Monday, July 31, 2017

Insects That Mess Up Your Lawn That You Have Worked So Hard On This Year

Horticulture Hotline 07/31/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ is about impossible to see (about the size of fine ground pepper), the damage can be confused between fungi, dry areas, and just dead areas and although they are easy to kill once identified, the chinch bug keeps coming back. Chinch bugs limit their diet to St. Augustine grass (AKA Charleston Grass).

In the old days (Dursban, Diazinon), you could put out a product in May and pretty much control chinch bugs for the season. Now depending on the product, if you get two to three weeks control you are lucky. Most of the products work on the adults and do not affect the eggs that are waiting to hatch.

 There are a lot of cases of resistance to certain control products in Florida, so be sure to rotate chemical families of your products (not just product names). Since some of our sod comes up from Florida, we will most likely experience these resistant chinch bugs before long. If you talked to some of the people I talk to, you would swear they are already here.

‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’ got this designation from attacking family’s lawns during the summer while families were taking their summer vacation. The fact that this very small insect and a lot of its buddies can wipe out a beautiful yard in a very short period of time is ruthless. Hard to control weeds like bermudagrass and Virginia button weed always seem to move in on the weaken areas.

There is a fungus in the soil that controls chinch bugs. When the soil dries out the fungus in the soil that keeps chinch bugs in check dies. When the fungus dies, the chinch bugs go crazy. The reason you see chinch bugs along the road, driveway, sidewalks or in the sunniest part of the yard is because that is where the fungus dies out first. Chinch bugs rarely attack grass in the shade because the fungus keeps them in check. We have had regular rains this year, so there hasn’t been the explosion of chinch bugs that we have seen in years past. With about 50 people moving to the Lowcountry a day, I wanted to make people aware of ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’.

Since chinch bugs attack the grass along the road, driveway, and sidewalks, when people treat for them, they often throw product on hard impermeable surfaces (roads, driveways, and sidewalks). Always be sure to sweep or blow any particles back into the grass to avoid any unwanted runoff. This particular runoff situation would be another reason to refer to this pest as ‘The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug’!

While working in my yard yesterday, I noticed more moths than last week that could be laying the eggs of grass eating worms. It was late in the afternoon, so I went to the closest Possum’s and picked up a little ammunition for my preventive attack. I picked up enough for two applications, so I would be ready in case I thought another application was needed.

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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Be Proactive - The Bad Worms Are Coming To Eat Your Grass

Horticulture Hotline 07/24/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

I have been writing this column since around 1989. Right after Hurricane Hugo, I started this column (with the help of many others from the Post and Courier family) to try to help people out with their landscape situations after “The Storm”.

With over 28 years of articles in the archives (over 1300 articles), it is easy to spot trends. I see (in my article’s crystal ball) that during the next two weeks’ army worms will be looking to add a little fiber to their diet in the form of your turf grass.

While mowing the grass during the heat of the day, I noticed a few moths in my grass. I have also noticed several moths flying around in my yard in the evening, and I have been told by many of my fellow moth watching friends that they are starting to see them as well. Moths fly around, lay eggs, then the hungry worm emerges and eats your grass. They eat a lot of grass very quickly. The spineless insects do not care that you worked all spring and summer on your lawn. They munch down on it quickly and weeds move in.  The worm then becomes a moth and the cycle begins again.

Many people will be taking vacation before school starts or dropping off that loved one to college. I’m going to get something out on my yard in the next few days, so I don’t come home to a munched on lawn. These worms do a lot of damage fast.

07-00-14 + Allectus (if you need a little fertilizer to get you through the summer), Bifen, or Sevin G would help prevent the grass munchers from eating the grass you have tried so hard to cultivate over the summer. EcoVia is an NOP (National Organics Program) compliant product that works great if you prefer to use organic products.

While driving around and looking at my own yard, the grass is looking a little “washed out” from the high temperatures and the lack of fertilizer. Most people’s spring fertilizer has been consumed by the plant and turned into clippings. 07-00-14 + Allectus and Perk are two good fertilizers to get you through until it is preemerge time again. If you are working from information derived from a soil test or custom program, stick with those recommendations.

While you are out there working in the yard, remember the sunscreen (sun cancer seems to be another way our reckless youth catches up with us), sun protection clothing, and water (rotate in a sport’s drink as well). Mosquitoes?

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). 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Flea Cocktail Plus A Little Extra

Horticulture Hotline 07/17/17
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

With the rain, we are seeing a lot of ‘yellowing’ of grass at the stores. Some from fungus, some from chinch bugs (time of year – not rain), and most of the yellowing I’m seeing is from the soil being depleted of minor nutrients. Many people that fertilized in the spring are now due for some more fertilizer. If your grass is growing good, Excell, Perk, Possum Minors, or SeaHume would add minor nutrients without encouraging a bunch of new growth that could be susceptible to fungus attack. 07-00-14 + Allectus is a 100% slow release nitrogen product that would help with chinch bugs and many other insects. Hopefully in a month, it will be getting cooler and the grass will slow down.

Fleas (roaches, mosquitoes, and bedbugs) are very persistent insects that are a challenge to control. The use of an adulticide and a growth regulator (ie cocktail) will increase your odds of success greatly.

Adult biting fleas only account for about 2% of the population, the rest are in the egg, larva and pupae stage. If you are using a product that only controls adults, you are going to have to spray regularly to kill the new adults as they emerge. This constant spraying is a battle most people do not want to fight. However, if you mix in a growth regulator (many aerosol products have a growth regulator already mixed in), within about 2 weeks (it takes a little time for fleas to emerge and for the growth regulator to break up the life cycle) your flea population should ‘crash.’

There are some cultural steps (part of the cocktail if you will) that would help you with your flea control success as well. Vacuum, spray, let area dry then vacuum again. If your vacuum has a bag, be sure to take it outside to remove it and put it in another bag in the garbage can, so any fleas (eggs, adults, larva, pupae) you might have sucked up will not re-infest your home. Vacuum often, at least daily, for best results.

Treating your animal will also add to your success.  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.

Treat your yard and bed areas with IC3 (National Organics Program compliant), Essentria G (National Organics Program compliant), Bug Blasters, or Sevin. Pivot is a growth regulator that you can use outdoors to break up the life cycle of many pests. Pivot works on many different flies, mosquitoes, fleas, roaches and many other pests.

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 something you would rather have a professional tackle, there are many good Pest Management Professionals in the area. If you call a Pest Management Company, give his products 2 weeks to work before you call him back out to your house (unless the company tells you otherwise). The process simply takes that long.

If you are thinking about aerating later this summer while the grass is still actively growing, while you have the holes open in your lawn, some good additives are: SeaHume G, 04-04-04 Bolster, Mule Mix, BGK 7500, Crab Shell and / or Cotton Burr Compost. Get the full benefit from the aeration! Sounds like another cultural / product cocktail!!

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