Posts Tagged ‘nematodes’

Grubs are eating your lawn right now!

Grub damage in a lawn

Grubs love a sunny lawn with warm soil

 

 

Grubs in your lawn right now and into the fall are likely hidden beneath brown grass.  While crows and skunks may alert you to this lawn problem, grubs are growing fat thanks to the hot, dry summer.  Grubs destroy the root system (or whatever it is they do!) so it is important to take action against this lawn pest. What is a home owner to do?

Take action this fall before winter arrives.  To reduce the grub population, your lawn can be sprayed several times with cedar oil for an organic approach or more traditional products can be applied. One hundred percent control should not be expected since the larger the grub, the harder they are to knock down.  Any reduction in the population will be helpful, especially if you have animals digging on a nightly basis.  The same method of grub reduction can be employed next spring for additional results.  I do not normally endorse wide spread use of preventative action toward insects in general, mostly because in a normal year insects are usually kept in balance. However, this dry, hot year is anything but normal, so added control measures are certainly prudent.  The best approach for lawns with a history of insect damage would be to consider a preventative treatment in 2013 which will provide the highest degree of satisfaction.

If your lawn has experienced severe damage, renovations are better done this fall including seeding, topdressing, liming, and fertilizing to help set the stage for 2013.  Failure to repair damage this fall means you miss out on warm soil, cool nights, and generally warm days; ideal grass growing weather.  An added bonus is the absence of annual weeds and crabgrass which will not interfere with fall seeding results compared to waiting for the spring of 2013 when they will thrive.  In general, seeding is best done in the fall because of these important factors.

If you suspect your brown lawn has more than a water issue, give your local turf expert a call and get it checked out before you carve that Halloween pumpkin!

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Lawn pests include grubs in NH & VT

The Japanese beetle will not only eat foliage, the grubs will eat your lawn!

There are about eight major types of grubs in NH and VT that cause turf damage, ranging from the classic Japanese beetle to a masked chafer.  Grubs will cause lawn damage plus the adults will devour ornamental shrubs and trees in your landscape.  The potential loss of your investment makes controlling the young and adult stage of these beetles a sensible decision.  Luckily, there are organic and new products available to help control these villains plus many others!

As always, the best defense is a good offense.  Healthy turf can withstand root pruning and even minor damage without a pesticide being applied – even an organic one.  Proper cultural practices, such as proper irrigation and a high 3” mowing height, also help keep your lawn cooler and less desirable to adult beetles.  Overseeding with resistant turf varieties makes the grass taste less desirable, not necessarily to grubs but to their buddies above ground like chinch bugs, sod webworm and such.

New and old research shows that compost tea actually helps grass develop its own immune response to reduce damage from both insect and disease activity. Although not an easy turf treatment, beneficial nematodes provide 100% organic control in the spring or fall.  Milky spore disease was developed a long time ago to control only Japanese beetle grubs, not the other seven.  Unfortunately, the spores take years to develop due to the cold New England winters.  As a result, Milky spore is not recommended by professionals as it simply does not work in NH or VT.

New organic pesticides that are ORMI certified contain capcaisin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. To obtain good results, and because the organic treatments are short-lived, multiple visits are required in the spring and fall to obtain predictable results.  Even organic pesticides require extensive licensing and certification in both NH and VT.  If you are considering “professional help,” be sure to ask for the company’s NHPC number in NH or license certification in VT before having any treatment done on your property- organic or otherwise!  The potential damage inflicted by an application remains substantial, even if the material used is 100% organic, with improper rates, training, and equipment.  In today’s economy, everyone with a pickup truck claims he is an organic landscaper but doesn’t have the credentials, insurance, or education to back up the temporary lettering.

For those ‘do-it-yourself’ folks, be careful what you purchase and use this spring.  For instance, “Grubex” is another name for Acelypryn, a great new product for controlling grubs and other harmful insects.  Unfortunately, if used at the wrong time, your application will not work due to the size and life stage of the pest you may desire to eliminate.  This factor underscores the importance of proper training and state certification where turf technicians must learn not only insect but local disease pests.

While the bag you buy at your hardware store may be well labeled for grubs, you may not be applying it at the right time or stage of the pest.  Said another way, just because the bag says it controls pests X, Y, and Z does not mean you are going to control them due to the time of year.  This type of activity would be the definition of a waste of money, time, and chemical.  Without the proper information on the life cycle of the pest you seek to destroy or reduce, applying home products is like shooting in the dark.

In summary, there are lots of ways to help your lawn look great, with the best and least environmental impact being the cultural and day to day upkeep of the turf.  Integrating resistant grasses during lawn overseeding/establishment and implementing organic or natural bacterial and friendly fungi are super tools with no harmful side effects.  In my opinion, pesticides should only be used as a last resort or when there may be a history of continual damage on a scale that would outweigh the omission of such products.  In other words, a $400 treatment outweighs a $5,000 renovation!

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White grub suppression in your lawn

White grubs, a lawn problem

 

I say white grub population control because most folks will reach for the rifle the instant they see 1 or 2.  The fact remains that many more grubs should be visible before conducting warfare (9-12/sqft).  There are about 8 major types of grubs in NH/VT that cause turf damage ranging from the classic Japanese beetle to a masked chafer.

As always, the best defense is a good offense.  Healthy turf can withstand root pruning and even minor damage without a pesticide being applied.  Proper cultural practices also help keep your lawn cooler and less desirable to adult beetles like irrigation and a high mowing height.  Overseeding with resistant turf varieties can also help the turf taste less desirable, not necessarily for grubs but their buddies above ground like chinch bugs, sod webworm and such.

New and old research shows us that some compost tea/seed inoculation treatments actually help grass develop its own immune response to reduce damage from both insect and disease activity.  Beneficial nematodes, although not any easy turf treatment; provides 100% organic control by using these microscopic predatory worms in the spring or fall.  Milky spore disease was developed a long time ago to control only Japanese beetle grubs, not the other 7.  Unfortunately, the spores take years to spread/develop and the cold New England winters don’t allow for this disease to function well at all.  

There are new oil blend pesticides which are also organic or natural in composition which show promising results to white grub population control in a lawn setting.  The more traditional pesticides function in a variety of ways and vary in results.  Utilizing newer products over older ones are important to help reduce chemical resistance over time.  When using any pesticide, whether organic or synthetic- it is always important to read the label and use the product at the recommended rates as good environmental stewards.  Using the wrong product for the wrong pest is not only a massive waste of time; it’s a waste of money and most likely will harm beneficial insects.

In summary, there are lots of ways to help your lawn look great, with the best and least environmental impact being the cultural and day-to-day upkeep of the turf.  Integrating resistant grasses during lawn overseeding/establishment and implementing organic or natural bacterial and friendly fungi are super tools with no harmful side effects.  In my opinion, pesticides should only be used as a last resort or when there may be a history of continual damage in a scale that would outweigh the omission of such products.  In other words, a $400 treatment outweighs a $25,000 renovation for sure!

Control measures come back to each of our own expectations and threshold level of acceptable damage.  Are you willing to accept a little damage and forego pesticides or are you more inclined to try some organic options?  Planning now allows you to look at all available control measures since many have a narrow window of application and good results.

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