Monday, July 25, 2011

More Spray Tips and Sprayer Maintenance

Last week’s article about me using blue spray dye as an indicator of where I had sprayed (if you missed the article, you can access by going to under the Horticulture Hotline section), resulted in several phone calls to me from various people. The basic conversation centered around the fact that they hated using the dye because it got all over their pants (legs if they were wearing shorts), socks, shoes, and hands if they were adjusting their spray nozzle tip.

For some reason I do not think that getting the dye on themselves was equating to getting chemical on their person or clothing. After a little ”splaining” (Ricky Ricardo, or if you are younger, George Lopez lingo), I believe the light bulb came on that the dye was part of the chemical solution and it was good to know where the solution was going. If you are wearing shorts on a windy day, and your ankles and socks are blue, you might want to rinse them off.

The dye alone can get on you while you are mixing, or in some cases it seems like just walking by a sealed container. The dye is extremely concentrated. If you try to rinse off a driveway that you have spilled some on, plan to be there a while. A quart of pond dye (similar dye just more concentrated) that we sell will turn a whole acre of water several feet deep a dark blue.

Sunlight breaks down the dye over a short period of time (photo degrades) and water rinses it off. In some cases, it is good to know where you have sprayed, and in other situations, it might be better not to know.

When I finish spraying anything from SeaHume to Messenger or a Roundup type product, I always rinse the sprayer with clean water and run water through the trigger part and out the end of the wand. I add a little Possum’s Tank Cleaner and triple rinse it again being sure to run water through the trigger assembly and wand. I then add clean water and run it through the trigger assembly and leave the sprayer with clean water throughout it.

I have never read a manufacturer’s directions on storing your sprayer “wet” like this; however, I have two sprayers that are turning 20 years old this year and I have never replaced a seal, gasket, or O-ring and they do not leak. My theory is if you store them dry the seals, gaskets, and O-rings dry out and the sprayer starts to leak.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Spray Tips

If your animal had fleas and you tried to control them over the past two weeks, hopefully, you are seeing a reduction in the flea population by now.

2011 has been a very busy so far. Drought, record heat, three stores, chinch bugs in April, new product lines, soil tests and custom programs have all kept me very busy. This past weekend (mid - July) I finally took a minute to look at a soil test for my own yard (dated April 25). I guess it is that barefoot shoe cobbler scenario.

The first thing to jump out at me was the fact that I needed 45 pounds of Calcium Lime (most lime used around here is Magnesium based lime or Dolomitic Lime) per 1000 square feet. Seeing as most products go out at 3 to 5 pounds per 1000 square feet, 45 pounds per 1000 square feet is a significant amount.

I definitely need to know the size of my yard, so I know how many bags to pick up and apply. Lucky for me, I have these measurements; however, since I am not going by one of the stores, I’m going to spray some weed killer instead.

The last time I sprayed weed killer in my beds, I made the “rookie” mistake of not starting by the front door. I ran out of my tank of weed killer and time to spray with a small area left in the most visible part of my front yard - by my front door. “Rookie” mistake!

When I spray, I always use blue spray dye. You mix the dye in with whatever you are spraying, so whatever you spray turns blue. The dye shows you where you have sprayed. If you have to stop spraying for some reason, you will know where to start back. If you are spraying weed killer and accidently spray a desirable plant, you can stop and prune the leaves off before the plant translocates the herbicide.

Most importantly, if you spray any on yourself, you will know to wash the product off of yourself pronto. The dye also helps you identify leaks in your sprayer. People that use leaking backpack sprayers with dye know all about “Smurf back.”

Is your dog’s urine killing your grass? Try a new product we brought in from Australia called Dog Rocks. We have tested this product for years and found it to be an effective and inexpensive way to deal with this issue.

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fleas 2 of 2

Continuing from last week’s fleas, fleas, fleas…..

Professional pest managers will always do a great job at controlling fleas because they are professionals and they do this for a living. Since fleas are in so many different life cycles, give the exterminator at least two weeks for their product to work. As mentioned last week, the flea population are in several different life cycles at any given time. Adult fleas only account for about 2% of the population, the rest are in the egg, larva and pupae stage.

When treating fleas, it is good to treat your animal, your house and your yard. This three-prong attack gives you the best results.

If you are a “do it yourselfer” there are a few products that can make a difficult job easy.

Fleas can be controlled by starting with your animal. There are two very safe products that cost less than 13.00 dollars that you can apply directly to you animal. Flea and Tick Spray and Bio Spot kill adult fleas and have a growth regulator to prevent young fleas from becoming adults.

Ultracide should be sprayed inside your house. As mentioned last week, it is important to vacuum your house daily when you are trying to control fleas. If your vacuum has a bag, you want to remove it and put it in a plastic bag, and put it in the trash can outside after each vacuum. Ultracide will kill the biting fleas and has a growth regulator that will prevent the treated population from maturing into reproducing, biting adult fleas.

Since I am cheap, I usually limit my spraying of the house to a few key areas where my dog hangs out. Remember from last week, when a dog gets up from a nap and shakes, he is shaking eggs off of his body. I concentrate my spraying in and around those areas where he usually naps. A can of Ultracide can last several seasons with this method.

Outside use Lebanon Insect Control in the yard. Be sure to treat mulched areas because the larvae live in moist wet areas. This product will knock down the adult flea population. Lebanon Insect Control will also control chiggers, ticks, chinch bugs, grubs, mole crickets, fire ants and many other pests.

Nylar is a growth regulator that will prevent the fleas from becoming reproducing adults. Be sure to spray the Nylar in your beds. Nylar is a great product outside because the sun doesn’t break it down like some growth regulators (Precor). Nylar can be used indoors as well. Nylar is an insect hormone that can be sprayed around mammals, reptiles, birds, you, your pets and children. Nylar also controls roaches and mosquitoes as a bonus.

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

Bill Lamson-Scribner can be reached during the week at Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply. Possum’s has three locations 481 Long Point Rd in Mt. Pleasant (971-9601), 3325 Business Circle in North Charleston (760-2600), or 606 Dupont Rd, in Charleston (766-1511). Bring your questions to a Possum’s location, or visit us at You can also call in your questions to “ The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA (The Big Talker). The Horticulture Hotline is available 24 / 7 at

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fleas 1 of 2

Horticulture Hotline 07/01/11

Bill Lamson-Scribner

Fleas have been particularly bad this year. Fleas are hard to control because they have a wide range of hosts and their life cycles are designed for survival. Although there are 2400 different species of fleas, the one we are most concerned with is the cat flea.

The flea that primarily attacks the dog is called the cat flea. This flea attacks dogs, cats, and several other wild hosts including rodents, rabbits, squirrels, skunks and yes, the opossum! They will also attack humans as well. As you treat your yard, your dog, and your house you need to realize that these other animals can re-infest your yard.

A flea can go from the egg stage to the adult stage in anywhere from a few weeks to several months (even over 1 year). This life cycle helps ensure their survival. The flea will wait in the pupae stage, and emerge as an adult when the conditions are favorable for the survival of the adult.

The flea lays eggs on its host. These eggs are not attached to the host so they are constantly falling off. When a dog gets up from a nap and shakes, the dog is shaking the eggs off of his body. The egg then becomes a larva.

The larva can live on the dog or larva also live under grass, soil, mulch or other organic matter. Larva are very susceptible to heat and desiccation so they usually stay in shady moist areas of the yard. Treating your flower beds is very important. You may see the adults out in the middle of your yard, but they are coming from your mulch beds where it is shady and moist.

After the larva stage, the flea develops into a pupa. This pupae stage is what makes the flea so hard to control. The pupa is made out of a silk like cocoon that protects the flea. This cocoon is very sticky when first developed and dust and other debris stick to it making it very hard to detect. If someone moves out of an apartment that had a dog with fleas, the apartment could be closed for months. When the new tenants open the door and walk in, the adult flea will emerge from the pupae stage and begin biting the person who has entered. These pupae respond to vibration, so it is good vacuum when trying to control fleas. Vacuuming removes fleas and the vibration from the vacuuming brings the flea out of the pupae stage and into the adult stage.

All these factors make the flea very hard to control. When using control products there are several different products to use. Some products are used inside, some outside and some on the animal. A pest management professional is always a good option when dealing with fleas. Next week I will write about several different control products. In the meantime wash your animal with a flea shampoo, spray the dog with Petcor, use Ultracide inside the house, spread Lebanon Insect Control in the yard and spray the yard with Nyguard.

Since it takes about two weeks to control fleas, it will also take me two weeks to write about controlling fleas!