By Richard Keith Evans, Bryan County Extension Agent.
We’ve entered that time of year where we are beginning to long for the cool relief of autumn, or at least I am anyway.
While out working in my yard I noticed quite a few pests. This time of the year is also a good time to spot and identify some of the pests you might find in your own trees or yard. As is the case with any pest, the sooner its discovered and identified, the sooner control measures can be put into place. I’ll discuss a few below. I’m noticing webs in my trees, what are they? Well, there are two different caterpillars which make webs in trees. Eastern tent caterpillars make webs early in the year where the branches come together. Fall web worms make webs later in the year at the ends of the branches. In most cases, like in many pecan trees right now, the culprit is likely the fall webworm.
Neither one of these are serious pests of trees.
If you want to destroy the webs, get a long pole with a hook on the end and pull the webs down.
Spraying the individual webs will help somewhat but you have to use enough water to penetrate the webs. This is very difficult because the webs are somewhat waterproof. You can also cut the webs off of the ends of the branches and burn them. However, when discussing pest control there are always pests that can be left alone. I suggest ignoring these pests, especially if they are hard to reach. They are hard to control and a healthy tree can survive their attack.
If you try to control the caterpillars, you may do more damage to the tree than the worms would.
What about the webs I see in my grass? What you are seeing is likely sod webworm. The sod webworm, especially tropical sod webworm, occurs in Georgia with peak activity in the fall, September through November.
The population starts to decline with the onset of colder temperatures. Larvae overwinter in thatch, then start feeding again when the weather warms in the spring. Tropical sod webworm infests all warm-season turfgrasses including bermudagrass; St. Augustinegrass; centipedegrass; and zoysiagrass with a particular preference for bermudagrass and St. Augustinegrass, the most common turfgrass in Georgia.
The university of Georgia has this to say about the pest: “If initial symptoms are already present in the turf, soil drenching can be done with a soap solution for monitoring and spot treatment of the pest. For this, add 1 ounce of dish detergent in 1 gallon of water and pour the solution over a 1-square-yard area where the infestation is suspected. This is called the “soap flush technique.” This soap solution should kill the caterpillars. Pay attention to the zigzag flight of moths over the lawn during evening hours.
Within a few days, these moths will lay eggs and eggs will hatch. This can happen within 7-14 days after the adult flight activity. Young sod webworm caterpillars are small and can be challenging to find on turfgrass. Sample the turfgrass for early stages of sod webworm larvae or use the soap flush technique, counting the larvae to determine their density. Also, look for signs of early feeding activity on the grass, which appear as small, yellow spot or patch similar to yellowing spots observed when dogs urinate on turfgrass. The appearance of feeding damage can be used as a threshold for insecticide use to stop further damage. The soap flush technique can be used for larval control if the infestation is mild.
What are the huge mosquitoes that have been attacking me these past couple months? Are they dangerous?
With all the rain we’ve accumulated this summer we have seen a large number of mosquitoes in general. While most mosquitoes are annoying already, there is a particular species that only comes out after large rain events. It is called the Gulf Coast Gallinipper or called by some the Muck Mosquito. Its nearly almost impossible to get this monster mosquito confused with its smaller cousins in the genus Culex, Aedes, or Anopheles due to its large size (roughly 20 times the size of a typical mosquito). There is both good and bad news involving this pest. The bad news is that these jumbo mosquitoes do feed on humans and animals and are quite aggressive in their pursuit of a blood meal. On top of their aggressive behavior, their bite can penetrate clothes fairly easily. However, the good news is that they aren’t known to be carriers of pathogens or viruses that can make us sick.
Control mosquitoes by reducing mosquito breeding sites (standing water).
To keep mosquitoes away, Dr. Nancy Hinkle, UGA Entomologist makes these suggestions. Wear light colored clothing. Dark colors attract mosquitoes.
Stay inside at dusk and dawn. Use a repellant containing DEET. In areas with lots of mosquitoes, you can spray the insecticide Permanone on your clothes (but not on your skin!). Read and follow all label directions.
When using citronella candles, stand in the smoke. This is what repels mosquitoes. Mosquito plants, electronic devices, garlic and herbal bracelets do not repel mosquitoes.
Herbal remedies applied to the skin work for less than an hour.
Expect to see some of these pests in your yard this time of the year.
Contact our office for more information on controlling these pests.