CVU coach Erin Malone following Monday’s victory. High seeds mean home playoff games.

Kevin Riell, CVU athletic director, agreed, adding that southern teams Brattleboro Union and Rutland High are also in the mix for seeds three through five behind Middlebury and South Burlington High, likely to be the top two.

It did not take long for the ambitious Redhawks to claw their way to an overwhelming lead against the Solons.

CVU logged nine goals in the opening five minutes and two seconds with Abby Owens, Jessica Dudley and Brenna Gorman (twice each), Kate Raszka, Michaela Kiley and Caelin Weiss all scoring.

Montpelier did not cross midfield with the ball until seven minutes had passed.

CVU led 12-1 at the half and eased through the final 25 minutes.

Owens finished with four goals, while Dudley and Weiss each totaled three. Bridget Moore popped in a pair of tallies and Emily Spencer got one.

Michaela Gobille had four saves in the CVU cage.

A big home win for the Hawks came Friday when they nudged past Essex 14-13. The winning goal was planted by Kiley, which put the Hawks up 14-12 before Essex got a late score.

Raszka finished with a big six-goal day, while Kiley had three.

Sports Roundup

CVU track and field team set for Essex Invitational

The road to the state and New England competitions begins Saturday for Champlain Valley Union High track and field athletes at the annual Essex Invitational, which serves as a qualifier for the New Englands.

The State Championship meet comes up a week later at Burlington High.

Several CVU stars appear set for solid finishes at Essex.

On the girls side, based on performances earlier this month at the respected Burlington Invitational, the 4×800 relay team of Aleksey Jordick, Autumn Eastman, Taylor Spillane and Claire Trotter made an impressive first-place statement.

The 4×400 relay team (Abigail Eddy, Eliza Giles, Haliana Burhans and Tessa Tomasi) came in second.

Other promising performers were Spillane, 3,000-meter run; Isabelle Unger, 300-meter hurdles; Sara Lewis, pole vault; Brianna Hake, javelin and Ellie Blake, 400-meter run.

On the boys side, Roshi Brooklyn (hurdles), Shane Haley (high jump), Thomas Keller (long jump), Matt Baurer (triple jump) and Cody Putre (pole vault) are among hopefuls to advance to the New Englands, which takes the top six finishers in each event.

The future outlook was on display at a South Burlington High freshman meet this past Saturday as CVU girls captured four victories. Winners were Emma Bray (100 hurdles), Kate Burke (300 hurdles), Maddie Tieso (high jump) and the 4×800 relay team.

Devon Cantor’s runner-up finish in the pole vault paced the CVU freshman boys.


Playoffs next for CVU tennis teams

Josh Huber contributes to CVU’s win against MMU.

As the calendar turned into midweek, Champlain Valley Union High’s girls and boys tennis teams were awaiting Vermont Principals’ Association pairings for both individual and team tournaments.

Coach Amy deGroot’s girls put the final touches on an undefeated (14-0) and probable top team playoff seeding with a 7-0 popping of Mount Mansfield Union High on Monday in Jericho.

Frank Babbott’s boys team finished 7-7 with a 7-0 victory Monday over Mount Mansfield at the Redhawks’ home Shelburne courts.

Boys individual winners were Liam Kelley, Henri St. Pierre, Joey O’Brien, David Keyes and Conor Mcquiston. Doubles were won by the duos of Asa Cloutier-Brad Barth and Chris Vecchio-Josh Huber.

Girls individual triumphs went to Anna Clare Smith, Emily Polhemus, Claire Stoner, Andrea Joseph and Evelyn Mitchell. Mackenzie Buckman-Leah Epstein and Becca Daniels-Andrea Young teams took doubles.


Boys Lacrosse

Under the lights at South Burlington High on Tuesday night, the 12-2 Rebels boys lacrosse team had all the moves, popping the 11-4 Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks 15-7.

It was South Burlington’s second win over CVU.

Christian Goulette had a pair of scores for the ‘Hawks, who were outshot 29-22 by the Rebels.



Jack Tomashot fired a 72 to grab medalist honors, as the CVU golf team bumped off Essex High 325-395 on Tuesday at Cedar Knoll.

Peter Scrimgeour (80), Carter Knox (81), Todd Forester (92) and Ted Hadley (95) completed the Redhawks’ victory.



The Champlain Valley Union High softball team fell 1-13 on Tuesday as a mighty 14-1 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans combine rolled to a 27-3 win at the Hinesburg field.

Leah Lister singled home one of the CVU runs.

—Mal Boright

CVU boys lacrosse team hoping for strong finish

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

It’s a moonlight finish to the regular season for the defending Div. 1 lacrosse champion Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks, as they close out the regular season with night games Tuesday and Friday at strong South Burlington High and Essex High.

Essex, which appears likely to capture the top playoff seed, also has a one-goal lead in the two-game total score competition for the “Bucket,” an old helmet once worn by CVU head coach Dave Trevithick. The Hornets nipped CVU 9-8 earlier in the campaign.

The ‘Hawks hiked their season mark to 11-3 Saturday morning, ripping visiting 5-8 Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans 17-6 on a sun-drenched Hinesburg field.

Chris ‘The Netfinder” Bulla snapped home four first period scores in leading CVU to a 7-1 lead in the first 12 minutes. BFA was never in contention as the Redhawks spurted to a 12-3 advantage by halftime and 16-4 going into the closing reel.

“We are getting our offense together,” said Bulla after the game. He finished with six goals, while attackmate Christian Goulette popped in five and Alex Bulla scored three, while adding two assists.

Quinn Kropf, Hoyt McCuin and Riley Prom also scored.

Chris Bulla and Trevithick gave high praise to the face-off winning abilities of Steele Dubrul and Alex Bulla.

“That is really important, to get those face-offs,” said Bulla.

And on this day, CVU won most of them, thereby denying BFA possession of the ball time and again.

Will Fay and Owen Hudson divided time in the net, combining for eight stops.

CVU got its first taste of night work last Thursday with a 16-9 triumph at Burlington High, as Chris Bulla knocked in four goals. Goulette, Kropf and Dubrul copped two goals apiece and Alex Bulla added one, plus three assists.

Vermont Soldiers’ Angels planning ‘Sale-a-bration Market’ in Essex Junction

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Soldier Eric Dion and his dog, Annie, are reunited after nine months of separation, during which time Terri Sabens and Jim Daignault fostered Annie.

A 2004 study conducted by the U.S. Army found that 1 in 8 soldiers returning from combat zones reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The study also revealed that less than half of those soldiers sought help for PTSD-related problems.

On the theory that even the most battle-hardened soldier can use a support system, military mother Patti Patton-Bader founded the nonprofit organization Soldiers’ Angels in 2003. With the slogan, “May No Soldier Go Unloved,” Soldiers’ Angels supports the troops by sending letters and care packages overseas and assisting returning soldiers with the adjustment to civilian life.

Soldiers’ Angels has local teams around the country, including Vermont Soldiers’ Angels, which is spearheaded by Barb Greck and Terri Sabens.

Greck and Sabens are currently planning a “Sale-a-bration Market,” to be held Saturday, June 9, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Five Corners in Essex Junction. Sabens described it as a flea market concept, in which any type of vendor is welcome to rent booth space for $30, with proceeds from the booth rentals to benefit Vermont Soldiers’ Angels.

Past initiatives organized by Vermont Soldiers’ Angels have included transitioning soldiers from veterans’ homes to their own residences, fostering pets while soldiers are deployed overseas and surprising local veterans with Dunkin’ Donuts gift cards.

Greck, a Williston resident, said she got involved with the group after she supported a local soldier following the Gulf War. She said the relationships she has forged with soldiers have been the most rewarding part for her.

“I really like meeting people associated with this whole effort. I love to meet people at the (Vermont National) Guard and the people that we write to. I love my adopted soldiers. I write them every week,” said Greck. “Nothing is more fun than to surprise a soldier in uniform with a Dunkin’ Donuts card, just to say thank you for your service.”

Sabens has worked closely with Lucy’s House for the Prevention of Homeless Pets in Essex Junction to provide animal companionship for veterans.

“One thing I’m working on is making sure our soldiers and veterans who have been injured can have pets where they live,” Sabens said.

Sabens added that she’s working hard to make sure the “Sale-a-bration” event takes place. She said only a handful of vendors have committed thus far, and they will be forced to postpone the event if they don’t sell 20 booths by June 2.

For more information about the “Sale-a-bration Market” or general inquiries about Vermont Soldiers’ Angels, contact Barb Greck at or (802) 288-9644.


Williston Farmers’ Market moves to Wednesdays

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

Williston farmers’ market opens June 6 on the Town Green.

On Wednesday, June 6—the 68th anniversary of the Allied forces’ D-Day invasion of Normandy—local vendors are set to invade the Williston Village Green for the start of the sixth annual Williston Farmers’ Market season.

The farmers’ market has been held on Saturdays for the past five years. Event organizer Christina Mead said she switched to Wednesdays this year to gird against the post-Independence Day drop in attendance.

“It seemed in the first five years, we would do really well in June, then after the Fourth of July hit attendance was down,” Mead said. “Summer is short and people aren’t around on the weekends.”

The market will be held Wednesday evenings from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and is scheduled to run from June 6 to Oct. 10. Mead pointed out that the Williston Town Band holds its summer concerts on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on the village bandstand, which she hopes will provide overlap in attendance for the two events.

Mead said she chose 4 p.m. as the starting time because it is the start of rush hour in the village, when eastbound traffic often backs up on Williston Road all the way from the four-way stop by the Williston Federated Church to the Village Green.

“We were thinking of the get-out-of-work traffic,” said Mead. “There’s a lot of traffic on that road, and that’s the prime rush hour.”

Returning vendors include the Boutin Family Farm, Ants in Your Pants Farm, Comeau Family Sugarhouse, Marsha Drake Jewelry, Leslie Trifilio Jewelry and Sunflower Soaps. Other businesses lined up for the season include Lindemann’s Totes, Jewels by Jenni, Euro Restaurant, Flavors of India, O Bread Bakery, The Squeezed Lemon, Sonia’s Salsa and Kammel Fudge.

Vendors have the option of purchasing space for $20 on a week-to-week basis, or committing to the entire season for $150.

The farmers’ market will also continue its tradition of holding youth days, in which kids are given the opportunity to sell handmade goods or locally grown produce from their own booths.

For more information about the 2012 Williston Farmers’ Market, contact Christina Mead at


June brings farmers market to Essex

By Stephanie Choate

Observer staff

Fresh produce, tasty treats and live music will be back in Essex Junction for the third season of the Five Corners Farmers’ Market.

The market is set to begin June 1, with 30 vendors, a food truck and live entertainment. It will offer local fruit and vegetables, baked goods, wine, artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, natural pork, maple products and more.

“It’s such a vibrant market,” said Nicole L’Huillier Fenton, who helps organize the weekly event. “Each market definitely has its own characteristics, and what makes ours unique is it’s a very happening place to be on a Friday afternoon and evening. It has a festival feeling.”

L’Huillier Fenton said people often end up staying at the market all evening—eating dinner, listening to the live music and stocking up on the week’s groceries.

This year, it will be even easier to buy local goodies, with the option to pay using a debit card and EBT at the market manager’s tent.

New this season, Michael Byrne of The Accidental Farmer will run the market’s first food truck, featuring grass-fed beef burgers, salads, pastas and other goods. Market-goers can also pick up dinner at one of several prepared food stands—including Indian and Caribbean flavors, European favorites and wood-fired pizza—then top the evening off with homemade ice cream or a vegan cupcake.

The market is set for every Friday until Oct. 5, from 3:30–7:30p.m. It will be held at Lincoln Place, off Railroad Avenue, with nearby parking lots designated for market use.

For more info: 

Pair of Willistonians among Fulbright recipients

By Luke Baynes

Observer staff

LEFT: Robyn Suarez. RIGHT: Cathryn Gaylord.

When Williston native Robyn Suarez was in fifth grade, she promised herself that she would learn American Sign Language so she could communicate with a boy on her soccer team.

She kept her promise.

Next January, the fluent ASL signer and recent University of Vermont graduate will head to Malaysia to teach English and study Malaysian Sign Language as part of a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship.

Suarez said the famously challenging Fulbright Program’s grant process was as advertised.

“The application process was pretty grueling,” Suarez said. “It was almost like taking on another class for the fall semester.”

UVM ASL Program Coordinator Keri Ogrizovich, who successfully lobbied for ASL’s inclusion in UVM’s core foreign language offerings in 2008, commended Suarez’s dedication.

“She’s very energetic and immersed,” Ogrizovich said through an interpreter. “She makes an effort to meet the deaf and continue to learn sign language.”

Suarez—who learned Irish Sign Language while spending a semester abroad at the National University of Ireland, Galway—said Malaysian Sign Language (called Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia in Malay) is a particularly challenging form of sign language to learn.

“What’s really interesting about Malaysian Sign Language is they have dialects in different regions of Malaysia,” Suarez said.

Before she departs for Malaysia, Suarez plans to take the Graduate Record Exam to prepare for a future teaching degree.

“I’m not sure yet what exactly I want to do as far as teaching goes, but I do know that it would be something to do with sign language,” she said.


Although she was only 17 when she began playing the bassoon, Cathryn Gaylord said it was a mid-life crisis that inspired her to find her life’s calling.

“My dad might have been going through a mid-life crisis or something, because he started taking bassoon lessons, which is what he played in high school,” laughed Gaylord about her introduction to her instrument of choice.

A classmate of Audrey Suarez (Robyn’s older sister) at Champlain Valley Union High School, Gaylord switched from baritone saxophone in her junior year and fell in love with the less popular bassoon.

“Something about the sound, and the way it vibrates and the tactile feel of it is very endearing to me,” she said.

Gaylord, who received a Master of Music degree from Mannes College of Music on May 17, has also been awarded a Fulbright-Marillonet Fellowship to train with renowned French bassoonist Philippe Hanon at the Conservatoire Hector Berlioz in Paris next year.

“There’s a huge volume of bassoon solo music that was written in France,” explained Gaylord of her preferred country of study. “My theory is we (Americans) just don’t understand the French musical style that well.”

Although Gaylord called the bassoon “an endangered instrument,” the scarcity of master bassoonists—comparable to the lack of great catchers, and their commensurate longevity, in the game of baseball—suggests that she made the right decision during her junior year at CVU.

“It’s a much smarter choice than flute or violin,” Gaylord said.