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Use these tips to rid your yard of spurs, mosquitoes
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

We are now a few weeks into what has become the new normal during this COVID epidemic. At this point many of you are likely finding new things to do you didn’t even imagine just a few months ago.

Hopefully this has brought you outside to nature and these (mostly) beautiful days we have had for weather. However, there are a few things outside that might have hampered some fun with the family. One thing that come to mind is the prevalence of lawn burweed (sand spurs) this spring. I don’t know if it’s just yards I’ve seen, but boy it seems like it’s everywhere this season. Here are a few problems that you may run into and some insight from UGA Extension to help solve these dilemmas: So how do you kill those pesky sand spurs?

First, be certain of what you have. Sand spurs are grassy weeds that form clusters of spiny seeds at the end of a long stem.

They are a problem in the summer and early fall.

Another prickly weed is lawn burweed. It forms low growing mats with hard to see burs along the branch. Lawn burweed is a problem in the spring. It is a winter weed that can germinate in the winter and become a real problem as the spiny seeds mature in the spring.

Sand spurs are difficult to control once they begin to grow. Prevent them by spraying your lawn around mid-February and again 45 days later (around April 1). Use Surflan (oryzalin) or Prowl or Pre-M (pendamethalin).

You must spray these herbicides early. Once the weeds emerge, these chemicals will not stop the sand spurs.

After sand spurs begin to grow, you can kill them in centipede lawns with Vantage or Poast (sethoxydim). Do not use sethoxydim on other turf grasses.

In Bermuda or zoysia lawns, kill sand spurs with multiple applications of MSMA. Read and follow all label directions. Temperature will affect how the MSMA works. MSMA can brown turf sometime. For the lawn burweeds, wait until next fall and prevent them with two applications of atrazine.

Use atrazine around mid-October and again 45 days later.

Sound familiar? The reason we use preventive herbicides twice is that they are effective for about 45 days. The second application prevents the later emerging weeds.

You can spray lawn burweed with atrazine or Weed Be Gon (or equivalent herbicides) now, but the burs are already formed. Spraying now will do little to control the weed in the future.

Spraying atrazine or Weed Be Gon several times from December through February may help to reduce this weed next year.

What can I do about all these mosquitoes?

Sprays and fogs may be helpful just before outside activities for a short relief from our winged enemies. Just expect mosquitoes to return eventually. The most important factor is removing or treating all water that they can use to breed in.

Cleaning out mosquito breeding sites should be done on a community- wide basis since mosquitoes can fly a mile or more. It only takes 4 ounces of water to breed mosquitoes. Check or empty stagnant water every four to seven days. Look for breeding sites in abandoned pools, low wet areas, ditches, ponds, ornamental pools, pet dishes, unused commodes, bird baths, old tires, clogged gutters and ditches, holes in trees, boats, wheel barrows, toys, discarded drink cans, plastic and other containers and pans under potted plants.

Open ponds with fish should produce few mosquitoes. Stagnant weedy water that fish cannot reach will harbor mosquitoes. Clean out or drain these areas.

Stock ponds with Gambusia (mosquito fish) to reduce mosquito breeding. Gambusia are a small guppy-like, pot-bellied minnow found in some ponds already. Call the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (912-264-7218) for sources.

Treat water that cannot be drained with Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis (Bti). This chemical is formulated into granules or donuts found under names like Mosquito Bits or Mosquito Dunks. Retreat every 30 days.

Limit outside activities when mosquitoes are bad – usually around night fall. Use a mosquito repellant containing 10 to 35 percent DEET. Do not exceed 10 percent DEET when applying it to children.

Rub the repellant on your hands first and then put it on the child.

Reserve the higher concentrations of DEET for adults living in major mosquito fly zones.

Always read and follow label directions.

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