Monday, March 29, 2021

Mole Crickets Anyone?


Horticulture Hotline 03/29/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


I guess the mole crickets didn’t drowned in the October / Fall rains. Between having 3 stores (Possum’s Landscape and Pest Control Supply), regularly scouting around, and having a whole bunch of friends in the business of killing mole crickets, when they get bad, I hear about it. Right now, they are bad! With some products being removed from the market, we are getting more complaints about mole crickets.   


These guys definitely damage turf.  Their damage is not caused by them eating the roots of the grass plants, as many people think, but is actually caused by them tunneling near the surface and separating the roots from the soil.  When the roots are separated from the soil, the grass plant dries out and dies.  This tunneling can cause big problems when there is a drought. When the soil is dry, it separates quickly from the plant’s roots.  Regular rains, irrigation or rolling the ground with a sod roller, can help keep the plant alive by keeping the roots in contact with the soil. This spring is bad because the grass is still sort of dormant and little rain (at least not what is being predicted) so the damage might go undetected.


To control mole crickets, it is best to scout for them.  Get two ounces of lemony dish soap in five gallons of water and slowly pour it over a 2 x 2 area where you may think you have mole crickets.  The soap irritates their equivalent to our lungs, and brings them to the surface gasping for air. This will bring them to the surface (and other creatures) and depending on how many come to the surface, you can then decide whether to treat your yard or not.  A golf course green because of putting would have less tolerable amount than a home lawn. 


This time of year, mole crickets are in their adult stage and are mating and flying around. Often you will notice a little volcano with a hole in the center the size on a number 2 pencil. The male mole cricket uses this volcano to amplify his mating call. This is a good time to treat them because you will break up their life cycle before they produce new babies. 


Later, in June and July, if you use a soap flush again; you will see the baby mole crickets.  Baby mole crickets are easy to kill because they do not fly. Baby mole crickets look like little adults. 


In the fall, the small mole crickets will have grown into young adults, have wings, and will tunnel near the surface and fly around. In the fall and winter these young mole crickets do a lot of damage. The grass is going dormant so the damage is harder to see, people tend to cut back on their irrigation, and we have low humidity, windy days. Depending on the amount of mole crickets in your yard, these are the three critical times to treat for them. 


Many control products are available to kill mole crickets.  Some work better depending on the stage of life of the mole cricket.   There are baits, parasitic nematodes, contact killers, granular products, spray products, etc.  When going after the baby mole cricket, always be sure to use a product that goes through the thatch layer and into the soil where the baby mole cricket resides.  Depending on your population of mole crickets, type of soil (they like sand – easier to tunnel), and number of lights you have on your property that they attract to, the number of applications can vary greatly. Mole Crickets tend to inhabit the same area of a landscape year after year (usually because of lights or soil type), so with good mapping, you can concentrate your efforts in these areas and save money by using less product.


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


Monday, March 22, 2021

Citrus Leafminer and Leaf Gall


Horticulture Hotline 03/22/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


If you have a citrus tree, now is the time to put out Citrus Leafminer Pheromone Traps. If you have had leafminers in the past, you know that they love to attack that new spring flush of growth. Leafminers’ larvae feed by creating shallow tunnels in young leaves that eventually kill the leaves. In severe cases the leafminers can defoliate the tree and the tree will decline. The traps we sell (Possum’s) contain no pesticides, are safe for organic use and last up to 15 weeks.


I guess in the restaurant (“Foodie”) world they call them “pairings.” Most of the customer base I deal with calls them “cocktails.” Basically, when you get a synergistic effect from adding two or more items together – when 1 + 1 = 5 not 2. When the two or more items together act better than the two or more items act individually, you have synergy. If you have a dead spot or dead area in your lawn, try some cotton burr compost (10  2 cubic foot bags per thousand square feet) and SeaHume (15 pounds per thousand square feet). You will thank me later!


Have you noticed an azalea or a camellia whose leaves are 2-3 times the normal size and are really thick and fleshy?


They have leaf gall. Leaf gall is a very common disease that affects camellias and azaleas while they are putting on new leaves in the spring. This disease affects Camellia sasanqua (the small leaf camellia that blooms in the fall) more than Camellia japonica (the large leaf camellia that blooms in the winter).  The cool nights, overhead irrigation and rains in the early spring make this disease flourish.  This disease is caused by the fungus Exobasidium camelliae. Sometimes galls can be caused by insects or mites as well. There is another Exobasidium fungus that affects azaleas in a very similar way. 


Leaf gall is the common name for this fungus.  The leaves become very large and fleshy.  The new growth is much thicker than normal and then the leaves break apart and release spores.  When the leaf breaks apart, you can see the lower part of the leaf turns white.  The disease spreads by wind and splashing water. A good layer of mulch will help with the splashing water.


The best control for leaf gall is to pick the infected leaves off as soon as you see them in the spring.  If you can pull them off before the spores develop, you can prevent the disease from spreading.  Once you pull them off, place them in a plastic bag (the one your newspaper comes in is handy, a dog poop bag, or any other plastic bag you might have around the house) and throw them away in the garbage or burn them in the ever so popular backyard fire pit. 


Usually, this disease does not require chemical treatment.  The manual pulling off of leaves and limiting overhead irrigation in the spring, when the nights are cool, will keep it in check.  If you have a severe problem year after year, you could apply Mancozeb at bud break.  This control should be your last resort, and only used in severe cases. 


For this year, pull off as many infected leaves as you can.  Soon your plants should go back to producing its normal size leaves.  The leaves that were affected by leaf gall will soon wither, turn brown and fall off the shrub.


Soil test taken to Possum’s (check), preemergent product on lawn and beds (check), SeaHume on lawn and beds (check), 17-00-09 in beds (check), Perk on lawn (check), Citrus Leafminer Pheromone Traps in citrus (check), irrigation gone through and adjustments made (check), Dominion drench on plants with history of insect pest (check), lawnmower serviced (check), Cutless growth regulator for shrubs I don’t want to trim (check), Intice Perimeter around outside of house for roaches and other uninvited guest (check) …


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


Monday, March 15, 2021

Oh Yeah, Things are Warming Up


Horticulture Hotline 03/15/21

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Wow, what a year it has been! Last year about this time, I was listening to the ACC Tournament while driving through the Lowcountry doing my Possum job, and the announcers kept saying Florida State was on the floor warming up and Clemson was not coming out of the locker room. Next thing I know they cancelled the game. Chickens across the nation let out a sigh of relief, knowing that their wings would be spared a year with no March Basketball Tournament and other sports cancelled. At Possum’s we began selling hand sanitizer and masks – crazy! When did you know the Pandemic hit? Where were you?


Daffodils for the most part bloomed very early. Remember to leave their foliage, so it can collect sunlight and replenish the bulb for next year. A tablespoon of 04-04-04 will help you have bigger blooms next year. If all you had was a big group of green foliage this year, consider dividing the bulbs this fall after the bulb has been replenished by the green foliage. Mark where the bulbs are now so you know where to dig


Her is a basic hybrid mix of some things you should be doing in the rose garden (and some other beds).

  • Pruning the roses should be complete by now.
  • Sanitation (mainly after black spot) on the ground can be achieved through a Lime / Sulfur mix sprayed on the ground (be careful of new young foliage – a lot easier) or replacing of all the mulch (lots of work and removing some good organic matter).
  • Top dress bed with Nature’s Blend (contains composted cotton burrs and cattle manure, humate and alfalfa meal) at 1 inch (a one cubic foot bag should cover 12 square feet). Keep 3 inches away from main rose stem and spread it out beyond drip line.
  • These are general fertilizer recommendations – for best results bring us a soil test.

17-00-0 half a cup per bush

ProMag slow and fast release magnesium at ¼ cup per bush

SeaHume granular applied at a cup per bush

  • Begin spraying new foliage for black spot. Propiconazole (systemic) and Mancozeb (contact) are two good products to start with.
  • Spray Fish / Seaweed blend and SeaHume every 3 weeks.


If you have not had time to get your preemergent weed control out for summer annual weeds, do not delay any longer. With all the rain we had this winter, using Intice Perimeter around the foundation of your yard to keep roaches out is a good idea. Fertilize those shrubs and trees now with 17-00-09 unless you have a soil test that tells you to spread something else.


Always read, understand and follow product label. The product label is a Federal Law. Measure your yard!