Spring is beginning to enter the fray and with it a bunch of weeds and insects. I want to talk about a few of the most common things you might find outside right now and some ways to handle them. As we’ve all heard it said before, there is no time like the present to learn something new!
You might be wondering what those wiry weeds are with the purple flowers, you’ve seen them every year but never took the time to figure out what they are called. Well, there are many annual weeds growing now but the most likely culprits are henbit or vetch. They look bad now, but hot weather should kill most of them. Unfortunately, pre-emergent herbicides in during winter were the defense against these weedy flowers, so if you have them now best to mow them and let mother nature take her course.
Henbit is the most common weed we see now.
Henbit has green or purple stems that sprawl along the ground. The stem is square which is a unique feature. The flowers are purple with some darker coloration on them. Garden vetch is a thin vine like weed that also has purple flowers and can cover large areas of yard or garden if lefts alone. These are very easily removed by hand pulling and will also be killed off by the summer heat.
Annual bluegrass is also very common. This low-growing yellow-green grass grows in clumps. It has light green to white flower spikes that can sometimes look silvery.
A few other lawn invaders are perennial weeds that should be dealt with now. Perennial weeds grow again each year from underground roots. They are generally harder to control than annual weeds. Dandelions are a common perennial weed showing up now. They have leaves that lie almost flat on the ground. The yellow flowers turn into feathery globes of seeds.
Dandelions are not controlled by preventive herbicides. Spray them as needed with Weed Be Gon or a similar herbicide.
Wild onion and wild garlic are common in lawns now. Spray them twice about four weeks apart with Image to control them.
Florida betony, which I’ve covered here before, has leaves opposite each other on the stem. Leaves are about one inch long with little teeth on them.
The stem is square and flowers are white or pink with purple spots. It has a white underground tuber that looks like a rattle snake rattle. Some gardeners call it rattle snake weed. The plant smells when crushed.
You must spray Florida betony repeatedly every three to four weeks to prevent its spread. Use Weed Be Gon or the equivalent in lawns. In beds, use Round Up. You must spray all of it repeatedly to reduce the levels of it in the landscape. You may never kill it all, it a very persistent weed and a real nuisance.
What are these strange bees flying over my lawn?
Look closer. Do you see many any hair on the abdomen? If so, then these are bumblebees and they do not hurt anything.
However, if the abdomen is shiny or you can see a yellow square on the face (indicates a male) then they are pesky carpenter bees. They are generally harmless to everything expect wooden patios and decks. They should not sting unless they are disturbed. When I was young my grandparent handed me a glass of lemonade and a tennis racket, my brother and I figured out the rest.
Why do I have so many small piles of dirt in my lawn? Earthworms make small piles of dirt that look like ant hills without an entrance. The soil will look like it is granulated.
Earthworms pass the soil through their bodies and pile it on the surface.
Earthworms improve the soil. Their droppings act as fertilizer and their digging tills the dirt. Some people believe that in a few rare instances, there may be too many earthworms in an area like a lawn.
There are no insecticides labeled to control them.
If you want to see the worms, mix one ounce of lemon dish washing detergent into a gallon of water. Drench a moist area with lots of mounds with the solution. The worms should come to the surface within a few minutes, if temperatures are warm enough. Unfortunately, the soap kills the worms and they cannot be returned to the soil. Generally speaking, there is nothing harmful about earthworms but large amounts of them can attract moles.
If you are seeing anything interesting in your yard that you want more information about contact me at the Bryan or Liberty County Extension office!