June 30, 2016
In just a few days, the 4th of July will be here. The summer heat usually arrives in July and so do the insects that aim to destroy all the good work you have done planting your gardens. Let me tell you about some of the pests that are here and a few that will soon make an appearance in your yard.
There are times when you go out to your gardens and you will see that there is damage to the leaves of your plants. You will check the leaves closely, but you don’t see any insects. Day after day, you see more damage, but you never see any insects. The answer is that you have insects that only feed at night.
The creature that causes the most damage on your plants isn’t really an insect at all. Slugs and snails are more closely related to clams. If you go out after 10 PM and look at your plants, you will see the slugs. They are usually brown in color. They will feed all night on your plants and as the sun begins to rise, they will climb down from the plant and go into hiding for the day. One of their favorite foods is Hosta. Slugs have a mouth that cuts plant leaves in much the same way as a razor would make a cut. The cut usually has a very smooth edge. Slugs also secrete a slime that they use to glide along the ground or leaves as they move. If you see a shiny residue on the leaves of your plants, you can be pretty sure that slugs have been visiting your plants. The most effective control for slugs is using a product containing iron phosphate. Slugs are attracted to the iron phosphate, eat it and become sick almost immediately. They will die quickly after eating the iron phosphate. The brand we carry at the store is called Sluggo.
Another control method you can use is to apply diatomaceous earth around the base of your plants. This is a powder that acts like little razor blades that cut the slugs as they crawl across the diatomaceous earth. We carry this product as well in our store.
Another night feeding creature is the earwig. These are called pincher bugs by some because of the pincher like structure on the backside of the insect. Earwigs can do a lot of damage in a short period of time. As they eat, they scrape off the top surface of the leaf. This leaves a series of brown circles that can cover the leaf. There are many control methods for earwigs by we have found that by far, products that contain Spinosid are very effective at controlling earwigs. We have this product in our store in several forms.
The 4th of July is also about the time that Japanese beetles begin to arrive in our gardens. This iridescent green beetle is very destructive to many of our plants. They are the adult form of the white grubs that feed on your lawn. They emerge from the lawn around early July and feed heavily for a month or so. They will mate and the females will lay eggs in your lawn. The eggs hatch out in early September and the grubs feed on your lawn.
In the past few years, the reports of Japanese beetles have been so random. Some of our customers are overrun with them and other see few, if any, in their yards. Male Japanese Beetles will fly for up to ½ mile to find female beetles. Some people may disagree with me but I recommend that you set up Japanese beetle traps in your yard. The traps contain a floral scent that attracts both the male and female beetles. The trap also contains a lure that the female beetles give off to attract the males. The traps should be set up about 10 feet away from plants that the beetles like to eat. The bags on the trap should be changed regularly to keep the traps working effectively. My feeling is, the more beetles you catch in the trap, and the fewer there are to mate and ultimately to lay eggs in your lawn.
There are many different types of insecticides that will kill the adult beetles. You have to be careful because some of the insecticides are poisonous to bees. Some of the organic insecticides are more poisonous than some of the synthetic insecticides. If you need to spray your plants, you can stop by the store and we can help you to pick out the appropriate insecticide.
Now I have a favor to ask. Many people have come into the store with pictures they have taken of leaf damage or lawn damage. The problem with photos is that I cannot get a close enough look at the leaves or blades of grass to make an accurate determination of what the problem is. Please take some leaves or blades of grass and put them into a clear plastic bag. Please make sure the bag is sealed so that you are not going to infect our plants. This will allow me to make the most accurate determination of what is going on your plants or lawn.
Well, that’s all for this week. Have a happy and safe 4th of July. Our store will be open all weekend and we will be there on the 4th.
I’ll talk to you again next week.