Monday, June 28, 2010

The hose muderer, Sucking bugs

With the strange weather we are having, the sucking bugs are coming out in big numbers.
Mites and lace bugs have sucked much valuable plant juices from our ornamental shrubs and trees, and “the nasty rascal, the chinch bug” has been fooling folks once again with its summertime reign of terror.

Before I get into the horticulture part of the article, I have to tell you a little garden story. Saturday morning, I put out some Tirade (an insecticide for chinch bugs, fleas, fire ants, roaches and many other insects) and fertilizer (a smelly concoction that is a mixture of organic fertilizer and multiple slow release fertilizers as well as iron) on my St. Augustine grass.

As I was getting ready to water in the products, I noticed my hose (a beautiful hose that is built like a tire with multiple layers, been with me for 18 years, teal green, and comes with a life time warranty) had been slashed by the dreaded lawn mower – the worst nightmare of any hose. Knowing that I had three potential suspects, all of whom would deny any such brutal, cold blooded, slashing, I came up with a story of how I hated the hose and was waiting to buy a new one. I offered a 100 dollar reward for the person that pushed the mower over my hated hose and gave me the opportunity to purchase a new hose after all these years.

All of the sudden the greedy smile like that of The Grinch came across the lips of one of my suspects, I knew who ran over my precious hose and brutally murdered the innocent watering device that had faithfully delivered water to my plants, trees, vegetables, hanging baskets and turf for so many years.

Then the na├»ve, inquisitive, yet damning question, “I get 100 bucks for running over your hose?” belted out the unsuspecting guilty party. My plan worked!!

Molted leaves on trees and plants indicate plant suckers. Azaleas and Lantana have been nailed by lace bugs. Mites have been attacking many plants including willow oaks. You can use a “beat sheet” to identify these pests. Put a white sheet of paper (a legal pad works best) between the branches and slam the foliage from above down unto the paper. Look for insects or mites running across the paper. Also look for fecal matter, egg casings, or the insect itself on the underside of the leaves.

If you have mites, use a miticide and if you have insects use an insecticide. Some insecticides kill mites; however, not all insecticides do.

“The nasty rascal, the chinch bug” is out sucking on St. Augustine lawns throughout the Lowcountry. Often confused with fungus or just a dry area, these little suckers can ruin a beautiful lawn, quick. Notorious for their summer time visits while the homeowner is enjoying a family vacation these leaches can weaken a large area and allow weeds (usually the dreaded Bermuda grass) to take over in under a week’s time.

Chinch bugs start in the hottest, driest part of the yard first, and they rapidly spread across the lawn. There are many products that will control them easily once correctly identified. A combination of Tirade and Grubz Out seems to be a one two punch that extends the length of your control. If you are planning a vacation, I strongly suggest you put out some protection before you leave town.

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