Posts Tagged ‘insect damage’

Milky Spore Lore & White Grubs in your lawn

According to a 2008 University of New Hampshire publication on Milky Spore disease, there are more reasons NOT to use this product than to use it in your home lawn.  Milky spore has been around for decades and was the first biological control means for Japanese beetle grubs.  Milky Spore comes in a powder and consists of a bacteria.  The first reason not to use milky spore was the design, it was manufactured to control ONLY Japanese beetle grubs- unfortunately there are many more!  Other turf damaging grubs in NH & VT include Asiatic beetles, European and masked chafers, June and May beetles and armyworms.  So now you understand that even if milky spore could work, you would be controlling one grub out of many, not good odds.

The second major issue not to use milky spore is you must have Japanese beetles in your lawn in sufficient numbers to promote the bacterial population enough to expand and spread out in the soil.  Therefore, if you do not have a large japanese beetle population, one where you would likely see damage- why bother?  The third reason not to use milky spore in NH and VT is the fact that soil temperature must be between 60 and 70 degrees for 3 months.  The high soil temperature necessary does not occur in our region and the bacteria can take over 4 to 5 years to build up, under ideal conditions, with a high population of Japanese beetles!  Wow!  You might want to go buy that lottery ticket today versus buying milky spore.

The Fourth reason not to use milky spore relates to how Japanese beetle grubs must ingest or eat the milky spore in the soil, not come into contact with, but eat it.  To summarize, even under ideal conditions, purchasing and using milky spore disease is a serious waste of money and time especially since there are more effective organic/biological methods like Nematodes. 

Nematodes are microscopic worms that are applied to the soil in a water spray.  The nematodes then swim and attack the grubs while swimming in water between the soil particles.  Nematodes will attack and destroy all of the grubs found in NH and VT listed above.  They will also attack sod webworms!  Since there is no “golden bullet”, Nematodes must be watered into the lawn or they will perish so that usually means applying them in the rain.  The soil must have sufficient moisture content and you must target the grubs at the right life cycle stage.  Having a professional apply Nematodes is the only true logistical option at this time, and our company does provide this service in our market area.

There are also a large range of new products on the market, some that do not even require a signal word because they are so applicator and environmentally friendly.  In some states like Vermont- you must have a pesticide license even if you are applying organic products since it is considered a pesticide even if it is organic.  Please keep in mind some organic products are just as dangerous or more so than some newer manufactured products.  There are several key points to remember before using any “pesticide”, the first being is a treatment required and why?  Secondly, what are the best material(s) to use for the job with the least impact to the environment and applicator.  Do we need to treat the entire lawn or just a portion of it?  Can we live with a small amount of damage and renovate later, only treating that one area or should we treat a larger area with a different product at a different time?  These are all questions best left to the professional because without knowing insect or disease life cycles, product components, mode of action, and application method- things can go wrong real quick.  This does not take into account the potential waste of material and use of a pesticide that should not have been used, regardless of composition.  Doing the right thing, at the right time is harder to do than you may think.

I do hope you have learned something new today or perhaps confirmed something you already believed in regarding grub control.  In any event, as fall fades into winter- be sure you are ready next spring because if you do have grubs- they will be waiting and you should have a game plan lined up this winter to address that very issue.  Thanks for visiting my humble blog!

Be sure to the visit this UNH video link  http://extension.unh.edu/agric/turf/media/lifecycl.htm

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Excessive grub activity is going undetected in NH lawns

If your lawn is brown, don’t assume it is merely drought damage or continued drought given the dry weather pattern in NH.  Many lawns are being eaten right now by white grubs of all kinds.  White grubs are in bountiful numbers given the past dry, hot weather in NH & VT.  Unfortunately, many homeowners and commercial locations are not aware of this damage which will continue well into early November.  Many landscapers do not have the education or proper state certification and licensing to diagnose and treat complex lawn problems.  Left unchecked, grub damage can destroy sections if not entire lawn areas within weeks to months if left untreated.  The news gets worse!  These grubs will hide and wait until next spring, then the feeding will start again!  Many brown turf areas can be infested with grubs because many will assume the area was caused by drought and high heat.  While this may be true for some, other lawns will continue the downward spiral without appropriate action this fall or at best next spring.

Look for animals digging like crows, ravens, or skunks at night.  The turf will be easily uprooted since the root system is being attacked and cannot grow fast enough to anchor the grass to the surface.  Focus on sunny areas, along driveways or walkways.  Hot, or sunny areas are prime locations for beetles to lay their eggs for the next generation.  Your grass may be brown mixed in with green but when exposed, the trained eye can find grubs of varying sizes and types.  There are many products which can be used to control grubs including chemicals and nematodes.  Each claims success under various conditions and instructions to the home owner.  Don’t assume that picking up a bag at Lowes or the Home Depot will insure results.  Unfortunately, there are many products aimed at specific periods in the life cycle of grubs so a bag of ”Grub X or Milky Spore” applied in the fall does not mean it will work.  You must read the label or call a professional to determine if your $30 investment will actually work or just make you feel good.  If in doubt ask- don’t simply apply materials to your lawn without understanding the ramifications, that would not be environmentally responsible.  While grass is important, what you do to the environment is more important.  This is why professionals like myself must train, take written plus verbal exams by state agencies, and work in the field to gain “real world” experience.

Don’t let brown areas go unchecked, go call or e-mail a reputable lawn care company like mine.  Speak with a local professional with appropriate licensing and experience to give you the real answer.  Your lawn need not be damaged with proper information to back up appropriate action!

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Prepare for fall lawn projects

September is almost here! What plans to you have for your grass this fall? If you are like most people, you know something should be done, but just don’t know what is important. Like most lawns, summer can be a tragic event with high heat, summer weeds, crabgrass, and browning- a distasteful combination for sure! Don’t lose hope, things can be done to turn your lawn around before winter. Fall is an ideal time to consider several applications that will give you the most for your green dollar.

Start simple. Don’t tackle a lawn project without starting out simple. An easy fall lawn treatment would be lime. Lime has a multitude of benefits and helps fertilizer function better. Like a great hair conditioner lime raises soil pH thereby making most fertilizer nutrients more available to the turf roots. Since it is difficult to apply too much lime, this is a simple, hard to mess up application for the most part. Try to use high calcium limes or at the very least, pelletized dolomitic limestone. Stay away from crushed limestone as it makes a mess and takes a very long time to actually work – months upon months vs weeks for the others I mentioned. So if you do anything this fall, put a good- heavy application of lime down to sweeten your soil.

As your brown lawn comes out of dormancy it will be looking for nutrients to begin the recovery process. Like a multivitamin in waiting, your lawn will benefit tremendously from a balanced- slow release fertilizer. Don’t worry so much about the analysis (the numbers like 10-5-19 etc), but try to select a nice balanced product. There are more fertilizer combinations than ice cream flavors so don’t be intimidated.

Aeration and overseeding are big fall treatments that can make substantial gains in a healthy lawn or one that has taken a hit due to drought and or thinning from disease or insect damage. Aeration will help with compaction, air, water, and nutrient availability plus it makes holes for overseeding.  Overseeding will not establish a lawn but it will add superior turf to an existing lawn or a thin one. Topdressing and seeding can be used at the same time for bare patches or if small sections of the lawn have perished. Don’t be too quick in pronouncing grass dead- just because things are brown does not indicate dead turf. Most turf will brown out as a normal protective measure due to heat and or lack of moisture. Lots of grass can break this dormant period after cooler weather and some significant rain- this process just takes time- patience is key.
On the other hand, extended drought- short mowing- and or insect damage may result in turf thinning to all out destruction in a variety of sizes. If you are in doubt- have a professional check and give you the diagnosis before starting over from scratch something that can be come very time-consuming and expensive.

Broadleaf weed control can be used once weeds begin to grow. Annual weeds like crabgrass and spurge will die out on its own. Remember, most broadleaf weed control products will stress out turf- so only use this material as needed and at the right time. In addition, if you use broadleaf weed control- seeding and or overseeding can be delayed or postponed many weeks due to incompatibility issues. As a home owner, you must decide whether to aerate and overseed first and wait on weed control, or do you go after the weeds first and then aerate and overseed later in the fall. This is a fine dance and timing is important due to the onset of cooler weather and approaching frost/snow in November. If in doubt, ask someone in this kind of business first for advice. Once the material is down, you cannot take it back up and the delay may very well mean a missed opportunity.

A winterizer or a late season fertilizer treatment is a great application to help your grass store up energy for next spring. A late season potassium treatment is different from a winterizer being a balanced product. Potassium normally comes in a 0-0-62 blend, not a balanced product as compared to a winterizer that would be a 25-8-15 for example. The key to a late season application is so you don’t push a lot of new growth this year, but allow the lawn to store up the energy for next spring as a reserve. Potassium helps thicken cell walls and makes your lawn more resistant to drought, disease, and winter damage. Both applications are most useful when applied properly.

I hope this small post has inspired you to plan your attack this fall, after all, it is still early and lots can be done! Don’t let the fall slip away into winter, do some research- ask some questions, and get that grass looking better for 2011!

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