Monday, September 27, 2010

While putting out some Tirade and Grubz Out on my Mom’s lawn for the ‘Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ at dark a few days ago, I noticed many moths flying around as I pushed my spreader. These moths were the moths that lay eggs throughout the lawn. These eggs hatch into the sod webworm larva, a voracious eater of turfgrass.

The moths fly very short distances in a zigzag pattern, most noticeable at dusk. The moths fly up right from your feet like a bobwhite quail. Once they lay the eggs, they will begin to hatch in a week to ten days.

The sod webworm larva is an insatiable eater of all types of grass that we have in the Lowcountry. They like to eat at night and on cloudy days. Birds are a big predator of sod webworms, so eating under the cover of darkness, is a lot safer.

Seeing groups of birds feeding in your yard is a good indication you have sod webworms.
Another way to tell is that your yard appears to have been mowed really short; even though, you have not mowed your grass in a week. The blades of grass have been chewed, giving the turf a very ragged appearance. If you have any doubts, a soap flush of one ounce dish detergent in five gallons of water poured over a four square foot area, should bring them to the surface.

If you see sod webworms in your lawn, you want to react very quickly. These worms can do a lot of damage, fast. Bt and Spinosad are biological (organic) control products that works very well if you apply it while the worms are very young. Tirade, Sevin, and Bug Blaster will nail sod webworms if they have grown a little older.

Mole crickets, large patch, winter weeds, fire ants and sod webworms are just a few things showing up in the yard. Get them before they get you!

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

Monday, September 13, 2010

Although we still have three months before the end of the year, I am going to have to go out on a limb and give the 2010 Pest of the Year Award in the Insect Division to no other than ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug!’ Since a few weeks ago when I wrote about my thriftiness, I was reminded of a few situations by family and friends that needed to be mentioned in my column.

Armyworms were bad this year; however, they are easy to see, easy to identify the damage, and easy to kill. The chinch bug is about impossible to see (about the size of fine ground pepper), the damage can be confused between fungi, dry areas, and just dead areas and although they are easy to kill once identified, the chinch bug keeps coming back.

I was riding through a neighborhood over the weekend and ever St. Augustine grass lawn had some chinch bug damage. In the old days (Dursban, Diazinon), you could put out a product in May and pretty much control chinch bugs for the season. Now depending on the product, if you get two to three weeks control you are lucky. Most of the products work on the adults and do not affect the eggs that are waiting to hatch.

There are a lot of cases of resistance to certain control products in Florida, so be sure to rotate chemical families of your products (not just product names). Since some of our sod comes up from Florida, we will most likely experience these resistant chinch bugs before long. If you talked to some of the people I talk to, you would swear they are already here.

‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ got this designation from attacking family’s lawns during the summer while families were taking their summer vacation. The fact that this very small insect and a lot of its buddies can wipe out a beautiful yard in a very short period of time is ruthless. Hard to control weeds like bermudagrass and Virginia button weed always seem to move in on the weaken areas.

There is a fungus in the soil that controls chinch bugs. We had a wet winter, and then it got super dry. When it dried out the fungus in the soil that keeps chinch bugs in check died. When the fungus died, the chinch bugs went crazy. The reason you see chinch bugs along the road, driveway, sidewalks or in the sunniest part of the yard is because that is where the fungus dies out first. Chinch bugs rarely attack grass in the shade because the fungus keeps them in check.

Since chinch bugs attack the grass along the road, driveway, and sidewalks, when people treat for them, they often throw product on hard impermeable surfaces (roads, driveways, and sidewalks). Always be sure to sweep or blow any particles back into the grass to avoid any unwanted runoff. This particular runoff situation would be another reason to refer to this pest as ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug!’

Well, it looks like I’m about to run out of column inches, so I can only mention two items of me being the cheapest person in the world. I only had three TV channels until recently when they had that switch over and you had to get cable or use the box. I was informed that our TV too old to use the box (might have been an in-house conspiracy to get cable and a new TV). I have not purchased a shirt since the beginning of my time. All my shirts have Possum’s or a manufacturer of a product I sell name on them. I got my hunting camo’s with points from a Cabela’s card. Other shirts were presents.

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

Casual Invaders

Q) I have these insects in my bathroom that have little pinchers, and when you crush them, they smell really bad. How can I get rid of this pest?

A) When you mentioned the pinchers, I was thinking earwigs. When you mentioned the foul odor when you crushed them, I knew for sure you were talking about earwigs!

Earwigs like dead organic matter and moist areas. If you have recently mulched your beds, sometimes you will see earwigs. They are considered mainly an outdoor pest. Earwigs feed on plant material; however, they rarely eat enough to damage plants.

If you have a pest control company under contract, give them a call and they can get rid of this problem very quickly. If you would rather do it yourself, the first place to start is to check and be sure you have a 12-24 inch barrier around your house that is free of vegetation and mulch. Caulk any gaps around pipes, wires, windows, doors or any other area that might be an entry point for the earwig or any other pest (roaches, ants, etc.). Using yellow bug lights on the outside of your house will attract fewer earwigs and other insects to your house. Any wood piles, deep pile of leaves, or other areas that stay moist should be removed. If you have wood for your fire place, you can stack it above ground on metal wood holders, cinder blocks or pallets. These are all good practices to help prevent insects and to protect your house.

If these cultural practices do not take care of the problem, you may consider using a control product around the perimeter of your house and any moisture harboring areas (wood pile). There are many good products on the market that would help you control earwigs as well as other insects.

Another similar pest that we have been getting lots of calls at Possum’s about is lawn shrimp. Lawn shrimp like a humid, high moisture area to live and feed. Ground covers like Asiatic Jasmine, Ivy and other moist mulched areas are perfect places for these crustaceans to live. They feed on decaying plant and animal matter. When they enter your house or garage, lawn shrimp are seeking a better life-style; however, they usually die because there is no food for them (decaying plant and animal matter) and the air is too dry. Lawn shrimp also like the moisture from wood piles, flower pots or any other stationary object they can live underneath.

Since lawn shrimp mainly feed on decaying stuff, they are more a nuisance than anything else. If you are tired of removing them from your dwelling, you may want to remove their habitats from your entry points to your house. Those nice flower containers next to your entryway may need to go. Sealing thresholds of doorways will save on your electric bill and help keep these and other uninvited guest outside. Although there are not any chemicals labeled for the control of lawn shrimp (they are a crustacean not an insect), any good perimeter pest control product should hasten their demise as well as help with roaches and other household pests.

There are many Pest Management Professionals that can help you with these and other pests if you would rather leave it up to the professionals.

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