Summer Tips

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The most common error committed by people is light irrigation.

Too little water too often encourages a multitude of problems such as shallow root system. The need for watering depends mainly on your soil and, of course, the weather.

Rainfall is no guarantee.

Light showers merely wet the surface. Short down pours do the same. Most of the water is lost in runoff before it can soak in.

How much water is needed?

A lawn will use as much as two inches per week in hot, dry weather - a fraction of that when it is cooler. If you decide your lawn needs water, you should put on enough to wet the entire root zone. The type of soil you have will determine how much water you should put on at one time. Heavy clay soils are harder to penetrate. You should water almost to the point of runoff. Wait until that water has soaked in and then water again. Repeat this until you have applied the desired amount. In sandy soils, you will need to apply water more frequently, due to the inability of the soil to retain moisture.

When is the best time?

If you can, avoid late afternoon or evening irrigation. Grass that stays wet for a long time favors the development of diseases. However, do not avoid watering at these times if this is the only time you can water. The important thing is water. Avoiding late afternoons is secondary to providing the needed water.

These insects are nature's pest control!

Ladybird Beetle (Ladybugs)

These are small, oval, convex, and often brightly colored insects. Most of this family are predaceous, both as larvae and adults, and feed chiefly on aphids. They are found frequently on plants where aphids are numerous. They hibernate as adults, commonly under debris in large colonies.

Lacewings

They have gauzy green (sometimes brown) lacewings and jewel-like gold eyes. Lacewings produce aphid devouring larvae. The larvae is grayish brown in color with sharp curved jaws that extend beyond its head. It crawls along the leaf surface in search of aphids, scales, mealybugs, thrips mites, and insect eggs. They can consume 100 or more insects each day.

Praying Mantis

These are highly predaceous insects that feed on a variety of other insects. They wait to ambush their prey with the front legs in an upraised position that gives them their name. The egg cases may be found on tree twigs and in fields. Egg cases may be gathered by cutting the twig you find them on and then tying the case to a branch in the landscape. They are cannibalistic and will feed upon each other.

Dragonflies

They catch and eat their insect prey while flying. Mosquitoes and other flies make up their diet.

Syrphid Flies

These may be brightly colored and resemble wasps and bees hovering over flowers. They do not sting. The larvae of most species are predaceous feeding on aphids or the young of termites, ants or bees.

Lightning Bugs

The adult insects fly about in the evenings and are conspicuous by their blinking yellow light. Most of the larvae are luminescent and are given the name "glowworms". The larvae feed on various smaller insects and on snails.

Some predatory insects such as ladybird beetles and praying mantids are available for sale.

Information gathered from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Monroe County. RN 02/02

The adult Japanese Beetle is approximately 3/8-1/2" in length. The body is bright metallic green with the shell mostly brownish or reddish orange.

These beetles become a very visible problem in the landscapes, usually beginning in June, and lasting several weeks. They feed on a wide variety of plants- rose, linden, grape, plum and many others. They feed on the leaves, flowers and fruits of plants. They do not eat the veins of the leaves, so the foliage shows a skeletonized effect.

The adult beetles lay eggs in July or August. The eggs hatch into gray-white grubs which begin feeding immediately on the fibrous roots of the turfgrasses. They feed for several weeks and over winter in the soil below the frost line. They begin to eat grass roots again in April or shortly after the soil thaws. They stop feeding around mid-May to pupate. The adult Japanese Beetles emerge in late June (usually 1000 growing degree days) and feed on foliage for five to seven weeks before mating.

On garden plants and small shrubs, the adults can be periodically hand picked and destroyed. An easy method is to shake the beetles from the plants early in the morning. Spread a drop cloth under the plant and shake. The beetles will fall on the drop cloth where they can be collected and destroyed. For large plantings, several insect controls can be used. Follow label directions as to when to apply the control. Additional applications may be needed to control this persistent insect. Japanese beetle traps are discouraged as they act as an attractant to your plant material and can lead to increased damage.

Information gathered from Cornell Cooperative Extension, Monroe County. RN 02/02

The weeds that appear in hot weather are some of the toughest to control. They show up when the lawn is under stress from heat and dryness. These summer weeds have some very good defenses that are hard to crack.

Tiny leaves with very thick skins

Summer weeds usually have very small leaves with a thick, waxy coating. These features help the weeds survive during hot, dry weather by conserving water in the plant. But the same things that help the weeds thrive while your lawn is wilting, make them a harder target to hit with weed control materials. When the weather gets very hot, these weeds dose the "pores" on their leaves almost completely making good weed control difficult, if not impossible.

Timing is the key

To get control of difficult summer weeds, it's important that the weeds are actively growing so they can absorb the weed control application. A treatment in late spring or early summer may eliminate many weeds before they become a nuisance. Waiting until the weather cools in the fall is also a good alternative.

If weed control must be applied during the heat of summer, make sure the lawn has been heavily watered for several days before the treatment to "wake up" the weeds and get them actively growing.

© 1991 Focal Point Communications

Most people do not recognize scale as actual insects since they show little resemblance to the typical insect. They are well protected because they live under a waxy, almost impermeable shell. The female lays her eggs under this shell which offers them protection. When the eggs hatch, the "crawler" stage emerges. It is mobile and will crawl about on the host plant to select a feeding site. It is during the crawler stage that they are most easily controlled with insect controls. Except for the males of some species, adult scales will permanently attach themselves to a position selected during the crawler stage. Scale infestations frequently go undetected until the plant is completely covered. A needle like mouth part is inserted into the plant and sap is sucked out. Scale insects will also secrete a sticky substance called "honeydew" which can coat surfaces below the plant. A fungus called sooty mold can then survive on the honeydew.

Scale insects can be categorized as either armored or soft shelled. Armored shelled scales are small(1-2mm), permanently attached, hard flat, circular to elongated and crusty whereas soft shelled scales are frequently larger (up to 6mm), soft bodied, sometimes mobile, hemispherical and dark.

Proper plant care including pruning of heavily scale infested branches is a primary management strategy. Insect controls are often needed. Horticultural oils applied in the spring will help to suffocate overwintering eggs. Properly timed applications of insect controls will also be beneficial in controlling the crawler stage. This is when the insect is in the crawler stage and has yet to develop it shell. Adult scale insects are difficult to control. At this time systemic insect controls can be applied.

Information gathered from the Green Tips, Michigan State University and the University of New Hampshire. Feb 02 RN

There are a number of wood boring insects that attack a wide diversity of plants growing in our landscapes. They can be categorized as either beetles (i.e., the bronze birch borer) or clearwing moths (i.e., peach tree borer). Both have larvae that tunnel and feed within the plant tissue. Wood boring insects can kill plants directly due to feeding within the phloem tissue, which reduces the plants ability to obtain nutrients. Wood boring beetles can kill plants indirectly by serving as the carrier of certain plant diseases.

Most of the boring insects are generally a problem when plants are stressed. When plants are predisposed to stress, which can occur due to drought or mechanical damage (mowers), it increases their susceptibility to borers. Poor cultural practices such as watering, fertilization, mulching and pruning are also major causes of stress. Stress may cause plants to redistribute more of its resources towards growth, leaving fewer resources for defense. Borers will take advantage of this imbalance and find it easier to locate and attack stressed plants. In some cases borers can emit chemicals that attract additional borers. They then overwhelm the tree's defenses and hasten the plants decline.

To enhance overall plant health, make sure trees are properly watered. Drought stressed plants are unable to take up enough water to maintain normal functions. This weakens a plants defense system. Improper mulching can also weaken a tree. Too much mulch or mulch that covers the trunk flare can suffocate a plant. This will enhance borer activity. Mulch should be 2-4" deep and never piled up against a trunk. Topping of trees or poorly placed pruning cuts can often make it difficult for plants to properly heal themselves. These types of wounds are attractive to borers for insect laying since they are easy entry sites for the larvae. The timing of the pruning should also be considered so as to not enhance or attract additional borer activity. Proper site selection will also help to minimize problems with borers. Improper plant placement will weaken a plants defenses and make it more susceptible to a borer attack. This is quite often the case with Birch and Dogwood trees.

Information gathered from the University of Illinois Extension Newsletter. Feb 02 RN

Damp weather and high humidity are ideal conditions for mushrooms. The fungus "pops" up from dead organic matter in the soil. Decaying of buried wood, an old tree stump, or roots of a tree that has been removed, will also contribute to mushrooms showing up in a lawn. Also, something as simple as grass clippings decaying on the soil surface can bring about mushrooms.

Chemical treatment for mushrooms is generally not very effective. Simply mowing over the mushrooms will break them up and contribute in ridding the fungus. However, less rain and lower humidity will have the biggest effect on making the fungus disappear.