Although they look bright and strong when growing well, peonies can be susceptible to viruses, pests such as the grubs of the swift moth
, and peony wilt that can destroy new shoots.
In this first field experiment of the season, Wagner, an assistant research professor in the Plant and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Vermont (UVM), hoped his antifreeze cocktails and carrot bait would trap larvae of the conifer swift moth. The larvae were supposed to stumble along and fall into the cups, where they would be killed and preserved by the antifreeze.
Wagner and his colleagues find the conifer swift moth living in forests ranging from the highest peaks of the southern Appalachians north to Labrador and west to Alberta, including all areas where foresters have identified red spruce as declining.