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Some spring pests have arrived early

Staff Report -   Mar 23, 2006

This year's mild winter and warming temperatures have set up the perfect scenario for an early emergence of various insect pests.

One early appearing insect is the crane fly. These long legged flies scare man people each year who take them for giant mosquitoes. Although they look like a mosquito, they do not bite and are more of nuisance than anything. They are attracted to lights and often enter homes through doors and windows. Spraying a pyrethoid around doorways, as well as changing the outside white light to a yellow amber can greatly reduce the accumulation of crane flies around doorways.

Many trees damaged or weakened by hurricanes Katrina and Rita have created an ideal environment for bark beetles and shot hole borers. These insects drill into trees, but it is not the holes that do the most damage but a fungus that they carry and inject into the tree issue. As the fungus works to kill the branch, the beetle larvae feed on the fungus. The best approach for controlling these insects is to prune trees that are injured or stressed and apply Thiodan on the trunk and lower branches at the first sign of any holes in the bark.

Another of the spring pests that are already showing some concern for homeowners is the white grub worm. The white grub is the larval stage of the adult June bug and usually does not appear until late April. White grubs damage turf grass by eating the roots and serve as a main attractant for other unwanted pests such as raccoons, opossums, and especially armadillos that will dig up yards trying to get them as a food source. Where infestations are found Sevin, Merit or Mach 2 are the best management tools. Many garden centers carry these products as well as other granular products for grub control.

Crape Myrtle aphids are another pest that seems to be building an early population. These pests can multiply fast and reduce flowering ability. They also help spread cercospera leaf disease of crape myrtles. One of the best methods for controlling these pests is to apply an acephate product such as Orthene around the trunk of the crape myrtle. Mix the acephate with water into a paste-like solution and paint it around each trunk. Aphids will be stopped mid-way before they can reach the foliage of the tree.

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