Gulf Coast Pest Control

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Pest Control

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

Gulf Coast Pest Control specializes in the control of general household pests. These pests include roaches, ants, spiders, scorpions, silverfish, fleas, rodents, etc. We offer monthly and quarterly services as well as one time services. We also have a large Do It Yourself selection along with some great advice on how to tackle these insects if you are more of a do it yourselfer. Call us today for a free estimate! 850-215-BUGS

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How to help your Florida Lawn in Winter

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How to Help Your Lawn Survive the Chill

Written by Dr. Laurie Trenholm

Certainly when we think of living in Florida, we do not generally think about losing our lawns to freezing temperatures. However, some homeowners in Florida may find themselves needing to replace portions of their lawn in the spring due to the cold weather. Here are some tips about how to prevent or reduce winterkill by preparing your lawn for the winter months and how to let your lawn recover from the big chill with minimal damage.

Preparing Your Lawn for Winter

All of our warm season turfgrass species go into some degree of dormancy during the winter months, slowing their growth down and they may or may not stay green. This is a natural cycle, regardless of where you live in the state. In North and even Central Florida, lawns may stay green or may turn brown, either of which can be normal. Even in South Florida, lawns do not grow as quickly in the winter, even though they may remain green (less mowing required!). Regardless of where you are in the state, you should work to keep your lawn as healthy as possible through mowing, irrigating, and fertilizing practices. For more information on how to properly manage your lawn, please refer to Best Management Practices for Your Lawn.

Lawns in South Florida are typically fertilized year-round with no problems. However, Central and North Florida lawns should not be fertilized after mid-September or late September. The last fertilization should be done with a fertilizer containing higher or equal amounts of potassium (the third number on the bag) relative to nitrogen (the first number on the bag), such as 15-0-15. This helps to impart some stress tolerance to cold or freezing temperatures and may enhance spring greenup. In Central Florida, do not fertilize lawns between October and the end of March. In North Florida, avoid fertilizing from mid-September through mid-April. Keep mowing height high year-round for additional enhanced stress tolerance (3.5″ to 4″ for most St. Augustinegrass cultivars and bahiagrass and 2″ to 2.5″ for centipedegrass and coarse-textured zoysiagrass lawns).

Coming Out of the Freeze

Freezing temperatures will turn lawns brown. Do not panic, this is a normal part of winter dormancy. When the days become longer and temperatures start to warm up in the spring, the growing points will become active, bringing green growth to the lawn again. Do not fertilize your lawn in the winter to try to green it up after a freeze—wait for the natural cycle of events to occur in the springtime. Fertilizing after a freeze will do more harm to your lawn than waiting for spring green-up. Do not apply a weed and feed product for preemergence weed control during the winter in Central and North Florida. Lawns generally do not require as much irrigation during winter months, so scale back your irrigation systems. In Central Florida, you may need to irrigate weekly or every other week, while in North Florida, it may be every three to four weeks. You will not need to mow for some time; when you do need to mow again, be sure to cut at the highest recommended height for your grass type. Do not “scalp” the lawn, as this makes it less able to recover from freeze damage.

How can you tell if your grass has truly succumbed to a winter freeze or if it is only dormant? One way is to cut small plugs of the grass (with roots and shoots attached) and plant them in a pot, put it in a warm spot with natural sunlight and see if the grass begins to grow.

If your lawn does not recover come springtime, remove the decayed vegetation from the affected areas and replace with either sod pieces or plugs. Do this before weeds have a chance to germinate and take hold of the ground. It is possible that not all of your lawn will be affected, perhaps just those areas that are most exposed to the cold temperatures.

Following these tips will help your lawn survive freezing temperatures.

Dr. Laurie Trenholm
Associate Professor
Urban Turfgrass Specialist
UF Environmental Horticulture
Dr. Bryan Unruh
Associate Professor
Extension Turfgrass Specialist
UF Environmental Horticulture

Also on Gardening Solutions
Cold Damage to Turf
Your Florida Lawn in Winter
Treating Cold-damaged Plants

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Are you seeing subterranean termites or drywood termites?

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Comparison of Subterranean and Drywood Termites

Written by Vivienne E. Harris, Ph.D., (dec.)
Reviewed and edited by Faith Oi, Ph.D., University of Florida
Updated by BJ Jarvis, Pasco Cooperative Horticulture Extension Agent

 NOTE:  The bottom line with termites is that most of us have a hard time differentiating between the types of termites, and it is important to know these differences as each type is treated differently.


Eastern and Formosan Subterranean Termites

Drywood and
Some Dampwood Termites


  • In ground (20% aerial; no ground connection)
  • Travel to structures through ground
  • Make mud tubes (a covered highway) – protection from dehydration and predators when leaving ground.

  • Inside the wood they infest (structural wood; furniture); don’t require soil contact
  • No mud tubes
  • Can arrive and infest from air
  • Require much less moisture than subterraneans

  • Two dark thick veins
  • After indoor flights, dead alaates found often with wings still attached
  • Daylight swarming (native eastern subterranean termites)
  • January to May (smaller swarm in the fall)

  • Three or four dark thick veins
  • Shed wings within minutes of landing; so usually find wings and bodies separate
  • Night swarming (most species)
  • Varies with species
Alate (reproductive)
of the West Indian drywood termite


Drywood Termite WingDrywood termite wing (note dark thick veins)


Native eastern subterranean termite



  • Rectangular head (*but see below)
  • Pronotum (hard plate on back of the exoskeleton) narrower than head
  • Mandibles don’t have “teeth”

  • Head round in some species but variable
  • Pronotum (hard plate on back of the exoskeleton) wider than head
  • “Teeth” on mandibles of some species

  • Eat along grain of wood
  • Eat spring wood only (softer)

  • Eat across and along grain of wood
  • Eat spring wood and hard summer wood

  • Usually moist; no ridges; used to line galleries and tunnel
  • Contain lignin (undigested wood)
  • Incorporate feces into mud tubes (carton = chewed wood, feces and soil)

  • Dry and hard, six-sided (color varies; color not associated with type of wood eaten)
  • Rectal pads can reabsorb H2O from feces before expulsion.
  • Kick holes – where fecal pellets are pushed out from wood – see small piles on floor
Formosan Subterranean Termites

  • Large colonies (to 10 million versus a few thousand to 5 million for eastern subterranean termites)
  • Build nests made of carton (native subterranean termites don’t build as much carton)
  • Nests are large rock-like masses, usually below ground, but if plenty of moisture and no extreme temperatures, can be in structures – common in chimneys and wall voids (nest fills void)
  • Swarm in evening (dusk), April-June, (smaller swarm in Fall)
  • ALATES have hairy wings
  • SOLDIERS have oval* heads with fontanelle (soft spot) on front top end (small pore)

Formosan subterranean termite
(Note the small hairs on wings of swarmers)


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Florida Lawns in the Winter

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

Your Florida Lawn in Winter

A Florida-Friendly lawn in winterEven though a Florida fall isn’t very cold, it’s still a good time to start preparing your lawn for cold weather. Shorter days, lower light intensity, and cooler temperatures result in slower-growing lawns.

You might be tempted to apply one last round of fertilizer to your lawn. But timing is important. The last recommended time to fertilize your lawn in North Florida is in September. In Central Florida, October’s the latest. A high-potassium fertilizer would be best for this time of year. Fertilizing too late could cause the grass to be growing when cold weather comes, making it more cold-sensitive.

If you missed your fall application, there’s no need to worry. As growth begins in the spring, just apply an appropriate fertilizer for your lawn type, and your turf will respond with fresh growth and vigor. In some parts of South Florida, it’s warm enough that your grass may grow—and need fertilizer—year-round.

Centipede and St. Augustine lawns are very susceptible to large patch fungus disease in the fall. Avoid excess nitrogen fertilizer and water early in the day to avoid long periods of leaf wetness. Apply fungicides if you’ve had repeated problems with this disease. Scout for sod webworms, as this is the time of year that they can become very destructive, with little time for turf recovery before winter dormancy.

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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.



Author: Taylor Vandiver – [email protected]

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Weed Control

Posted on by Gulf Coast Pest Control

Weed Control


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.

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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!

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Preparing for Pests in the Fall

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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.

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When To Feed Your Lawn

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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.

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