Monday, May 27, 2013

Do Your Trees Have Lice?

Here is a question I was asked the other day and several others like it over the last few weeks:

“While spraying my crepe myrtle for powdery mildew, I noticed a large group of black bugs on the bark of my tree.  None of my leaves appeared to be eaten.  When I tried to scare them away with a branch, they scattered and then regrouped back on the tree.  This group of black bugs has me worried.  This is one of my favorite trees and I do not want anything bad to happen to it.  Do you have any ideas as to what these bugs are and why they are on my tree?”

Not to worry!  It sounds like you have tree cattle or barklice (louse).  These are good guys.  The tree cattle clean the tree by eating dead organic matter and lichens (algae and moss combination) out of the bark crevices of the tree.  Even though crepe myrtles have smooth bark, there are plenty of places for the tree cattle to find food.  They are the housecleaners of the trees! Maples are another favorite tree of the tree cattle.

These are the same bugs that produce that stocking like webbing that looks like something out of a horror movie.  The webbing is tight against the bark of the tree just like a stocking.  It is found on limbs as well as trunks of trees.  The tree cattle use this webbing as protection from predators and weather. 

Tree cattle do not harm a tree.  If they are really bugging you, you could spray them with a blast of water.  I would let them clean the bark of the tree, so you do not have excessive organic debris buildup. 

At Possum’s the last few years we have been getting a lot of calls about Japanese beetles attacking crepe myrtles, roses, etc.  This beetle has always been a problem north of us in Charlotte, etc.  Now it has come down here with a vengeance.  Japanese beetles eat up the foliage between the veins and give the leaves a lacy appearance.  They usually attack a plant in groups. 

Japanese Beetles are extra dangerous because before they are adult beetles, they are grubs feeding on our grass roots.  If you see the adults, spray them with Orthene, Sevin, or Malathion.  Right now is a good time to attack them as grubs in the ground with Merit, Dylox, Aloft or Sevin. Killing the grubs will help your turf and lower the population of adult beetles chewing on your foliage.

If you prefer the pheromone traps, remember to position them away from the plants you are trying to protect.   

If you have St. Augustine grass and are planning to go on vacation, be sure to protect your lawn from the “Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug” before you leave or you may not have any grass when you return. Aloft is a product that is newer than most and gives very long term control.

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

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fusilade II and other Grassy Weed Killers

I got a question about Fusilade II, so I decided to make the answer a Horticulture Hotline article. Fusilade II could fit into one of those “secret products” from last week. Killing grassy weeds out of beds is a lot easier with this product helping you.

Fusilade II is what is known as a selective herbicide.  Fusilade II selectively removes grassy weeds from broadleaf planting beds.  You can spray Fusilade II right over the top of many different plants and it will kill grassy weeds without hurting the plants (read and follow product label).  It does particularly well in killing Bermudagrass.  Round Up is a non-selective herbicide which means that it kills anything that it comes in contact with.  Fusilade II does a better job of killing Bermudagrass than even Round Up. 

Fusilade II lists over 40 annual and perennial grasses that it controls.  Some of the more common ones are:
·        Barnyardgrass
·        Bermudagrass, Wire Grass, Joint Grass
·        Broadleaf Signalgrass
·        Crabgrass (large, smooth, southern and tropical)
·        Field sandspur
·        Foxtail (giant, green, yellow)
·        Goosegrass
·        Johnsongrass
·        Quackgrass
·        Torpedograss

The list of ornamentals that you can spray over the top of is in the hundreds.  Again, read and follow the product label.

With all the Zoysia being planted in the area, Fusilade II has another useful application. Killing bermudagrass in stands of Zoysia; however, it is not labeled for home lawns.

Here is part of Syngenta’s Fusilade II label:

Over-spray Zoysia: Application should be made at a rate of 3-4
oz./A with Fusilade II Turf and Ornamental Herbicide, and a
nonionic surfactant. Applications should be made in late spring
(around June 1) and repeated about every 28-30 days. Late summer application can be reduced to 2-3 oz./A as bermudagrass
is preparing for dormancy. During hot summer weather the rates
could be increased to 4-5 oz./A. Note: The 5 oz. rate could cause
temporary turf discoloration.

The label does warn that this could be a multi-year process. As you can see, this part of the label is packed with information. The label mentions using a surfactant, when to apply the product, how often it should be applied, when to adjust the rates, and even warns you that you might get some discoloration. The label also has some very important information throughout the whole label.

If you are trying to kill bermudagrass in Liriope, juniper beds or other labeled plantings, we also sell other products that will do that. Vantage, Over The Top, Ornamec, and Sethoxydim are a few of them. Vantage, Over The Top and Ornamec are in smaller “retail” packaging.

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

Monday, May 13, 2013

Secret Products

Four “secret” products that have proven to be useful; however, not everyone talks about:

4. Dog Rocks – a great product from “Down Under” that neutralizes dog and cat urine, so you do not have dead areas in your grass. It is crazy, but these rocks from Australia work great! Many dogs will urinate in the same area, killing the grass, and opening the area up for weed attack (often times the more salt tolerate Bermuda grass – sometimes called joint grass – that is very hard to control).

Your neighbor who is using Dog Rocks might be in your backyard for a few “shrimp on the barbi”, and might comment about the urine spots killing your grass. Then, take a sip of his oil can Foster’s Lager, and never mention the Dog Rocks. Competition between neighbors is alive and well.

3. Nitrile disposable gloves – similar to what Doctors use. The people that buy these gloves use them all the time for everything. They are nitrile, so no latex issues and are resistant to most chemicals. Spreading fertilizer, spraying control products, painting, cleaning up after a pet, changing diapers, putting fuel in mower or car, carrying out trash, cleaning the house, changing the oil in a mower or vehicle, and carrying in the Christmas Tree are just a couple of uses for these gloves. The gloves are very inexpensive; however, not many people know about them.

The same neighbor that uses the Dog Rocks reaches out to shake your hand that is covered with paint, then pulls back his hand and says, ”doing a little painting today, Ol’Sport?”

2. This same neighbor notices a box of name brand Fipronil spot treatment for your dog’s fleas and ticks on the counter (another good time to wear the disposable gloves while applying control products to your animals). Of course, he does not mention that be buys Prefurred Plus and Prefurred One (a post patent – generic product) for one half to one third the cost.

1. Neem oil. Most people have heard of horticultural oils for insect control; however, not everyone has heard of Neem oil. They work very similar on insects, but Neem oil also controls certain fungi as well. Powdery Mildew on Crepe Myrtles, Dogwoods, and Roses can be a big issue in the Lowcountry. Lucky for us, this disease usually only lasts for a short period of time, making it a perfect candidate for this organic product.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Brown Patch / Large Patch and other Yard Happenings

Another cool, rainy, overcast, and nasty weekend in the Lowcountry, and the fungus just loves these conditions. I saw fungus Sunday afternoon in places I have never seen fungus before. Unfortunately, looking at the 10 day weather forecast, indicates that the conditions that favor fungus development are going to be with us for at least 10 more days.

Last week I wrote about large patch / brown patch fungus. If you missed the article or want to review it after this weekend’s rain, you can go to and look under the Horticulture Hotline tab.

This Spring has been the worst for lawn fungus I can remember. If you decide not to treat with a fungicide, your grass will thin out and opportunistic weeds will move in to fill in the bare spots. If you want a weed free lawn, you will then have to treat the weeds, assuming a product will be labeled to treat them, and grow the grass back in. Instead of going through all that, it is probably best to use a “professional strength” systemic fungicide like Disarm or Cleary’s 3336.

Here is a list of a few other things going on in the yard:

Soil tested?  Custom Program written? Apply the products that your soil needs instead of guessing. Doing soil tests are cheaper and provide better results than random applications. Why do you think sport’s turf managers soil test?

Huge fleshy leaves on new growth of camellias and azaleas? Leaf gall? Remove infected leaves and destroy. Loves this weather too!

Fertilize daffodils and spray them with Mighty Plant for bigger bulbs next year. Leave the leaves (foliage) to collect sunlight to refurbish bulb for next year.

Adult mole crickets are mating – manage them. Lebanon Insect Control

Fire ants are starting to forage – manage them.  Lebanon Insect Control, Baits.

Grubs are near the surface – manage them.  Lebanon Insect Control, Grub X

Prune azaleas, camellias and other spring flowering plants after they bloom? Wait on Gardenias for now.

Is Powdery mildew attacking roses, crepe myrtles, dogwoods?  Neem PY (organic), Honor Guard.

Fertilized Palm Trees with 07-00-09 (the most awesome Palm Fertilizer)?

Get a “jump” on fleas this year. Lebanon Insect Control, Bug Blaster outside. Precor 2000, Inverted Carpet Spray, Alpine Flea Insecticide with IGR or Ultracide all have an adulticide as well as a growth regulator and are labeled for indoor use. Prefurred Plus or Bio Spot to apply to pet.