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What to do this week
By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening” on 970WFLA Live on Sunday’s 7-9am
Problems with grubs, aphids, and scales in your lawn and landscape need to be addressed
Now that summer is officially here, it seems like there has been an explosion of insect activity throughout our landscapes. Tampa residents are seeing an insurgence of Grubs, Aphids, and Scales coming out of the woodwork to feed on our lawns and gardens. In this article, I will go over a few simple control options you can employ to try to keep ahead of the destruction these pests can deliver. I will also let you know a few tricks of the trade in detecting and treating these insects on our lawns and landscape plants. Let’s get started.
Homeowners living along the Pinellas County intercostal waterways and those of you that have had grub problems in the past, need to treat your lawns for grubs now. Grubs are the larval stage of a beetle. Right now, they are burrowing their way up from their winter resting areas ten to sixteen inches below the surface of the soil to feed on the tender roots of your lawns and plants. For reasons even I do not understand, homeowners along the beaches have always had more severe infestations of these insects and their voracious appetites than those of us further inland. The only time you can control these insects are when they are in the upper six to eight inches of the soil. I refer to this region of the soil as the “feeding zone.”
Once grubs begin feeding on the roots, control products can be applied. I am going to recommend three separate insecticides you can purchase to control these pests. The first two are called Dylox 2G and Arena .25G. Both of these materials are granules and you will need a spreader to apply them. I use these products because they are very effective in controlling grubs, mole crickets, and chinch bugs if used properly. Please read the label for proper application rates. Dylox 2G will only kill the grubs that are in the top six to eight inches of soil. If the grubs are not actively feeding on the roots, then you will be wasting your time and money using this product and additional applications will be necessary. Arena .25G can be applied up to a month before grubs start feeding. The active ingredient in this product remains viable in the soil much longer than Dylox 2G, so choose your products carefully. Both of these materials need to be watered in with one inch of water following application.
The third product I recommend is truly a next-generation insecticide. This product is called Triple Crown T&O. You will not find this product at the local box store or garden center. You can only purchase this from a Do-it-Yourself Pest Control store or from online sites. This liquid product will control just about any lawn pest you will ever have in the landscape. Although this product is expensive, you will find that its performance speaks for itself. If the time you spend on taking care of pests in the landscape is valuable to you, then this is your product. Although this product will not kill grubs located below the “feeding zone,” it is much easier to apply. Be sure to read all label instructions and follow them to the letter.
The last insect pests I want to talk about are aphids and scales. There has been an explosion of these pests on almost every landscape plant we have in our yards. Aphids feed primarily on new growth while scales like the older growth of plants, and their stems. Some of these insects are hard to spot so you will need to spend additional time looking for them. I inspect my plants by spreading the foliage apart and examining the stems, the branches, and the underside of the leaves. Aphids are easy to detect as their bright coloration can aid you in spotting them. Some of the colors you may find are black, yellow, and orange. Scales are harder to find and require much more inspection time. Normally, only the adult scales can be seen as they are large enough to be spotted. Young scale crawlers are much harder to see because they are very small. Control measures for these insects vary due to their different body types.
Aphids are relatively easy to control as their bodies are soft and unprotected. Scales, on the other hand, are protected by their waxy coatings, which normally require follow-up applications once spotted in the landscape. Do not use Malathion and Oil, Neem Oil, or Paraffin Oil sprays this time of year. High temperatures may react with these products and will likely defoliate your plants as well as kill the insects. I recommend Bifenthrin, Malathion 50, or Meridian for use on landscape plants infested with these insects. Read the label first and mix accordingly. Begin spraying around the base of the stem for ants then move up the branches and treat around the plant from underneath making sure the bottom of the leaves are fully treated. Finish spraying on the outside of the plant and spray to runoff. All plants should be sprayed in the morning after being well watered the night before.
Grubs, Aphids, and Scales can be a real problem if left untreated. Inspect all of your plants regularly and treat as soon as a problem develops. Enjoy your garden and remember, without plants, we would not be here.