No gardener wants to deal with invasive pests that may inhabit their yard. This is especially true with garden pests in Central Florida, as we certainly have our fair share. No matter how big or how small, pests can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy lawn and/or garden. In an effort to help you keep your garden free of any unwanted critters, today we take a look at the best way to get rid of some of the most common pests.
Just look at this little guy...how cute is he? Well, cuteness factor aside, he can do some major damage to your lawn. If you notice small mounds of soil dotting your yard, chances are you have a mole. The mounds are created when moles dig up dirt in search of grubs and insects. Most moles can be driven away by saturating the holes they make with a castor oil mixture. Simply mix four tablespoons of a vegetable-based detergent with twelve ounces of castor oil, put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spray liberally where the creatures are digging. This method won't do any permanent damage to your furry friends, only cause them to get an upset tummy and seek a more desirable location.
The Chinch Bug
Now on to the not so cute critters. Did you know that the various Augustine grasses are the most popular in Florida? As it turns out, in addition to being popular with Floridians, they are also popular with chinch bugs. If you've got Augustine grass in your yard, you need to be on the lookout for chinch bugs. These pests can leave ugly, dry, brown spots on your otherwise beautiful lawn. Chinch bugs can be kept at bay by properly aerating your lawn. If it's too late for preventative maintenance and you notice an infestation however, you will need a lawn care professional to get rid of them for good.
The Japanese Beetle
The Japanese Beetle, aka Popillia japonica is about as attractive as a bug can get. With a combo green/gold shell, they are easy to spot after they have infested your garden. Adult Japanese Beetles feast on both the fruit and the leaves of various plants. They do so in swarms which means that damage to your garden can happen very quickly and be very severe. Japanese Beetle grubs can eat the roots of your grass and cause brown spots to appear.
The easiest way to get rid of adult Japanese Beetles is simply to pick them off of your plants by hand and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. I highly recommend using a pair of thick gardening gloves when doing so if you're at all skittish about touching them. For grubs, the solution is a bit trickier. A useful product for getting rid of grubs is milky spore. This is a natural bacteria that kills grubs and causes them to decompose. After decomposition, the leftover material creates new spores in the ground which in turn kill additional grubs. That's what I call a win-win!
If you need help getting rid of any of the pests mentioned above, give Aventura Nursery & Landscaping a call today at (352) 799-3200. We are ready and waiting to help you keep your lawn and/or garden pest free!
Being in the nursery and landscaping business in Spring Hill, Florida is wonderful. Living in Florida is wonderful. The year-round sunshine, the beaches, and best of all: no snow! Unfortunately for us Floridians, there are certain pests that enjoy the Sunshine State as much as we do. One such pest is the dreaded Pickleworm.
The name sounds innocent enough. Perhaps it reminds you of a whimsical character in a children's book. Unfortunately, Diaphania nitidalis (better known as the pickleworm), is a very serious agricultural pest.
Year round pests in Florida
Much like those of us who live in Florida, pickleworms don't like cold weather. These pests are mostly found in southeastern states, but have been spotted as far as Illinois, Iowa, and even parts of New York. The life-cycle of a pickleworm is remarkably short. Most of these insects only live for around 30 days. Depending on location, there can be up to four generations of pickleworms per year. There are only two locations where pickleworms are found all year round: Texas and Florida. Lucky us!
Pickleworms feast on both wild and cultivated cucurbit species; pumpkins, cucumbers, cantaloupe and squash are all preferred by the pest. The pickleworm's absolute favorite food, however, is the summer squash. Every year, large amounts of damage to summer squash crops can be attributed to the pickleworm.
Damage to crops caused by the pickleworm can be observed by the lack of flowers and new leaves on the plant. These are the first parts of the plant to be eaten. Damaged vines and leaves can become riddled with holes and cease to continue growing. Pickleworm larvae also eat the fruit, and have been known to burrow deep into the flesh leaving a trail of white frass in their wake. Yuck! Once these pests are able to burrow into the fruit, the damage done usually results in rotting.
So What Can We Do?!
Fear not my fellow feisty Floridians! We can defeat the pickleworm and his dastardly plan for world domination. First and foremost, we can opt for certain varieties of plants that have proven to be resistant to these pests. Inquiring minds have discovered that the butternut and Golden Hubbard varieties of squash tend to be much less susceptible to pickleworm infestation. If given the opportunity, it may be in your best interest to choose one of these instead of the summer variety.
If prevention has failed and you find yourself face to face with a pickleworm, you may want to consider "Bt pest control." Spraying your crops with Bacillus Turingienis (Bt for short) can be a great strategy. The active ingredient in Bt is a crystal protein which serves to paralyze the insect's digestive tract. The pickleworm will subsequently stop eating and starve to death. Bacillus Turingienis has also been essential in the fight against the West Nile Virus and the pesky mosquitoes that spread it.
You might also consider adding floating row covers to your crops at night. Pickleworms are most active after dark, so this strategy will substantially decrease the likelihood of infestation. Please remember to remove the covers during the day so that the bees can get to your crops.
Drop By and Say Hello
If you're in the Spring Hill, FL area and have questions about the pickleworm or any other subject pertaining to your Florida garden, please drop by and say hello. We also specialize in landscape design and sod installation. You can also give us a call at 352-799-3200. We would love to hear from you today!