Monday, August 8, 2016

Late Summer Insects and Pests

Insects seem to be the main pest at the Possum’s counter this week. Armyworms, chinch bugs, fleas, roaches (hey, it is Charleston, they like the world’s best city also) and mosquitoes have been attacking our Lowcountry homes and yards.

Armyworms are chowing down on grass throughout the area. Athletic fields, Golf Courses, and home lawns lose the aesthetic value of the green grass, and the worms thin the canopy of the grass where weeds will move in if given a chance. Prostrate growing weeds like spurge, lespedeza and Virginia button weed seem to come in the fastest.

What bothers me the most is you work all summer on your grass to have it looking nice, and once the grass starts to slow down for the winter, fall army worms and then sod webworms attack the grass. Look for areas that appeared to have been mowed low and with a dull blade. You can see that the leaf blades have been chewed. Also thatch type debris will be churned up on the surface. Birds and low flying wasps are also predators of armyworms. Thanks to cell phones, last year, I took a cool picture of a wasp attacking the head of an armyworm.

Since army worms are in direct contact with the ground, they are very easy to control. Bug Blaster, Bifen, Sevin, and Acephate will all put a hurting on armyworms. Thuricide (Bt), Eco Via and Spinosad are organic products that will also work well if you get them while the worms are small. Since the population of worms is so high and hit so hard, keep your eye out for a second hatching.

For those of you with St. Augustine and Centipede, keep your eye out for the sod web worm. Watch for moths in your yard around dusk. If you begin to see a moth that gets out of the grass, flies for 6-10 feet then lands again (like a bobwhite quail for you bird hunters) you may want to consider using one of the above mentioned products. Usually sod web worms would not come out until September / October; however, with the crazy weather we are having, scouting for them could not hurt.

We are approaching the time to put out preemerge products in the lawn and beds to prevent those small seeded annual weeds. Henbit, chickweed, Poa annua (annual bluegrass), cudweed and lawn burweed are a few of the winter weeds that would like to occupy your lawn and flower beds. Poa annua (the green grass that is very visible in February and March) and lawn burweed (the prostrate growing weed that develops a sticker) are usually the most hated of the winter weeds. Some people use profanity while describing them at the counter of Possum’s! 

If your yard has thatch, drainage, or compaction issues, now is a great time to aerate your lawn (and beds where possible) before you apply your fall preemerge. Aeration is a great cultural practice, which will among other things help your roots grow throughout the winter giving you a head start for the spring. Bringing thatch eating microbes to the surface will help manage your thatch and therefore fungus.  

The “nasty rascal the chinch bug” is still sucking the life out of many lawns. They are a very small insect. A chinch bug is a little bigger than the period at the end of this sentence and they move very fast. They are very difficult to point out to people; even though, there are hundreds of them sucking the life out of their grass.

Fleas, mosquitoes and/or roaches?

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