Monday, July 30, 2018

Rain And Drain / Chinch Bugs And Army Worms

Horticulture Hotline 07/30/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Rain, rain – I think we have had enough for a minute. Most people that I know that work in landscaping for a living welcome rain at any time; however, it is starting to get a little ridiculous. I guess it is the morning rains that I can’t get used too. The other morning I was all psyched up and ready to spread some Nature’s Blend (Cotton Burr Compost, Composted Cattle Manure, Alfalfa Meal, and Humates) in my yard. I was well hydrated, had some water on standby, had my IPod fully charged and was ready to do some serious spreading – then the rains hit. I stayed out there a while in the pouring rain because I only had a small window of time to work outside. With the threat of my neighbor to call the van with the padded interior and a few lighting strikes I retreated indoors. Lucky, after a change of clothes, I was able to sneak out a little later and finish getting one pallet spread.

All this rain has allowed two insects to flourish. The Nasty Rascal, The Chinch Bug, is usually associated with hot dry areas; however, it is sucking the life out of some St. Augustine. Chinch bugs even during rainy weather attack the grass in sunny areas.
07-00-14 Allectus will give you good control and a little slow release fertilizer to get you to pre-emergent time.

Army worms are also out in big numbers. When it is cloudy and raining their natural predator, birds, cannot see them as easily. While writing this article, I got a call from a local school with worms everywhere – the earth was moving I believe was the description. When you have a bad worm breakout, it looks like a 1950’s horror movie – worms on top of worms crawling on top of each other and everywhere. Sevin or 07-00-14 Allectus will give you good control.

With all the rain, now is a great time to see if you need to work on drainage for your whole yard, areas of your yard, or just have some small areas that puddle.

Starting with gutters, do you have them? Do you need them? Are they clean and functioning properly? If water is running off your roof and draining under your house (crawl space), you may want to consider gutters. Moisture underneath a house can led to mold, fungus, moisture damage and termites.

If you have gutters, are the plants near the downspouts drowning? Do you need to put a piece of flexible pipe on the end of the downspout and direct the water to a place in the yard where it is not a problem? Could you collect this water in a rain barrel and store it for future use.

A large low area in the yard could be dealt with in many ways. Find the lowest point and put a drain and run the water elsewhere. If there are not any tree roots in the area, you could fill in the area with topsoil. If the area is small enough, consider using bagged topsoil, so you do not bring a bunch of weeds in the soil to your yard. If the area is real big you could remove the grass with a sod cutter and re-grade the area.

If you would like to drain an area very effectively and without having to do a lot of digging, then Turface is the way to go. All you need to do is aerate the area then apply Turface. We have worked with many customers using this product in many different situations with great results. Turface will help drain large areas and small areas. Some areas that are bigger and wetter you can dig columns and backfill with Turface. You will also save on the water and fungicide bill with this product.

Since August is approaching, I must mention preemergent time is rapidly approaching for small seeded winter annual weeds. Remember to do your bed areas as well as the turf areas.

 At Possum’s it seems that most husbands are in charge of the grass and the wives are in charge of the beds. The husband comes in and buys the preemergent product for the lawn and puts it out on the turf. In October the husband waves to his wife that is pulling weeds in the beds while he is on his way to the golf course, deer stand or fishing hole. Husbands, if you would let your wife know about preemerge, she would have more free time too.

Always read and follow product label. It is the law.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Other Travelling Terrorist

Horticulture Hotline 07/23/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Summertime is here. That means the kids are out of school, maybe time to look at colleges and summer vacation. The talk of bedbugs is not in the news like it used to be, but if you saw our sales of bedbug control products at Possum’s, you would be amazed. Whether you live South of Broad or in a housing project, we have helped you with your bedbug situation. We have learned that is not necessarily the homeowner that brings in the bedbugs, but often it is a guest that is travelling from place to place.  

When you are in a hotel, do you feel phantom insects crawling on you as you sleep? Does your work or sports with the kids require you to stay in hotels, when you would rather be at home in your cozy bed with the dog and his fleas? The worse thing about bed bugs is bringing them home to infest your house in your luggage or on you person. Bed bugs are difficult (expensive) to get manage.

Here some tips for the traveler:

Treat the outside of your luggage with a repellent material labeled for bed bugs on luggage. There are nice smelling organic products (EcoVia) and standard control products labelled for this.

Put all your clothes and toiletry items in see-through plastic bags that you can seal tightly. Upon arriving to your room, put your luggage in the bath / shower area while you inspect the room.

Bring a flashlight, Climb-up Bed Monitors and a Bed Bug Detector. Before you unpack, inspect the mattress and box springs for blood stains, cast skins and live insects. The rope-like band around the mattress will usually have some signs of bugs if there is an issue.  Look around the headboard and any adjacent bedside tables especially in the crack and crevices.

Check these areas with the Bed Bug Detector as well. The Bed Bug Detector detects the gases that bed bugs release (affectionately known as The Bed Bug F@rt Detector in the business).  The Bed Bug Detector is very accurate and easy to use. They are used all over the world by hotels, airlines, bus lines, college dorms, pest management professionals, hospitals, movie theaters, clothing stores, just to name a few. A great gift (Mother’s Day / Father’s Day) for the business or leisure traveler.

When you check in ask if the hotel has had an outbreak of bed bugs in the last year in the room you are checking into. Also ask if any of the adjacent rooms above you, below you, or on either side have been treated for bed bugs. If they have, request another room far away from any outbreak hotspot. Many states have a bed bug registry you can check.

Attach the Climb-up Bed Monitors to the legs of the beds, headboard and the bed stands. These monitors will prevent bed bugs from climbing up the bed for a nighttime attack.
Sleep soundly!

When you get home, leave your luggage outside and run your clothes through a hot dryer cycle. The dryer should dry out any unwanted hitchhikers. Check your toiletry items and re-treat your luggage.

These few simple steps can save you thousands of dollars. Out of the hundreds of customers whose houses have become infested with bed bugs that I’ve talked to at Possum’s buying bedbug control products, I’m sure every one of the wishes they took these few precautions. Bed bugs bite children, babies and adults. They are very difficult to control, and you have to throw away your stuff. No one likes to throw away their stuff!

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

Sweetgrass, Mosquitoes, and Varmints

Horticulture Hotline 07/16/18
By Bill Lamson-Scribner

Driving around the Lowcountry, I have noticed a huge amount bark shredding off of the Crepe Myrtle trees. “The Super Garden Hero”, Paul Mulkey mentioned the same thing on the “Garden Clinic” last Saturday. Seeing this shredded bark means one thing, the tree is growing and getting larger in circumference. Like me when I have to go up in pants size, except for the tree it’s a good thing – for me it’s not such a good thing.

With all the growth on Crepe Myrtles and other trees, I’m seeing a lot of limbs rubbing on the trim and roofs of houses. Rubbing limbs will take the paint off of your trim causing the wood to rot. These limbs can also provide a bridge for squirrels, rats, raccoons and other varmints. At Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply we sell products to people that remove wildlife from houses, and a little pruning can go a long way to prevent a lot of damage – be pro-active and save the damage. Since hurricane season is upon us, having your trees inspected by a professional is a good idea.

Sweetgrass is getting attacked by its nemesis the mealybug. Mealybugs look like cotton candy or thick cobwebs growing on the blades of your sweeetgras. Get it under control quickly or the secondary problem, black sooty mold, will turn your plant black. Insecticidal Soap to knock it down and a systemic drench (Dominion, Safari) will keep the mealybug away. If you want more information, google ‘sweetgrass mealybug’ and the top google hit nationwide will be a “Horticulture Hotline” from 7/13/10 that appeared in the Moultrie News.

If you have been outside, I image you have noticed the dreaded mosquito. Time to scout  around the yard for anything that holds water. Old tires, saucers under potted plants, bird baths, old flower containers or pots stacked in a corner, dog toys, kids toys, a container by the grill you use to soak wood chips in, a cooler, an old fountain, an upside down 5 gallon bucket that has a lip that holds water, a trash can lid with a dent, brick work that needs repointing, a hole in a tree and a dogs water bowl all make great places for mosquitoes to breed. Empty the water out these areas (refill the dog bowl and the bird bath daily). A tarp covering a boat or wood pile can have many pockets that hold water. Sagging gutters hold water.  A few empty bottles or cans can end up being thousands of mosquitoes! A bottle cap can be a breeding area. Many mosquitoes can breed in just an ounce of water. I was at a seminar and the speaker was encouraging people to limb up Magnolias (every horticulturalist gasped) so you could easily rake up the leaves because the big leaves held water and therefore were a breeding spot for mosquitoes.

I have been licensed to kill mosquitoes on a large scale since the late 1980’s. On Hilton Head Island, I fogged for mosquitoes on golf courses and in the plantations in the middle of the night. The herds of deer were amazing! I had to treat stagnant water in ditches and in ponds (can you say snakes, alligators and spider) as well. I guess it is a mosquito ‘geek’ thing I have about locating different breeding sites.

Armyworms, fleas, chinch bugs, and fire ants are out in full force. Roaches and other uninvited guest seem to be coming inside to the a/c to get out of the heat.

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