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Entries in aphid (2)

Wednesday
Jul232014

Bugs You WANT In Your Garden

A praying mantis chills out on an evergreen branch to wait for a meal. Picture by Nick OnestoI love bugs. Good bugs that is. Beneficial insects. Bugs that eat other bugs.

You may have heard of the potato famine back in the 1800's? You can thank the aphids for helping to spread that all over Ireland's potatoes. Ladybugs are an attractive and helpful addition to your garden because they help control aphid populations. A praying mantis will eat any bug it can catch. These insects are graceful looking and useful in the garden. Live ladybugs and praying mantis egg sacks are commonly sold in garden centers, online and through the internet. Ladybugs and Lady Beetles devour aphids. One ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids per year! Aphids are extremely detrimental to plant communities. They suck the sap out of plants, which contributes to decline in many ways and even death. They can also transmit diseases between plants.

A feast fit for a Lady Beetle. Picture by Nick OnestoSevere harm can be done before you even know what hit your plants. Pest larvae feed on a plant's roots beneath the soil surface. Beneficial nematodes work underground to eat soil pests like grubs (beetle larvae), flea larvae and maggots (fly larvae), but they don't eat pest nematodes. Grubs (larvae form of beetles) eat the roots of your lawn. When applying, mix the nematodes with water and apply either early in the morning or around dusk as they're sensitive to light. Make sure soil is moist before applying so they can move through the soil and water again after applying. It can take anywhere from 2-30 days to see results, so be patient. There are different types of nematodes that will attack different pests so make sure you choose the correct one for your pest problem.

Mosquitoes, well, I believe we are all familiar with these pesky insects. Itchy bites, West Nile, Malaria, the list goes on. I could write a whole entry on these annoying insects alone. If you're lucky enough to have some dragonflies hanging around, don't chase them away! Dragonflies like to linger close to water and they eat insects like gnats and mosquitoes.

Lightning bugs are a beetle I can get behind. Their larvae like to nosh on slugs and snails. If you've come upon hostas ravaged with holes through the leaves, the likely culprit is slugs. There are many kinds of slugs that will eat a variety of plants, vegetables, flowers, earthworms (which are a garden's friends), and more. They are truly one of the garden's most prolific pests. They can also carry parasites, so make sure you wash your garden edibles carefully before you eat them lest you accidentally ingest a slug.

Tree Care Long Island offers beneficial insect applications. Check with our Plant Healthcare expert, Gary Carbocci, to learn about our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) services to protect your landscape investment. Talk to one of our experienced designers if you need to replace or repair a portion of your landscape damaged by pests.

Thursday
May082014

Summer Plant Protection

Gazania blooms best in hot, sunny areas. Can't wait for summer to see these beauties!

It's still hard to believe summer is finally here to stay. So after a plant friendly and cool spring it is time to get ready for the hot weather. Our lawns and plants fared well so far and now it is time for all of us, plants and people, to make that seasonal adjustment.

Water is a plant's best friend during the high heat of summer under the blazing hot sun. Right now  your irrigation system should be set on a summer schedule. Maybe it is time to evaluate what type of system you have. Is it as efficient as it could be? In spring you don't need a lot of supplemental irrigation but when the temperatures begin to climb and rain isn't on the horizon, that system will be getting a lot more use. It is better to water less frequently and more deeply than every day for only a few minutes. You want to make sure the water penetrates through the mulch layer and can reach the roots. A drip system lays under the mulch/soil and uses less water than a traditional mist or rotary heads.

Early in the day is the best time to irrigate. If you water in the middle of the day, most of the water will evaporate before it has a chance to penetrate through the soil. If you water late in the day fungus will develop, especially in your lawn. Avoid letting water collect on leaves in the middle of the day; like ants under a magnifying glass, the leaves will fry. Leave your lawn 3-3.5" high in the hottest months. This will help keep the roots cooler by providing some shade. Cutting too short can contribute to browning out. When mowing your lawn, remove no more than 1/3 of the lawn's height at one time. 

Healthy, vibrant lawn. No weeds, well irrigated and maintained.

A few organic choices for the garden that will help your plants thrive include mulch, compost and pruning. Incorporating compost into your soil adds organic matter and will give your plants a boost in nutrients, minimizing the need for synthetic fertilizers. Mulching around your plants keeps the soil cooler in summer and helps with moisture retention. Also, you can mitigate potential damage from poor air circulation or low light penetration with proper pruning.

When it gets hot and humid, there are certain pests and diseases that thrive. Scale, Black Spot, Powdery Mildew and Fungus Gnats are several  to watch out for. Call us if you see small, fuzzy white things that jump on and off of your plants or if you see black spots or a white film on any leaves.  If you see clouds of tiny flying insects, most likely around a wet area, it could be fungus gnats. While they are harmless to humans (they only feed on rotting organic matter) this could indicate you have a standing water issue, which will attract a much worse insect: the mosquito. Our sister company, Tree Care Long Island, has several treatments including horticultural pruning, beneficial insects and liquid and granular applications (including organic options), to treat these issues.

More insects to watch out during the summer include Aphids and Leafhoppers, Grubs, and Spider Mites. Aphids and Leafhoppers can spread scale and powdery mildew between your plants. Grubs eat the roots of your lawn, creating bare patches and holes in your lawn from predators like crows and raccoons digging for dinner. Spider Mites suck the juices out of a plant's leaves and/or needles and cause the plants to defoliate and die.

Is your landscape ready for the heat of summer? If you see any of these conditions, or would like our advice, just contact us and we will be happy to help.

Click here for a Newsletter version of this post.