Monday, August 29, 2016

Deer - Pretty and Pesty

“I live in a new subdivision where deer are a big problem.  It is bad enough when they eat the foliage off my azaleas or the flowers off my daylilies, but last year a buck rubbed its horns on one of my new trees and killed it!  I have done my research, and I know in the next few months bucks will be rubbing the velvet off their horns again.  Is there any way I can avoid losing another tree to this four-legged pest?”

Someone asked me this question a few years ago and I had a similar question the other day. When a buck rubs a tree, he usually scrapes the bark off one side of the tree. The scape is usually 2 to 4 feet long, depending on the buck.  On a small tree, he can scrape the bark off all sides of the tree, girdling the tree and killing it.  Deer do this to mark their territory as well as rubbing the velvet off their antlers that they grow new each year. 

Controlling deer can be (is) very difficult.  An outdoor dog or two on an electric fence would probably be your best defense. Is fencing is an option?  There are many other deterrents for the deer that are set off by motion detectors.

Dogs would probably be your best bet.  They don’t have to be nasty or mean dogs.  As long as the dog(s) lives in the yard, his different scents will deter a deer and also the dog would probably chase the deer out of the yard.  The dog would have to have free roam of the yard and be out there at night.  A dog will also keep other intruders out of the yard such as raccoons, people, and the occasional…ever so lovable…North America’s only native marsupial… drum roll…The Possum! 

Another option for controlling deer is a fence.  The recommended height of a fence is ten feet to control deer, which is not going to be practical in most neighborhoods.  If you live in a neighborhood with huge lots, I guess you could put up a fence ten feet tall.  Just be sure to check your neighborhood covenants before embarking on this project to make sure this is allowed.  Deer will go in any entrances left open so be sure to use a cattle guard across any entrances. 

There are a series of gadgets that are triggered by motion detectors.  Lights, music, and sprinkler systems are a few that come to mind.  I hardly think that a deer marking his territory will be thwarted by these devices.  Deer seem to get used to these gadgets rather quickly! 

There are many repellents available on the market as well as home remedies to keep deer from eating your foliage.  Since the buck is not eating, the success of these repellents could be limited.  Deer are easily trained and if your yard is constantly protected by repellents, they might choose somewhere else to mark as their territory.  The people at Messina Wildlife make a great product called Plot Saver.  This is a ribbon that you soak in Deer Stopper and put around the perimeter of your property.  This ribbon will deter deer for 30 days and is not affected by rainfall.  Using this barrier instead of spraying individual plants works very well and saves a lot product and time.

There is a “new” product we carry at Possum’s made by Repellex that repels deer for up to a year. We were introduced to this product by a farmer who was trying to protect his crops. The product worked for him on the farm, and he wanted to get it locally from us. The rest is history. We have had several success stories with the product (and Repellex Mole Repellent). The product is systemic and gets into the plant, so it is not washed off with rainfall. The active ingredient is Capsaicin and is a natural product - derived from hot peppers; therefore, not for edible plants. If you want to get away from mixing and spraying, give Repellex a try.

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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Get Winter Weeds Before They Get You

The time has come! Stop the ‘Weed Apocalypse’ now! Many terrorist of different genus and species are prepared to attack you where you live! Prepare to fight! Stop the spread of the obnoxious weed species now before it is too late! Weeds cause disease and mayhem! Weed jihad against your yard and flower beds! When the temperature is so hot, winter weeds are probably the last thing on your mind. Just like football, deer hunting, volleyball, and shrimp baiting season, winter weeds are coming.

What you are targeting now are small seeded winter annual weeds.  These are weeds that germinate from seeds late summer, grow into plants during the winter, then flower and produce seed for the following year in early spring.  The seeds lay dormant over the summer, and then germinate late summer to begin another life cycle. 

Some examples of the most common winter annual weeds are annual bluegrass (Poa annua), chickweed, Carolina geranium, and Henbit.  The weed that we get the most complaints about is annual bluegrass.  It is the grassy weed with the white seed head in late March, early April.  If you control your winter weeds now with a preemergent herbicide, you usually will not have to mow your grass until later.  All of these weeds are very visible in a brown dormant grass. These weeds also compete with your existing turf when it tries to come out of dormancy in April. 

A couple of weeds that are not annual weeds that are visible at the same time are Dollar weed and Florida Betony (rattlesnake or artichoke weed).  These weeds require different control methods since they are not coming up from seed.

Many customers of ours at Possum’s have reported a drastic reduction in Florida Betony by using the higher rate of Dimension right now. I have done research for the manufacturer (Dow AgroSciences) and have shown great results in all my test plots.  Technically, since Dow did not pay the EPA the money to add this application to the label because this weed is not significant enough in their eyes to recoup the money paid to the EPA, I cannot recommend this application. If you have Florida Betony and are going to use a preemergent product for annual bluegrass, you might want to give a product containing Dimension a try.

Dimension comes in many strengths, so be sure you purchase the correct one. We see many national companies (and some local companies) selling the lower active ingredient product (0.10%, 0.13%, and 0.15%) and not advising the customer about the higher use rates required in the Coastal South for this product.

Preemergent products do what their name implies.  These products kill the weeds seed before it can emerge from the ground.  By killing the weed before it emerges from the ground, you are making your life a lot easier.  Killing weeds after they emerge (post-emergent) is much harder on you and your grass. 

Be careful to read and follow product labels so that you do not over-apply products.  Since a lot of people put out preemergent products as a granular, be careful not to overlap too much or you can damage your turf. 

Now is the time to put out preemergent products (two weeks before the soil temperatures are ready for winter weeds to germinate).  Various fertilizers such as; 16-00-08, 15-00-15, 00-00-07and 23-00-08 combined with preemergent will give your lawn and shrubs (don’t forget the shrubs!) one last feeding of nitrogen for the year while controlling the weeds.  Usually you will want to come back with another preemergent in 6-10 weeks depending on the products you use and the weather conditions. 

Mosquito invasion! Don’t get me started….

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

Monday, August 15, 2016


Over the weekend, Paul Mulkey and I got a call (“The Garden Clinic”, Saturdays from noon to 1:00, on 1250 WTMA) about a cockroach that was mainly living outside the caller’s house. The caller didn’t think it was an American cockroach (aka Palmetto Bug), so I was thinking it must be an oriental cockroach. The oriental cockroach has wings; however, it doesn’t fly. The Palmetto bug loves to fly when it is hot, and the caller was sure it was flying near his porch light, so it might have been some young American roaches.

Although this is the Horticulture Hotline, I decided to write about entomology (insects) today. The old cockroach has found its way into many Lowcountry homes.  Contact your pest management company if you have a contract or consider getting on a contract if you do not like dealing with cockroaches.  If you are a die hard do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips that will make your battle a little more effective. 

Treat your outside perimeter. A band about three feet from your house generally in the mulch is a good place to start. A granular product like Bug Blaster in the mulch beds surrounding your house will help kill the roaches before they get inside your house. A NOP (National Organics Program) organic product that is very effective is InTice Perimeter Bait. Using a spray around windows, doors, garage entry, and any other entry point to your house will also keep them from entering your house. EcoVia is a NOP product you can use around the outside and inside of your house.   

Underneath your house, consider dusting with a boric acid product. BorActin is a NOP product labeled for this or you could use the InTice Perimeter Bait. These products will last a long time in the crawl space of your house because they are away from sunlight and moisture. 

In your house, consider using InVict Gold cockroach gel. InVict Gold is a fast acting bait that has our customers at Possum’s singing it’s praises. The bait products are great because they move throughout the roach population.  Maxforce Gel capitalize on roaches nasty habits needed to survive, making these products very effective.  An immature roach has to eat the fecal pellets of the adult roach in order to mature into an adult roach.  Roaches also cannibalize each other.  By using this bait, you get a domino effect by the little roaches eating the fecal pellets of an adult that has consumed the bait.  When one roach dies from the bait, then another eats the dead roach, it will also die.  In wall voids you can also use InTice Perimeter Bait. 

There are many good aerosols that come with a long straw that are designed to be sprayed in cracks and crevices.  Now there is a good selection of “green” aerosols to choose from along with the old standbys. If you treat the outdoors and use a gel, an aerosol application probably will not be necessary.   

Definitely consider using a growth regulator to help lengthen your control of the roaches.  Generally, growth regulators are very safe to humans if applied properly, and some will also help with fleas (Nylar). Growth regulators will keep roaches from reproducing; therefore, breaking up their life cycle. 

Knowing where to put these products is crucial for the success.  Always read, understand and follow the product label.  There are also many pest control companies that are well established in this area and are very capable of taking care of any of your uninvited guests. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, this article should help and the products suggested should work well.