Monday, September 21, 2020

Pest Management Professional and Labor Day


Horticulture Hotline 09/21/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Two weeks ago, was Labor Day. Last week, I wrote about a very few situations that landscapers face doing their job. If you missed last week’s article, you can go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab, and it will be there for you. This week, some of the Pest Management Professionals (PMP) situations are told.  


Let’s just go straight to the crawl space of your house. Is it a belly crawl? Is it an on your knees crawl? Is it wet? Does duct work hang low though out the crawl space? Is the duct work sweating, causing the insulation to hang down? Is your crawl space dark? Are you just a little claustrophobic?


Why is the PMP in you crawl space? Maybe an annual termite check to keep your termite bond up to date. The PMP might have been under your house every year for 5 years – pretty routine; however, this year he is crawling along on his belly and looks up to see something else that crawls around on its belly – a rattlesnake! The PMP can’t jump up and run, and he still has a job to do. What would you do?


During these same inspections in the dark with a flashlight and / or miners light, the PMP could see rats, spiders, raccoons, possums and mice. The PMP might have to crawl though the feces and dried urine of any of these critters. Yuck!


The crawl space is a treasure chest of stories. I remember the time a lady was having flea issues in her house and she didn’t have any pets. In the crawl space was a family of the beloved possum complete with fleas. Possum’s hiss and show their teeth when getting evicted from a nice cool crawl space, and the PMP is looking at them eye to eye. A snake that has been feeding on mice and rats hanging out on a beam above you can be a little unsettling. These snakes might not be poisonous, but they are BIG!


How about the HOT attic? Squirrels, rats and bats seem to be the most common uninvited guest. Crawling around a 120 plus degree attic does not sound fun. The story I have probably heard the most is the PMP getting rained on with roaches while treating a trailer house.


The PMP that treats apartment complexes that are ‘key accounts,” where you knock on the door and if no one answers you let yourself in to inspect and treat the area, has generated many stories and life and death situations – mostly human situations. Seeing drugs and drug paraphernalia is common. Naked people or people in various stages of undress can be uncomfortable. Waking someone up that was working or partying late, might result in a gun being pulled on you. Bags of nasty trash with diapers and rats eating out of them is always a good way to start the day.


There are a lot more situations than there are column inches. I hope the PMP’s had a great Labor Day!


Army worms, sod webworms, preemergent for winter weeds, and winterizing your lawn and shrubs are key right now!



Monday, September 14, 2020

Labor Day


Horticulture Hotline 09/14/2020

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Last Monday was Labor Day. I took a little time to think about the customers that I work with at Possum’s and the stories that I heard over the years as well as some of my own experiences.


Here is how the U. S. Department of Labor describes the beginning of Labor Day:

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.


Since this is the Horticulture Hotline, lets start with the landscaper. Can you imagine working in the yard – outside, in this heat – for forty plus hours a week. By 7 am your pants, socks and shirt are soaked with sweat. Wearing long sleeves to help protect themselves from the sun, the landscaper throughout the day might have a forty-pound backpack sprayer on their back spraying for weeds, a twenty-pound blower on their back-blowing leaves or a twelve-pound trimmer in their hands. The heat now, the cold in the winter. When you get home at night after being on the cusp of dehydration all day, all you want to do is take a shower, air dry, eat fruit or salad and get ready to do it again the next morning.


Landscapers also run into “things” in the landscape. Pruning bushes, they could see a snake looking back at them or disturb a nest of wasps. Running a string trimmer down a fence line on a property they just started to manage, the landscaper might hit that hidden fire ant mound and sling ants all over their pants. All the sudden the fire ant releases its attack pheromone and the ants begin biting.


Poison ivy was one of itchy hazards of the job. I think I had chiggers, red bugs, or ticks on me for two years straight. I was lucky I never got lyme disease or any of the other diseases tick carry. Having my girlfriend paint nail polish on my chigger bites was a nightly chore and not very effective. The enzymes the chigger released would still cause itching.


Then there was the time I got bit by a brown recluse spider and I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t hold the hospital liable if the enzymes that the spider injected in my finger caused it to rot or fall off of my hand. The big fields at the Navy base that we would mow once a month had the nastiest, biggest and meanest mosquitoes hiding in the tall grass. When Wild Dunes was being developed in the early 1980’s, there were some big mosquitoes there as well. One of my worst days at Wild Dunes was planting 174 Spanish Bayonet Yuccas – prick marks all over my arms and nightmares as well. Lifting palm trees into areas without equipment access was always fun.


Many landscapers cannot even take off Labor Day because they are required to do weekly maintenance – what a shame. For the rest of you landscapers, I hope you enjoyed your Labor Day!


Monday, August 31, 2020

In Europe, They Eat It. Any Guesses?

Horticulture Hotline 08/31/20

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Although it is still 100 degrees in the Lowcountry, it is already time to begin to think about your fall / winter plans around the yard. In just a couple of weeks, football (?), volleyball (?), deer season, oyster eating, shrimp baiting will begin indicating another fall in the Lowcountry. As the daylight hours are getting shorter, those cooler temperatures we have been hoping for are right around the corner.  


The rainfall this year has been really crazy. It seems like it was no rain at all or 4 inches at once. These heavy rains tend to flush out the fertilizer that you might have spread on the yard. While driving around, I’m seeing a lot of hungry trees, shrubs and turf. Feed your landscape one last time, so the trees, turf and shrubs go into the winter with a full belly. Watch out for fire ants that the rains have flushed up and if you have a ditch, might have moved (floated) into your yard.


If you have had a history of Florida Betony in your beds or turf, this would be a great year to try using Dimension in your yard. Although not labeled for Florida Betony (and you know I’m a big believer in reading and following product label), many landscapers, homeowners, and myself have witnessed a huge reduction in the Florida Betony population when using this product.


If you have Florida Betony, it is definitely worth a try. I worked with the manufacturer of the product, Dow AgroSciences, over 20 years ago to get Florida Betony added to the label; however, with the costs testing a product and of adding a weed to a label with the EPA, I do not see them adding it in the near future. Some of the formulations of Dimension have already gone generic, so I doubt they will be investing much money into labeling of new weed species when they could spend that money on developing new products. In the test plots I did, the reduction of Florida Betony was significant. If these field trails were converted into a label, many people in the Lowcountry would have benefitted.


David Teas and I were just talking about Florida Betony after Hugo on the radio Saturday morning (The Garden Clinic / WTMA / noon to 1 pm). Don’t wait, now is the time to get that fall preemergent product out on the yard.


Since the trees, shrubs, and turf are all hungry, this would be a great time to try 15-00-15, or 23-00-08 with Dimension on your yard whether you have Florida Betony or not. This product is labeled to control many weeds including the popular weeds (annual bluegrass, henbit, bittercress, chickweed, Carolina geranium, and many more). Follow up with a 00-00-07 in 8 to 10 weeks.


If you are going to apply ryegrass to your turf, you can add a preemergent product now and wait until the label says you can apply the rye. Having a good level of preemerge in your beds should prevent the rye from taking over your shrubs.


Rates and timing are critical with these applications, so always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.


Late summer weeds, disease on turf, mushrooms, mosquitoes, transplanting, planning for fall planting (vegetable garden and trees, ornamentals, bulbs and flower beds), soil testing, army worms, sod web worms, chinch bugs, fall pruning, fall organics…