Gulf Coast Pest Control

Chat now or call us today 850.785.8844

Blog

We’ve been seeing ALOT of sod webworms lately….

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

What’s Eating My Lawn?

What’s eating my lawn? Does your grass look ragged in areas, as if someone randomly used a weed-eater here and there? Are you noticing brown patches that have a closely clipped appearance compared to other areas of your lawn? Your turf may be playing host to Tropical Sod Webworm.

Sod webworm damage in a home lawn. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

Sod webworm damage in a home lawn. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

Sod webworm damage is subtle at first. You have to look closely to notice larval feeding damage. However, an easy indication of their presence is the light tan/brown colored moths, which are the adult stage of the pest. You may see them fly up as you walk through your lawn or if you disturb a nearby bush. The moths do not cause any damage to the turf, but they are depositing eggs, which will result in their offspring, the caterpillars, who do all the chewing damage.

The larvae are gray-green and have spots on each segment. The mature larvae can be up to 1 inch in length. Larvae will curl up in the soil during the day and feed at night. So if you happen to notice caterpillars feeding during the day, it’s probably not sod webworm. You will notice chewed notches along the leaf blade, holes in the leaf and even leaf blade skeletonizing. The older the larvae are, the more they will eat. Damage may start out as a ragged appearance in your turf, which can be hard to diagnose. However, if left unchecked, sod webworm can cause considerable injury to your lawn.

Sod webworm larvae. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

Sod webworm larvae. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

If you are uncertain of their presence you can always use a soap drench to flush out larvae. Mix 2 tablespoons of dish soap with 2 gallons of water and pour it over a damaged area (about 3 square ft.). The soap mixture will irritate the pest and bring them to the surface so you can easily identify them. If nothing appears in the area tested move to another damaged site and try again. Here is a link to a video that will give more information on identifying Tropical Sod Webworm.

Tropical Sod Webworm is considered a pest of all warm-season turfgrasses. However, St. Augustinegrass is most commonly affected. The best way to prevent a pest infestation is to use proper cultural maintenance practices for your lawn type. However, if the pest does appear, chemical control should be targeting the larvae stage of the pest. There are multiple products marketed to control lawn caterpillars. However, you may want to consider using B.t. (Bacillus thurengiensis), which is a bacterium that will only harm caterpillars and not bother beneficial insects that may be in your lawn. For more information you can contact your local extension office.

 

PG

Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Posted in Lawn Services Leave a comment

Weed Control

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

Weed Control

Methods

It is essential to properly maintain turf to minimize weed invasion. If weeds become established, several methods of control are available.

Mowing—Many annual weeds can be eliminated if proper mowing height and frequency are maintained. Mowing prior to weed seedhead formation also reduces weed seed reserves. Some weeds, however, readily establish below the desired mowing height. Management of these weeds requires additional control methods. As a rule of thumb, when mowing, remove only a third of the turf’s leaf blade at a time. This maintains a turf canopy that can grow vigorously while shading weeds and suppressing their growth.

Hand pulling or rogueing—If only a few weeds are present, it’s simpler and less time-consuming to physically remove the plant, but if weeds are a major problem, other alternatives should be considered. When hand-pulling weeds, it is critical to remove the roots and underground parts to ensure the weeds will not survive and produce new shoots. Weeds such as Florida pusley and Virginia buttonweed might require the use of a small shovel to properly dig out the roots.

Smothering—Smothering with nonliving material to exclude light is effective in certain areas, such as flower beds, foot paths, or nurseries, where turf is not grown. Materials used for this include mulch, leaves, rocks, and plastic film. To be effective, a minimum of 2 inches is required when using natural mulch materials. As an alternative, synthetic mats impregnated with herbicides can be used. These provide long-term weed control when properly used, but care must be taken to minimize the risk of desirable plant roots encountering these layers.

Herbicides—An herbicide is any chemical that injures or kills a plant. Herbicides are safe and effective if product label instructions are followed. Label instructions include proper application timing, rates, and application methods. Herbicide application timing during the plant’s growth cycle is important. For example, weeds not controlled prior to seedhead formation are harder to control and are able to deposit new seeds in future. Herbicides are classified based on how and when they control weeds.

Herbicide Types

Selective—A selective herbicide controls certain plant species (weeds) without seriously affecting the growth of other plant species (desired turfgrass). Most herbicides are selective herbicides. Herbicides are selected based on the turfgrass species (Table 1). This simplifies the application because the herbicide can be applied over the turf without injuring it.

Nonselective—Nonselective herbicides control green plants regardless of species. They are generally used to kill all plants, such as in the renovation or establishment of a new turf area, as a spot treatment, or to trim along sidewalks. Glyphosate (Roundup), glufosinate (Finale), and diquat (Reward) are examples of nonselective herbicides. These herbicides injure turf. Therefore, in an established turf, their use is usually limited to spot applications for weedy patches, which must be followed by reseeding or resodding the treated area.

Contact—Contact herbicides affect only the portion of green plant tissue contacted by the herbicide spray. These herbicides are not translocated or moved in plants’ vascular systems. Therefore, they do not kill underground plant parts, such as rhizomes or tubers. Repeat applications are often needed with contact herbicides to kill regrowth from these underground plant parts. Examples of contact herbicides include bentazon (Basagran), glufosinate (Finale), and diquat (Reward).

Systemic—Systemic herbicides are translocated in the plant’s vascular system. The vascular system transports the nutrients and water necessary for normal growth and development. Systemic herbicides generally are slower acting and kill plants over a period of days. Examples of systemic herbicides include glyphosate (Roundup), 2,4-D, dicamba (Banvel), imazaquin (Image), metsulfuron (Bonus S), and sethoxydim (Segment).

Application Timing

Two herbicide types, which differ based on application timing, are important in turfgrass weed management.

Preemergence—Preemergence herbicides form the basis for a chemical weed control program in turfgrasses and are used primarily to control annual grasses (e.g., crabgrass, goosegrass, and annual bluegrass) and certain annual broadleaf weeds (e.g., common chickweed, henbit, and lawn burweed). Preemergence herbicides are applied prior to weed seed germination. Knowledge of weed life cycles is important, especially when herbicide application is timed to attempt preemergence control. If the chemical is applied after weed emergence, preemergence herbicides have little or no effect. This narrow window of application timing is a potential disadvantage for many lawn care companies and homeowners, who often wait too late in the spring to apply the preemergence herbicide. A general rule of thumb for preemergence herbicide application is February 1 in South Florida, February 15 in Central Florida, and March 1 in North Florida, or before if day temperatures reach 65ºF–70ºF for 4 or 5 consecutive days. These application timings generally coincide with blooming of landscape plants, such as azalea and dogwood. If goosegrass is the primary weed species expected, wait 3–4 weeks later than these suggested application dates, since goosegrass germinates later than most summer annual grasses.

For preemergence control of winter annual weeds such as annual bluegrass (Poa annua), apply an herbicide when nighttime temperatures drop to 55ºF–60ºF for several consecutive days (early October for North Florida; late October to early November for Central and South Florida).

Irrigation before and after application is necessary to activate most preemergence herbicides. Preemergence herbicides are generally effective in controlling weeds from 6–12 weeks following application. Most herbicides begin to degrade soon after application when exposed to the environment. Therefore, to obtain season-long control, an additional application should follow 6–9 weeks after the initial one.

Note: On those areas where turf is to be established (including sod and winter overseeded areas), most preemergence herbicides should not be used 2–4 months before planting. Otherwise, root damage and germination reduction of the turf seed may result.

Postemergence—Postemergence herbicides are active on emerged weeds. Weed size is very important for proper herbicide action. Generally, the younger the weed seedling, the easier it is to control. If the herbicides are sprayed when the weeds are mature, high rates are required for achieving control, which increases the risk of turf injury. Postemergence herbicide effectiveness is reduced when the weed is under drought stress, cold stress, has begun to produce seeds, or is mowed before the chemical has time to work (several days after application). Avoid application when these detrimental growing conditions exist.

Fertilizer/Herbicide Mixtures

Many herbicides are formulated with a fertilizer as the carrier. Fertilizer/herbicide mixtures allow a “weed-n-feed” treatment in the same application to the turfgrass. These materials should only be used when a lawn has a uniform weed population. If weeds exist only on a portion of the lawn, it may not be necessary to apply a “weed-n-feed” product to the entire lawn. If the situation warrants the use of a “weed-n-feed” product, it is important to determine if the manufacturer’s recommended application rate supplies the amount of fertilizer needed by the turfgrass and the amount of herbicide required for weed control. Supplemental applications of fertilizer or herbicide may be required if the fertilizer/herbicide product does not supply enough fertilizer or herbicide to meet the fertility needs of the turfgrass or the amount of herbicide needed for weed control. Turfgrass fertilizer/herbicide products should be used with caution near ornamentals. Products containing dicamba, metsulfuron, or atrazine can be absorbed by the roots of ornamentals and cause severe injury. Do not apply products that contain these chemicals over the root zone of ornamental trees and shrubs.

Posted in Lawn Services Leave a comment

Fertilization

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

As the temperatures are getting warmer you may have noticed your grass getting greener. Grass is beginning to come out of dormancy and this is the perfect time to fertilize your lawn. While the soil helps supply some of the nutrients your grass needs, adding a fertilize helps your lawn to become greener and develop a better root system to help withstand weather conditions, foot traffic, and insect damage. It also aids in smothering out the weeds from the turf. Please call our office at 785-8844 to schedule a free inspection or come see us at 3600 E 15th Street and find out which fertilize is best for you!

Posted in Pest Control Leave a comment

Preparing for Pests in the Fall

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

As we enter the fall months we need to be prepared for the pests that will be trying to enter our homes. With the cooler temperatures insects and rodents will be looking for a warmer place to take refuge.

There are things that you, as a homeowner, can do to help prevent these invaders from coming into your home.

  • Cut trees and bushes back so they are not touching or hanging over your house.
  • Seal all cracks and crevices around the outside of the home.
  • Repair any damaged window screens and attic vents.
  • Keep leaves raked up from all around the house.
  • Make sure to store your firewood away from the home.

When it comes to preventing insects from entering your home pest control may be needed. Our technicians at Gulf Coast Pest Control will come out analyze the best solution for your home

and spray and bait entry points including doors, windows, cracks, crevices, eaves, and perform an extended perimeter treatment so bugs and rodents such as mice and rats do not enter the home.

If you are more of a do it yourselfer we also offer a full line of professional do it yourself products along with advice from our knowledgeable staff on how and where to apply.

Posted in Pest Control Leave a comment

When To Feed Your Lawn

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

The most important thing you can do for your lawn is to feed it. A well-fed lawn is healthier, which means it has a better root system to combat insects, heat, cold, drought, mowing, foot traffic and other stresses. While feeding your lawn once a year will improve its condition, feeding it four times a year will make it even healthier. If you put your lawn on the regular feeding schedule it will look lush and green, and your neighbors will turn green with envy.

Posted in Lawn Services Leave a comment

Fleas, Fleas, and more Fleas

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

Here in Panama City, fleas are an ongoing problem throughout the year. However, there are certain months when they seem to be worse than others. We, at Gulf Coast Pest Control, have noticed an increasingly amount of fleas this month due to the warmer weather. Fleas often breed in large numbers so it is imperative to treat as soon as possible as they multiply rapidly. When treating, it is best to treat your animal, your home, and your lawn all within the same time frame to prevent reoccuring problems. Most likely you will need a couple of treatments to completely eliminate your flea problem. Contact Gulf Coast Pest Control for your free quote or for information about Do-It-Yourself products!

Posted in Pest Control Leave a comment

Switch to our mobile site