Posts Tagged ‘organic grub control’

Organic lawn treatments in NH, what you need to know.

Are you considering some lawn treatments but you are concerned about the kids, pets, the environment, and general safety of what is going down around your house?  All of these concerns are valid with plenty of solutions available.  There are organic options to control lawn insects, diseases, and even reduce fertilizer demand.  Does choosing an organic pest control option give companies a free pass from obtaining the proper state licensing, insurance, and company certification?  Let’s find out!  I will not address education or background experience in this blog post- even though it is a very significant factor in choosing a lawn company (see prior blog posts for more information).

Let’s explore one scenario and see if you know the answer.  This fictitious company is based in NH only- however- VT has similar statues.

Doug hires Organic Landscapes (fictitious name) and assumes they have all the proper credentials’, after all; their pickup truck has a nice logo.  Doug hires Organic Landscapes to improve his lawn and still control some insects like grubs which he has had a problem with for years.  Doug agrees to a few basic fertilizer treatments, lime, and a grub control treatment- all organic.  Does Organic Landscapes need a NH Supervisory and perhaps an Operational pesticide license?

Yes.

What Doug does not realize is any claim made to control a pest requires significant state licensing, insurance, and certification.  An easy way to determine if a company is certified in NH is to look at the truck itself.  Any state certified company will have 2” black letters on the service vehicles showing “NHPC” followed by a registration number unique to that business.  If the truck(s) lack this, they either are not licensed, perhaps are pretending to be- or forgot.  In this case, there is no NHPC number on the trucks because Organic Landscapes does not realize they even need this certification.

While you may not need a license or any of the aforementioned qualifications to treat your own lawn, if you are doing it “for hire” – money, the business must hold the proper credentials when controlling pests- organic or not in NH.  This goes for spraying weeds with vinegar, applying oils to control surface insects like chinch bugs, or botanical extracts to knock back red thread disease.

Before you consider any lawn care program change, be sure to inquire about how long the company has been in business, its reputation, its insurance, its certifications and so forth.  If this article has your juices flowing for more- check out my earlier BBB blog post and why a good rating and accreditation is vital.  I have several more blog posts on just how to select a lawn company and why you should consider these factors in your final decision.  Thanks for visiting!

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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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