Sunday, July 16, 2023

Army Worms Are Munching


Horticulture Hotline 07/16/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


Army worms have officially arrived in the Lowcountry. Time to treat or lose very large areas of your grass very quickly. Army worms are very easy to control with several different products. Some require weekly applications and others last longer. The rate you decide to use will also play a factor. I needed a little fertilizer for my yard, so I used the 08-00-08 Acelepryn. Acelepryn also has a long residual.


Driving around the Lowcountry, I have noticed a huge amount bark shredding off of the Crepe Myrtle trees. 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 sweetgrass. 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 spiders) as well. I guess it is a mosquito ‘geek’ thing I have about locating different breeding sites.


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.

                           Notice the 'Y' On The Head For Arm'y' Worm

                                          Not So Popular of a Jingle Anymore


Monday, July 10, 2023

Finally Getting Some Rain!


                                 Boxwood Replacement - Dwarf Yaupon Holly
                                              Goosegrass - Open Center

Horticulture Hotline 07/10/23

By Bill Lamson-Scribner


  1. The nasty rascal, the chinch bug in St. Augustine grass has been killing large areas of turf in the Lowcountry for many decades. Remember the products that control chinch bugs generally have a short residual. If you are going out of town for any length of time, be sure you treat the lawn before you leave. A few years after I opened Possum’s in 2002 when we were still on Whipple Rd., I can remember like it was yesterday. A regular customer that was following a custom program since we opened and would bring in pictures of his lawn regularly and brag how it was the best yard in all of Charleston area – in a good way. He took his family on a trip over the Fourth of July and came to a yard that was wiped out by the nasty rascal, the chinch bug. He could not understand how his yard went downhill so fast. It was at this time I coined the phrase “the nasty rascal, the chinch bug!” Doing a great thing as a father and taking a family trip, only to have an insect about the size of a pinhead, wipe out years of hard work. Nasty rascal!
  2.  Fleas have been a close second to chinch bugs this year. The wet fall seemed to help increase the flea population. Any pet owner, especially one that has his or her pet sleep in the same room as themselves, cannot stand to be kept up half the night by the sound of their pet scratching fleas. Fleas are hard to control. Plan to treat the animal, the house, and the yard. The use of growth regulators will make a near impossible task, much easier. Expect about two weeks to get this pest managed.
  3. Boxwoods, a staple in many Lowcountry landscapes, is coming under attack by several diseases, mites, insects, and even nematodes. Yaupon hollies should be considered as a replacement or redesign the area completely.
  4. The summertime weeds are out in full force. Remember to read the product label for any heat restrictions and be sure to identify the weed you are trying to control. Goosegrass seems to be out in big numbers this year. Doveweed and sedges are up. Many, many broad-leaved weeds are up – spurge being one of the more disliked. Look at the label and see if it recommends the use of a surfactant (spreader sticker). A surfactant will help your success while trying to control weeds and other pests (fungus, mites, insects).
  5. While driving through neighborhoods before the recent rains, localized dry spots were very evident.  These are areas in the yard that turn that bluish gray color from lack of water.  New neighborhoods with young grass and poor soils seem to be most susceptible to these dry areas.  Exposed areas with lots of wind and areas at the beaches also are good candidates for these localized dry spots.  Adding organic matter to the soil (Cotton Burr Composts or SeaHume), wetting agents, or adjusting sprinkler heads will help with these dry areas.  Remember to water in the early a.m. before the wind picks up, so the grass will dry by nightfall.
  6. Moles seem to be particularly active this year.  They just had their young in April and now they are tunneling up a storm.  The young moles are hungry!  Manage the food source in your yard (grubs, mole crickets) with Lebanon Insect Control and go after the mole with Mole Patrol. 
  7. Be sure to change that dull mower blade from last year.  This will give your grass a cleaner cut and will allow less entry points for disease. Inspect your blade for nicks and damage if you are going to continue to use the same blade. Since a mower blade spin at very high speeds, any nicks or bends can lead to the blade being out of balance. When a blade is out of balance, the mower will vibrate (like your tire out of balance on your car) and you could damage the spindle and other parts of your mower that cost far more than a new blade.
  8. Look up at your trees. If you have any tree work that needs to be done, I would get it done as soon as possible.  Look for trees that have cavities at the base of the tree and look at the tops for broken limbs and weak crotch angles.  Have a tree care professional inspect your trees to be sure it is safe. Most tree companies will inspect for free. Try to get this done before the Lowcountry is in that cone for a direct hit for a hurricane! The tree companies are usually very busy by then. 
  9. As with all products, you should read and follow product labels.  More is not better when dealing with control products.  Measure your yard so you know your square footage and watch overlapping when applying your products.  Watch the weather forecast to ensure the products have a proper amount of time on your lawn prior to any rain.  If the product needs to be watered into the ground, a slow watering by a sprinkler is better than a gully washer from the sky.  A very hard rain can wash products into the storm water drains which are bad for the environment and you have wasted a lot of money.

      Also sweep or blow fertilizers or control products off of hard surfaces when you

      are finished applying them. In the case of fertilizer this may prevent staining, and most importantly it will keep products from washing through storm drains to the     marshes.

  1. With the dry weather we had earlier this year, spider mites have come out in full force. Be sure to use a product labeled for mites when trying to control these plant juice suckers. Mites are not insects, so all insecticides do not control them.
  2. Another plant juice sucker that is out in full force is the lace bug on Azaleas. If  the leaves look mottled, flip the leaf over and look very closely for the pest. The lace bug is small and well camouflaged so you might need a magnify glass. Dominion Tree and Shrub will give you long term control of this pest.


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