Archive for the ‘Bugs’ Category
It has been an excellent year for insects with the heat and rain we have received. Most plants have had their share of insects including Sego Palms. Owners of Sego Palms must take special notice and care to protect their palms from an infestation of Asian Cycad Scale. The scale appears as small white lines all over the base of the palm moving up to the fronds.
Insert cycad scale 1 image
This particular type of scale is very aggressive and difficult to control. It spreads quickly, through the air and through the soil attacking the root system. Cycad Scale will kill your plant and at a fast pace. Catching it early is the first step. Second and third; you will need not only an on-contact control, but you will need a systemic control. Horticultural oil can be used to smother the visible insects. All Seasons Spray Oil or any other horticultural oil will work well. A product with Malathion as the active ingredient is another on-contact control. A systemic insecticide with an active ingredient of Acephate should also be used to control any scale in the soil on the root system.
If some of the fronds are completely infested don’t be afraid to cut them off and dispose of them in a sealed garbage bag. Additional treatments may be required. Please be kind and don’t spread the bugs.
In honor of it being that spooky, creepy-crawly time of year, when our nightmares come to life and scenarios from only the scariest of horror movies are set up all over town in the form of haunted houses, I thought it would be fun to gross you out a little and tell you all about the haunted house you have right in your own backyard. Be glad you’re not insect-sized, or you’d be hiding under your tiny bed!
The insect world is full of all kinds of characters that are perfect for Halloween. One particularly yucky group are called parasites. Just the mention of the name grosses me out! There are all different kinds of parasites- some just quietly live off of their host, some are able to manipulate their hosts’ behaviors, and some will even eventually kill their host when they are no longer needed.
If you have a vegetable garden, or are growing tomato plants, you have probably seen a tomato hornworm. These large, fat, bright green caterpillars with a curved horn on their rear are a common pest that will eat all of the leaves off of your tomato plants, reducing them to stubs in a day. While they may be annoying, they do also serve a purpose in the web of life, as one of the favorite hosts for a kind of parasitic wasp. Parasitic wasps are tiny, beneficial predators that help to naturally control the populations of pest species that would otherwise destroy your plants or require endless spraying with insecticides. They target aphids, webworms, tent caterpillars, grubs, borers, mealy bugs, and many other pests. Parasitic wasps are common everywhere, but are generally so small, quiet and mild-mannered, you’ve probably never noticed them. In the case of the hornworm, they’re not so nice and gentle. (que ominous laughter)Hornworms play an important role in the completion of the life cycle of the parasitic wasps. A female wasp will find a young unsuspecting hornworm caterpillar and inject her eggs just under its skin. When the eggs hatch, the wasp larvae begin feeding on the insides of the caterpillar. They will eat until they can literally chew themselves out of the caterpillar’s skin. Yuck! At this point, the wasps make tiny white egg-shaped cocoons all over the surface of the still barely alive caterpillar and will emerge soon after as more adult wasps ready to search for their next victims. Their existing caterpillar host will die soon after they emerge, typically from loss of internal organs…
Another creepy and interesting group of insects you can commonly find in your own backyard are assassin bugs. These are another beneficial group you should welcome with open arms- unless you’re a fly, caterpillar, or other kind of bug! Assassin bugs get their name because of the way they kill their prey. They are built with some pretty crazy accessories. When they find a bug they’d like to eat, they impale it with their medieval sword-like mouthpart. They then inject their prey with a chemical that temporarily paralyzes while also liquefying its insides. These creepy killers then slurp out their liquid meal, leaving nothing but an empty shell behind. Some super-barbaric assassin bugs will even take it a step further and throw the empty carcass up on their back and glue it into place to wear as its own tiny Halloween costume. Some of these guys have been seen carrying around huge piles of glued on dead bug victims. Pretty creepy and disgusting if you ask me….and perfect for Halloween!
Insects like these prove that you just never know what you will find when you enter the insect realm, or what might be lurking just outside your door right now!
Interested in a little more scary insect information? Come see me this Saturday at Enchanted Forest from 10am-noon and Enchanted Gardens from 2pm-4pm. I will have my collection of live hissing cockroaches, millipedes, Peter Parker the tarantula, and Pickle the whiptail scorpion. Pose for a picture with a roach or touch a millipede if you’re feeling brave! Leave sporting a new (temporary) bug tattoo and be sure to enter our contest for a great prize. In keeping with the bug theme, we’ll be featuring some great Lady Bug brand products with some fun freebies and giveaways! There will also be a few other creepy surprises in store that you will just have to come see to believe! See ya’ll Saturday!
For those of you who have been affected by Sod Webworm, or any other stress of the long summer, you may have noticed your lawn may be looking less than perfect lately. Ignoring it could come with a large price tag. Weeds and bare brown patches may be the most obvious consequences.
To control the weeds synthetically, it is safe to use Weed Beater for Southern Lawns as long as the weather is below 90 degrees. For the organic enthusiasts, Crabgrass Killer or Horticultural Vinegar can be applied directly to the existing weeds any time of year. Also, good old fashioned pulling the weeds out is extremely effective.
Weeds may not be the only problem you will face in the next several weeks. With the warm days and cool nights fungus is beginning to brew. You will want to protect what grass you may have left and strengthen it so next year you won’t be suffering from all issues that affect weak lawns. First fertilize with a low-nitrogen lawn fertilizer. Nitro Phos Fall Fertilizer 8-12-16, Turf Food with Mycorrihzal Fungi 4-2-2, and MicroLife 6-2-4 are all good options. Nitrogen increases the probability of getting Brown Patch.
Prevention is key. To prevent weeds from appearing in the spring Nitro Phos Barricade can be applied right now. A healthy lawn will push out any chance of weeds and prevent insect and fungal infestations. Strengthening the root system in your lawn is essential for health. Add Cotton Burr Compost or humates to your lawn to break up clay soils, increase microbial activity, and strengthen root systems. Soil Menders Stimulate and MicroLife Humates Plus are products with humates.
Last night while letting my dog use the bathroom in my backyard, I momentarily felt like I was in some strange indie rock, bug-related music video. The sun was setting, and each step I took released a cloud of little white moths out of the grass to flutter all around me. The novelty of the situation wore off pretty quickly once it hit me that they were the by-product of sod webworms…. Are you kidding me nature?!?!?! In the time frame of about a month and a half, I’ve had to battle fire ants, chinch bugs, and now, sod webworms. Is there some kind of badge or bragging rights I get for this? Like when you catch a redfish, trout, and flounder all in one fishing trip to the coast? Should I post a selfie with my grass on Facebook?
All kidding aside- I’m guessing that if I get to enjoy all these wonderful insects, you probably do too. Here’s the scoop on what to do if you are walking through moth-filled grass as well.
Sod webworms begin their lives over-wintering in your lawn in little tunnels. Once temperatures start to warm up in the spring, they end their hibernation and begin feeding on turf grass as they grow and mature. Once they’re full grown, the worms pupate in little cocoons and emerge 1 to 2 weeks later as moths in the summer. Once they have found a mate, females fly low over the lawn scattering eggs. Here’s the bad news…each female can lay several hundred eggs. Within a week, all of these eggs will hatch and worms will resume feeding on your lawn. They can have up to 3 generations a year in our area.
If you are just seeing browning in your lawn and trying to determine the cause of the damage, try looking down in the grass and see if you see any little worms feeding on the blades of grass. Another good indicator is if you are seeing little piles of green wet-looking balls stuck to the grass blades or down in the grass. That would be webworm poop. Gross! Don’t touch it! You can also spray a suspicious looking patch of damaged grass with insecticidal soap. The soap will irritate the webworms and cause them to come up to the surface level of the grass where they can be spotted and annihilated.
Now for the good news- they sod webworms be controlled and killed relatively easily and organically. Once you have moths, they won’t be feeding on your lawn- you don’t necessarily have to worry about trying to kill them. What you want to plan for is the generation of web worms that will hatch about a week after you see the moths. These are the guys that are going to cause the damage and are also the easiest part of the webworm life cycle to kill.
I would recommend using a product containing Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), spinosad, insecticidal soap, or in severe cases pyrethrin or bifenthrin. The easiest way to apply these products is to spray in liquid form on your lawn. Be sure to spray in the late afternoon or evening, as webworms generally do most of their feeding at night and you want to make sure they ingest the poison. Should you decide to use a granular application, be sure to water in the granules immediately after spreading? I would make my first application one week to 10 days after seeing lots of moths. Just for extra insurance, I’d make a second application at the 2 week mark, and then also at any time during the season if I notice that more webworms have appeared.
Enchanted is stocked with lots of webworm killing options and ready to help you with all of your lawn care needs. Come see us!
When it comes to grubs, timing is everything. Right now, as John Grisham might say, is a time to kill.
The little white ‘C’ shaped insects you sometimes find while digging in your yard or flowerbeds are the immature stage of several types of beetles. Adult beetles lay their eggs in the ground during the summer. As soon as the eggs hatch, the grubs that emerge begin feeding on roots, thatch, and other organic material. This becomes a problem in regard to our lawns, because typically after a few months of drought stress and scorching heat, sod isn’t in its best condition to begin with. Little grubs munching away at the roots can lead to brown dead spots and areas of spongy turf that can be easily rutted or damaged.
Once the weather gets colder, the grubs will dig down up to 8 inches to overwinter. At this point, feeding has stopped, and they are too deep for insecticides to be effective. This means that your window for successfully ridding your lawn of grubs is now through October- depending on how quickly it cools off.
So then the question becomes, do you have a grub problem? The easiest way to test, if you are concerned that they might be the culprits in current lawn damage, is to dig up a small section of grass and look under it. A 1ft x 1ft section should do the trick. Some grubs are present in every yard and aren’t an immediate cause for concern, but if you count more than 10-15 in that square foot area, you may want to consider some form of treatment.
For organic gardeners, there are nematodes that can be purchased online and shipped directly to your house for biological grub control. (They can also be special ordered via Enchanted- come talk to me if you’re interested) When ordering nematodes, make sure that you get a variety labeled specifically for grubs. They also sell ones that target fleas and other pests…but that’s another blog.
Chemical control methods for grubs include preventative treatments and curative treatments. A curative treatment is best for this time of year if grubs are found to be present in large numbers and are causing damage. I tend to caution against preventative treatments unless you live on the 18th hole of a golf course, have suffered significant grub damage in past years, or have had a huge population of beetles honeymooning on your lawn in the last year. With preventative treatments, you are applying insecticide before you even know if you have a problem. Since only a small percentage of lawns actually need treatment annually, you’re probably spending money and applying chemicals unnecessarily. I know far too many people who have the annual shopping list of nasty chemicals that they pick up from the store to spread around their homes in their lawns just because they think that’s the right thing to do as a homeowner. Preventative grub killer is a good example – costly and mostly unnecessary. If you don’t have a problem in your lawn, skip that stuff!
If you do have a problem, come see us at Enchanted. We have stocked several curative insecticides that will rid your lawn of grubs. My recommendation would be to use an insecticide containing the active ingredient Carbaryl. Some recent research conducted by several university studies suggests that products containing only the active ingredients Bifenthrin or Permethrin may not be as effective when treating grubs due to their tendency to bind with organic matter in the environment, making it difficult to penetrate down to the layer where the grubs are feeding. Follow the directions on the label of your product of choice and be sure to irrigate with half an inch of water immediately after application. Mowing right before treatment also helps the insecticide reach the soil more quickly and cuts off any flowers on weeds that might be blooming and could introduce toxins to local bees searching for nectar.
Come visit us for more information on application rates, or if you have any additional questions- we’ll be glad to help!
Is your tropical backyard oasis looking a little less than resort-like? The heat can really take a toll on our home landscapes. Drought conditions surely affect the beauty and productivity of our plants, but now is also a prime time for insect infestations. I’ve found, as I sit in my chair enjoying the air conditioning and peering out my window, that even when I put on my eye glasses, I still can’t see the mealy bugs stealthily creeping onto my hibiscus. I’m tempted to pretend that the yellowing and dropping of buds could just be the first sign of an early fall, but alas, we both know better….
Right now, mealy bugs are in their element. Un-accosted, they are happy to bake out in the sun while feasting away on tasty plants in your garden. The current trend in mealy bug fine-dining seems to be hibiscus in particular. They infest the buds and destroy the newly formed flowers before they get the chance to open. Unfortunately, now is the time to venture out and inspect your hibiscus if you have them in your landscape. Sorry to make you sweat! If you’re like me and you find mealy bugs during your inspection, there are several solutions that should be relatively easy and require minimal outdoor effort.
Mealy bugs are soft-bodied insects with no shell or hard outer coating. They instead are covered with a cotton-like substance that is mostly made of the undigested material that they suck out of your plants. It acts as a protective barrier against predators and many insecticidal sprays. Don’t worry though, you can beat them!
For the organic gardeners, I suggest insecticidal soap. Safer brand makes an excellent insect killing soap. It works by dissolving the cottony outer layer and waxy cuticle of the mealy bug and kills them by dehydration or suffocation.
If organic isn’t your game, look for an insecticide labeled ‘systemic’. This means that the plant will absorb the toxin and kill the mealy bugs as they feed. This method may take a little longer for the initial killing effect, but the after effect will last longer.
While we’re on the topic of hibiscus turning yellow- mealy bugs aren’t the only cause. I have been the proud owner of some beautiful ones in the past that I am convinced turned yellow and died mostly because they were miserable, hateful plants. (I’m sure it couldn’t have possibly been my fault!!) Don’t let that scare you though! Hibiscus make beautiful, tropical accents to your landscape and can be easy to grow and care for once you understand each other.
Aside from a few native species, most hibiscus hate to be wet all the time. Overwatering can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. They also do not like to be totally dry, so please don’t withhold water to the point of drought stress. Hibiscus love the sun. Deeply shaded areas or trying to keep them as houseplants will generally not work out too well. When they are blooming they like fertilizer, so feed them if their leaves start to loose their deep green color.
Other pests can also attack. Thrips and aphids are two that love a good hibiscus flower. If you see black sooty mold on the leaves of your hibiscus, it is a good sign that you have an insect problem. Aphids can be treated with the same products that I recommended for mealy bugs. Thrips can be detected by tapping hibiscus buds and blooms over a sheet of white paper. If they are present, tiny pinhead sized insects will fall out on the paper and run around. A better organic control for thrips is a product containing the active ingredient, Spinosad, such as Captain Jack’s Dead Bug.
Periodic insect checks and average water with lots of sunlight seem to be the key to a happy hibiscus. Both Enchanted locations have plenty of beautiful ones in stock. Come visit us, have a popsicle and make your yard more tropical!
Dead patches in your lawn could be occurring right now for a number of reasons. Lack of water, fungal diseases, inadequate nutrients, places where Fido takes his bathroom breaks, or insects, could all be possible culprits. Lately, we’ve had quite a few of you bringing in pictures of dead areas in your lawn while expressing frustration because you have fertilized, and checked for broken sprinkler heads, and even spread fungicide to no avail. My next question is always, “Have you checked for chinch bugs?”
Many people don’t know that there is a quick and easy test you can do at home to find out if these annoying little pests have invaded your yard. It is called the ‘Flotation Method’. Here’s how you do it.
First, remove the top and bottom of a metal coffee can (or some other metal can from your recycle bin) so that you have a hollow metal cylinder.
In an area where the discoloration in your sod is starting, press the can 2-3” into the grass and soil.
Next, pour water into the can so that it is full, but not overflowing. You may need to refill once or twice if it absorbs into the grass too quickly. Within 2-5 minutes, some tiny bugs (about the size of a large pencil led) will float to the surface if chinch bugs are present. There are lots of videos and descriptions online if you need more information in regard to performing this test.
So your can is full of bugs- now what?!?!
According to the experts at Texas A&M, control of chinch bugs starts with proper lawn care. Chinch bugs love to live in thatch- the dead plant material layer between green grass and the soil. They suggest keeping thatch to a minimum by mowing once a week during the growing season, not over fertilizing (no more than 3-4lbs of nitrogen per 1,000sqft per year), and applying the proper amount of water to prevent drought stress.
Chemical insecticides, when used according to label recommendations, provide effective control for chinch bugs. Something to keep in mind though- as with any other pests that attack your plants, there are natural predatory insects in your yard that kill them most of the time. Having these predatory insects in your yard and garden is absolutely necessary for building a healthy ecosystem and preventing constant pest outbreaks. With that being said, frequent blanket treatment of insecticides that are advertised to kill all insects for long periods of time are probably going to do more harm than good in the long run.
So what do you do? Enchanted Nurseries offer several solutions. Granular insecticides such as Nitrophos Bug Out Max can be applied to your lawn using a fertilizer spreader. After spreading, irrigate or spray the lawn with your hose to activate the insecticide. We also offer a liquid spray, Bonide Eight Yard & Garden, that is available for mixing yourself in a sprayer or simply attaching to the end of your hose and spraying. Most hose-end sprayers can apply 15-20 gallons of water per 1,000sqft per container. You won’t need to irrigate after this application method.
If you only have a few areas where you are seeing chinch bug damage, it is OK to ‘spot treat’. Treat the off color and dying turf and the surrounding area near it. Closely monitor the treated areas for two weeks after treatment to make sure that it was effective and that the damage isn’t spreading.
Both nursery locations are stocked and ready to help you back on the road to a beautiful, green lawn just in time for fall! Come visit us, enjoy a free popsicle, and get rid of those chinch bugs!
By: Team Green Grass
It’s getting hot out there and our lawns are starting to show it. This time of year (July and August) lawns in Southeast Texas are susceptible to insects and a Grey Leaf Spot fungus. Here are some things you might look for if your lawn is looking like it may be struggling.
Yellow or Brown patches may indicate an insect issue or a chemical burn.
- Chinch Bugs
- Yellowing or browning of grass near sidewalks, driveways, or hot spots in lawn (areas with no shade).
- Spray water on edge of spot and look closely to see little black with a white stripe bug. Looks like a tiny beetle.
- Treatment (Spray chemicals in evening and let dry for 20 hours)
- Liquid Bifenthrin (3 applications 5-7 days apart)
- Cyonara (3 applications 5-7 days apart)
- Sod Webworms
- Yellowing or browning of grass
- Grass appears to have been cut shorter in infected area
- When walking through grass tiny white moths fly up
- Spread thatch to see spider-like webs and tiny green worms
- Treatment (Spray chemicals in evening and let dry for 20 hours)
- BT (3 applications 5-7 days apart)
- Liquid Bifenthrin (3 applications 5-7 days apart)
- Cyonara (3 applications 5-7 days apart)
- Ant hills
- Monterey Ant Killer (Spinosad) treats worker ants
- Orange Oil treats the mound
- Bug Out
- Nitro Phos Fire Ant
- Grey Leaf Spot Fungus
- Grey spot with a dark halo on grass blades
- Cotton Burr Compost
- Actino Iron
- Eagle Turf Fungicide
- Chemical Burn
- Strips or patches of yellow or brown grass
- Recent chemical application including fertilizer and herbicide
- Washing excess salts out with water
- Apply thin layer of Cotton Burr Compost
- Lawn Maintenance
- Water deep and less frequently before 9 a.m.
- Cut grass high and often
- Keep lawn mower blades sharp to prevent pulling
“Can you help me? There is something wrong with my citrus tree.”
“Can you help me? There is something wrong with my citrus tree.”
This is the most commonly asked question at the nursery lately. We’ve been seeing lots of your citrus leaf samples, hearing stories about curled and deformed leaves, and ‘race track’ lines or translucent trails all over the leaves.
These symptoms are caused by leaf miners. Here’s what you need to know:
Leaf miners are the larval form of a family of several different types of flies. Once eggs are laid and hatch on the underside of leaves, the larva feed between the upper and lower surface of the leaf. This causes the little lines and curling that we’re all seeing now. The larva feed for 2-3 weeks and then drop out of the leaf into the soil below, where they emerge 15 days later to start the whole process over again.
How do we prevent and get rid of them?
Before any signs of damage to citrus leaves, use yellow sticky traps on and around the tree to catch the egg-laying adults before they can lay their eggs. There are also citrus leaf miner traps that are similar to the yellow sticky traps. These use a pheromone to trap the leaf miner flies. Note that these pheromone traps are used more as an indicator of leaf miner presence, not as an eradication measure, so that you will know when they are present and when it’s time to take more serious action in protecting your citrus leaves using horticultural oils or other chemical methods.
Horticultural oil is our organic, ‘go-to’ treatment recommendation.
In the spring (or during the growing season) as new, bright green growth appears, spray it with horticultural oil once every few weeks to suffocate larva as they hatch inside the leaves. Continue this spray treatment until the leaves have matured and turned from bright green to a darker green. Once they are older leaves, they aren’t as soft and tasty to the larva, so they’re unlikely to be attacked. Be sure to hit the underside of the leaves with each treatment.
What to do now that the damage is already done?
First, if possible, trim off badly damaged leaves, seal them in a bag, and throw them away. Trimming should inspire new growth, which should be treated with horticultural oil as explained above. *Be advised not to spray oils during the day in the heat of the summer as it can burn the leaves.*
It’s also worth noting that in all but the most extreme cases, leaf miners are not going to severely harm or kill your citrus trees. Their damage is mostly cosmetic and may not require any treatment at all if you don’t mind looking at a few ugly leaves.
With that being said, if you are concerned about the appearance of your tree or have a large enough infestation that it is affecting your trees productivity, Enchanted nurseries are fully stocked with everything you need to combat your leaf miner problem. Aside from horticultural oil, sprays containing Spinosad (Captain Jack’s Dead Bug) or pyrethrin (Fox Farm Don’t Bug Me) have also been shown to be effective treatments for leaf miners.