Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Few Situations To Look Out For

  1. The nasty rascal, the chinch bug in St. Augustine grass has been killing large areas of turf in the Lowcountry. Remember the products that control chinch bugs generally have a short residual. If you are going out of town for any length of time, be sure you treat the lawn before you leave. If you prefer to treat less often, Aloft is the way to go. Aloft is more expensive; however, depending on the rates you apply the product, the cost evens out because you have to apply it less often and you only have to keep the pets inside once instead of multiple times.
  2.  Fleas have been a close second to chinch bugs this Spring. Any pet owner, especially one that has his or her pet sleep in the same room as themselves, can not stand to be kept up half the night by the sound of their pet scratching fleas. Fleas are hard to control. Plan to treat the animal, the house, and the yard. The use of growth regulators will make a near impossible task, much easier. Expect about two weeks to get this pest managed.
  3. Japanese beetles have been chowing down. Bifen or Cyonara will take care of them.
  4. Hurry up and do any pruning you want to do to azaleas and camellias.   
  5. While driving through neighborhoods localized dry spots are very evident.  These are areas in the yard that turn that bluish gray color from lack of water.  New neighborhoods with young grass and poor soils seem to be most susceptible to these dry areas.  Exposed areas with lots of wind and areas at the beaches also are good candidates for these localized dry spots.  Adding organic matter to the soil (Cotton Burr Composts or SeaHume), wetting agents, or adjusting sprinkler heads will help with these dry areas.  Remember to water in the early a.m. before the wind picks up, so the grass will dry by nightfall.
  6. Moles seem to be particularly active this spring.  They just had their young in April and now they are tunneling up a storm.  The young moles are hungry!  Manage the food source in your yard (grubs, mole crickets) with Lebanon Insect Control and go after the mole with Mole Patrol. 
  7. Be sure to change that dull mower blade from last year.  This will give your grass a cleaner cut and will allow less entry points for disease. Inspect your blade for nicks and damage if you are going to continue to use the same blade. Since a mower blade spins at very high speeds, any nicks or bends can lead to the blade being out of balance. When a blade is out of balance, the mower will vibrate (like your tire out of balance on your car) and you could damage the spindle and other parts of your mower that cost far more than a new blade.
  8. Look up at your trees. If you have any tree work that needs to be done, I would get it done as soon as possible.  Look for trees that have cavities at the base of the tree and look at the tops for broken limbs and weak crotch angles.  Have a tree care professional inspect your trees for safety. Most tree companies will inspect for free. Try to get this done before the Lowcountry is in that cone for a direct hit for a hurricane! The tree companies are usually very busy by then. 
  9. As with all products, you should read and follow product labels.  More is not better when dealing with control products.  Measure your yard so you know your square footage and watch overlapping when applying your products.  You also need to watch the weather forecast to insure the products have a proper amount of time on your lawn prior to any rain.  If the product needs to be watered into the ground, a slow watering by a sprinkler is better than a gully washer from the sky.  A very hard rain can wash products into the storm water drains which are bad for the environment and you have wasted a lot of money. Also sweep or blow fertilizers or control products off of hard surfaces when you are finished applying them. In the case of fertilizer this may prevent staining, and most importantly it will keep products from washing through storm drains to the marshes.
  10. With the dry weather we had earlier this year, spider mites have come out in full force. Be sure to use a product labeled for mites when trying to control these plant juice suckers. Mites are not insects, so all insecticides do not control them. Malathion and oil should work until the temperatures get too hot.
  11. Another plant juice sucker that is out in full force is the lace bug on Azaleas. If  the leaves look mottled, flip the leaf over and look very closely for the pest. The lace bug is small and well camouflaged so you might need a magnify glass. Dominion Tree and Shrub or Merit will give you long term control of this pest.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer is Here - Watering Tips

Summer is here! Pop up thunderstorms in the afternoon, well over 90 degree days, and vacation time (“Schools out for Summer” – Alice Cooper). If your kids are grown, maybe you are thinking, “Summertime and the Living is Easy” because if they are still around the house you are busy keeping them busy.

The pop up thunderstorms are very local in the Lowcountry. Just because you went through a lot of rain on the way home from work, do not be surprised if you got very little at home (or flip this scenario). This past week I was in a monsoon in West Ashley and hardly a drop of rain came down at my house.

With the very high temperatures, be sure your lawn, trees, and shrubs are getting enough water. If you have an irrigation system, invest in a rain sensor, so you are not wasting water and your money on water during a wet spell.

With the sporadic rain, a rain gauge is a good tool to have. We have a basic one that sells for less than five dollars. I have seen very fancy ones that are over one hundred dollars. With the Duck Dynasty craze going strong, you could probably get a camouflage coffee mug with an equal top and bottom circumference and place it in the middle of the yard away from overhanging tree limbs to collect water. If you go with the camo mug, be sure you do not hit it with the lawn mower.  

Using wetting agents (we hear of people saving 30% to 85% on their water bill by using wetting agents), topdressing with Cotton Burr Compost and using organic fertilizers will help you get more bang for your water bill buck.

If you have a well for watering, be sure to have it tested for salt. We (Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control) see many soil tests that come back high in sodium from people watering with a well that is salty. Sometimes these wells are inland, so it is not just a coastal situation. If you have a salty well, we have many tools to help you manage this situation.

Summertime uninvited guests include roaches, rodents, the nasty rascal the chinch bug, wasps, flies (many types), ants (fire ants and many others), mole crickets, aphids, white flies, lace bugs, various worms (not the good kind), fleas, mosquitoes, scale, borers, gray leaf spot …

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Leyland Cypress, Roaches, Rodents, Watering, Mosquitoes, Flies, Green Grass

Leyland Cypress issues, roaches and rodents that like air conditioning, flies by the grill, how an application of SeaHume and 15-00-15 made the grass so green, mosquitoes and these mysterious brown areas in my yard seem to dominate my conversations this week.


The “mysterious brown areas” have in all cases turned out to be lack of water. Money has been spent on fungicides and insecticides when all the area needed is a little water. If you have an irrigation system, check to make sure your heads are turning properly and all your zones (valves) are working, or hire a professional to go through your system.


“My irrigation system runs for 20 minutes per zone three times per week, is that enough water?”  This is a question I get asked frequently, and the answer is not a yes or a no response.  Different irrigation systems have different gallon per minute nozzles so the rate varies according to the type of nozzle installed.  Water pressure also varies depending on where you live and whether you have a well.  Some irrigation heads pop up and mist and others pop up and spray in a rotary fashion.  The difference is enormous to a yard.  The pop ups that are spraying a constant mist can flood an area very quickly. The rotary head can run for an hour without too much water being applied. 


Ideally your soil should be moist down to six inches.  Moist…not saturated.  A soil probe is an excellent way to determine the moisture levels in the soil.  Soil probes are available at garden centers.  Soil probes will allow you to check the moisture as well as the profile of your soil.  You can also determine how much thatch you have using these probes.  Soil probes also make taking a soil test much easier. 


Measuring the amount of water your sprinkler or irrigation system is putting onto your landscape is very easy.  A few coffee cups that have an equal diameter on top as the bottom is all you need.  If you are not a coffee cup person, you can also use tuna fish cans, soup cans or other containers that have an equal diameter on top and bottom.  If you don’t want to look like a hillbilly, you can invest in several rain gauges. 


Simply place these throughout your lawn and run the sprinkler for 15 minutes, then measure the amount of water in the container.  If you have an irrigation system, you will have to measure each zone separately to get accurate measures.  If you collected a quarter inch of water in 15 minutes and you wanted to put out a half inch of water, simply increase your irrigation time to 30 minutes. 


By applying organic products and/or wetting agents you can greatly reduce the amount of water you need to apply.  Cotton Burr compost is a great organic product that will reduce your watering bill, and increase the soil’s nutrient holding capacity making your fertilizers more effective.  Cotton Burr compost will also help reduce runoff of fertilizers and other control products into the environment because the products penetrate the soil. 


Wetting agents allow water to penetrate deeper into the soil resulting in deeper rooting grasses, plants, and trees.   Wetting agents will also help reduce runoff of fertilizers and other control products into the environment because the products penetrate the soil.   Although water is very inexpensive here compared to other parts of the country and world, you still don’t want to waste it.  Wetting agents have been shown to reduce water usage by 30-60%.  Fungicide use can be reduced with less watering. 


The most important aspect of watering is keeping the soil moist to a depth of six inches.  Add the appropriate amount of water for your yard with your soil type, wind exposure, slope or yard, and exposure to sun. 


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Fleas, Drain Flies, Roaches, Mosquitoes, and Flies - Oh My

If you haven’t already, it is time to get a ‘ jump’ on fleas. I can tell from the questions I get and the sales at Possum’s, fleas are getting active. The best control comes from a three prong approach of treating the animal, your house, and your yard, while using a growth regulator to prevent the fleas from reproducing.

Prefurred One or Prefurred Plus are post patented Fipronil products that you apply directly to your dog or cat every 30 days. Being a “generic”, the price has dropped significantly (customers tell us 30 to 50 percent off). Petcor, Biospot or a flea collar will also protect your animal. Flee, a new Fipronil based spray product, is getting good reviews.

Be proactive and treat the house with a product that contains a growth regulator. Precor 2000, Ultracide, I G regulator, Pivot, EcoVia (National Organics Program compliant but no growth regulator) and Alpine Flea Insecticide are a few good products for use in the house. If you apply these products before you have an issue, your success will be much greater and will save you from all the vacuuming, washing of beds and the sleepless nights with a scratching pet.

Treat your yard and bed areas with EcoVia (National Organics Program compliant), Essentria G (National Organics Program compliant), Bug Blasters, or Sevin.

Pivot 10 is a growth regulator that can be used inside and outside. Research show indoors it last about 7 months and outdoors between 30 and 60 days depending on rainfall and other environmental factors. Pivot controls many pests from drain flies to house flies to roaches to mosquitoes to fleas and many other common pests in the Lowcountry. Drain flies, flies, roaches, mosquitoes, and fleas are always bad this time of year, so now is a great time to apply Pivot 10.

By treating the family pet, the home and the yard proactively, you should have good success against the flea. If this sounds like too much work or a project you would rather have a professional tackle, there are many good Pest Management Professionals.

Watch out for flies and stinging pest like wasps. This is their time of year as well!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June is Here

Time is flying by once again! School is getting out and it is already June. Of course the heat brings many situations in the landscape.

Right now there is a great opportunity for those that love fragrance. I know there are some manly men out there that would not admit this because it would compromise their manhood, but two of the Lowcountry gems are blooming now, and they smell great! The Magnolias and Gardenias will stop you in their tracks with their fragrance.

Many people like the smell of Ligustrum. I’m not one of those people; however, it does signal the Spring to me and bees love it. I do believe there are closet lovers of Gardenias and Magnolias. These bearded manly men dress up in camouflage, paint their face, and in the cover of darkness, go and smell these wonderful plants.

Japanese Beetles have emerged (pun intended) on the scene, tearing up Crepe Myrtles, Roses, and many other plants. These heavy eaters are easy to kill with a little persistence. Bifen, Cyonara, and many others will take care of the Japanese Beetle. Traps also work if placed away from where the preferred meal of the Japanese Beetle and are more of an organic approach. EcoVia EC is a Botanical Insecticide that is NOP (National Organic Program) compliant and works.

The baby mole crickets are hatching and the adults are dying off. Now is a good time to ‘flush’ an area that you think you might have mole crickets. Get two ounces of lemony dish soap in five gallons of water and slowly pour it over a 2 x 2 area where you have tunneling damage by mole crickets and see what comes out of the ground in the next 3 to 5 minutes. Depending on your tolerance level, you can decide whether or not to treat. A golf green would have zero tolerance because the tunnels would affect the ball roll. EcoVia EC and Intice Perimeter are two NOP compliant products that should work good for you. Aloft or Lebanon Sevin are conventional control products that will ‘kill the baby’ mole crickets.

While I was talking to a commercial customer on the phone last week about a yard he was getting ready for a wedding, he got all excited because a mole (the most hated fur bearing animal per pound of body weight) was surfacing out of the ground where he had just put a Mole, Vole and Gopher Repellent we had sold him at Possum’s. Moles just had their babies in April and are very active. Moles are another pest that requires persistence to manage.

Chinch Bugs are very active. If you have a sunny St. Augustine lawn, it is time to get some protection out there on your turf. EcoVia EC is an NOP compliant product. Aloft is a long term control product. Bug Blaster, Cyonara, Bifen, and Lebanon Sevin will provide short term control.

Speaking of sunny yards, remember to protect yourself from the sun. Since I hang around mostly people that spend time in the sun, I have witnessed and heard about many sun related horror stories.

Drain flies are becoming an issue with all the good local vegetables and fruits being consumed in our kitchens. Using the scum eating microbes in InVade BioDrain will help eliminate the organic build up in drains that harbor the drain flies and the citrus oil will help reduce odors as well. The EcoVia EC will help if they are already getting active.