Monday, July 16, 2018

Sweetgrass, Mosquitoes, and Varmints

Horticulture Hotline 07/16/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Driving around the Lowcountry, I have noticed a huge amount bark shredding off of the Crepe Myrtle trees. “The Super Garden Hero”, Paul Mulkey mentioned the same thing on the “Garden Clinic” last Saturday. Seeing this shredded bark means one thing, the tree is growing and getting larger in circumference. Like me when I have to go up in pants size, except for the tree it’s a good thing – for me it’s not such a good thing.

With all the growth on Crepe Myrtles and other trees, I’m seeing a lot of limbs rubbing on the trim and roofs of houses. Rubbing limbs will take the paint off of your trim causing the wood to rot. These limbs can also provide a bridge for squirrels, rats, raccoons and other varmints. At Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply we sell products to people that remove wildlife from houses, and a little pruning can go a long way to prevent a lot of damage – be pro-active and save the damage. Since hurricane season is upon us, having your trees inspected by a professional is a good idea.

Sweetgrass is getting attacked by its nemesis the mealybug. Mealybugs look like cotton candy or thick cobwebs growing on the blades of your sweeetgras. Get it under control quickly or the secondary problem, black sooty mold, will turn your plant black. Insecticidal Soap to knock it down and a systemic drench (Dominion, Safari) will keep the mealybug away. If you want more information, google ‘sweetgrass mealybug’ and the top google hit nationwide will be a “Horticulture Hotline” from 7/13/10 that appeared in the Moultrie News.

If you have been outside, I image you have noticed the dreaded mosquito. Time to scout  around the yard for anything that holds water. Old tires, saucers under potted plants, bird baths, old flower containers or pots stacked in a corner, dog toys, kids toys, a container by the grill you use to soak wood chips in, a cooler, an old fountain, an upside down 5 gallon bucket that has a lip that holds water, a trash can lid with a dent, brick work that needs repointing, a hole in a tree and a dogs water bowl all make great places for mosquitoes to breed. Empty the water out these areas (refill the dog bowl and the bird bath daily). A tarp covering a boat or wood pile can have many pockets that hold water. Sagging gutters hold water.  A few empty bottles or cans can end up being thousands of mosquitoes! A bottle cap can be a breeding area. Many mosquitoes can breed in just an ounce of water. I was at a seminar and the speaker was encouraging people to limb up Magnolias (every horticulturalist gasped) so you could easily rake up the leaves because the big leaves held water and therefore were a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

I have been licensed to kill mosquitoes on a large scale since the late 1980’s. On Hilton Head Island, I fogged for mosquitoes on golf courses and in the plantations in the middle of the night. The herds of deer were amazing! I had to treat stagnant water in ditches and in ponds (can you say snakes, alligators and spider) as well. I guess it is a mosquito ‘geek’ thing I have about locating different breeding sites.

Armyworms, fleas, chinch bugs, and fire ants are out in full force. Roaches and other uninvited guest seem to be coming inside to the a/c to get out of the heat.

Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law.