Put Out The Fire: The Secret To Controlling Fire Ants

Fire Ants

The fire ant is the name lovingly given to several species of ants in the genus Solenopsis. These Solenopsis a.k.a. fire ants are stinging (thus burdensome) ants that are most commonly found in the Southeast and Southcentral regions of the United States. The painful stings caused by red ants are more than an annoyance.

For those suffering with an allergy to red ants or young children who are more susceptible to stumbling into a nest of red ants, the minor annoyance. In addition, fire ants have a negative impact on livestock and wildlife as well as plant, sod and landscaping. So, it’s agreed upon that fire ants need to be controlled, but however, do we accomplish this mission?

Good question…of course, Spring-Green, your neighborhood lawn professionals with over 20 years of experience, has the answers you need to rid your lawn and your life of these pesky, fiery ants!

Fire Ants Be Gone! Tips To Control Fire Ants Once And For All

Would you know a fire ant mound if you saw one? The fire ant will build its mound nearly anywhere in any type of soil. Most typically, you’ll find the red ant mound in open, sunny areas or even under buildings or rotting logs and tree stumps. Unlike other types of ant mounds, the fire ant mound has no opening in the center as the fire ant enters and exits its mound via underground tunnels.

Oftentimes, red ant mounds are mistaken for innocent mounds of dirt, until they agitated ants come out stinging because they’ve been disturbed. A single fire ant mound can contain upwards of 500,000 fire ants. Even worse, by the time you see (hopefully not stumble upon) a fire ant mount above ground, its population has been slowly growing for a matter of months.

How to prevent fire ants from coming to your lawn. Because fire ants are extremely common in the Southern areas of the United States, a preventative measure is a good idea. The “broadcasting method” of fire ant control is a good preventative step.

Broadcasting put simply is treating an area with fire ant bait a couple times a year during the warm months to keep these insects from finding a home in your lawn. Broadcasting can prevent in the ballpark of 80% of fire ant infestation.

How to get rid of fire ants once they’ve arrived. If you have a fire ant infestation, your burning question is most likely, “Help, how do I get rid of fire ants?” Like most things in life timing matters and fire ant control is no exception. Full-yard and fire ant mound treatments are best applied during early morning and early evening. These times of day are optimal because fire ants are searching for food and traveling back feed their colony’s queens.

When are fire ants most common? Understanding the patterns of these pesky insects activity helps in the preventative measures which are always the best way to control fire ants. During spring and fall, when the soil and weather is warm, these insects are most active and closest to the surface of your lawn.

The best way to control fire ants is through understanding of where to find them, when to find them and how to prevent them. If you are one of the unlucky who gets an infestation of fire ants, you’ll also want to be in-the-know on how to get rid of them! No worries, however, your Spring-Green Lawn Pro is only a phone call away.

Controlling fire ants is often a larger task than a home or business owner can successfully tackle on his or her own. Spring-Green has the experience, expertise and dedication to customer service needed to keep these pesky ants at bay all year round.

Our team will work hard to:

• Manage activity and reduces foraging
• Reduce risk of painful stings when mound is disrupted
• Remove unsightly mound construction in lawn

Contact your Spring-Green lawn professional today!

Do It Yourself (DIY) Pest Control vs Hiring a Professional

When it comes to common insects in and around your home such as spiders, ants and even roaches, many people are bypassing the pest control professionals and are attempting to do things on their own. Applying your own pest control products may seem easy, but there is a lot more to it. The first step in controlling any pest problem in your home is correct identification.

A complete life cycle has four stages – egg, larva, pupa and adult. An incomplete life cycle has three life stages – egg, nymph and adult. If you can identify the insect: which life stage is controllable and when does it typically present itself? By the time you see the damage from disease activity, it is often too late to apply a preventative pest control treatment. Again, you need to be able to identify which insect is present and know the time that will work for controlling the insect. Identifying and treating pest problems is not as easy as you may imagine.

Deciding to DIY or Hire Pest Control Professional

Once you have identified the insect, determined the proper time to control it and purchased the correct product, making the actual application may be the easiest part – if you own the proper equipment. Is the pest control material applied in a granular formulation or is it applied as a liquid application? If it is a granular product, do you have the correct type of spreader to apply it. If it is a liquid product, what type of sprayer will work best for applying the product? You also need to know the size of the area that will be treated. The rates for most products are expressed as units per 1,000 sq. ft., such as pounds for granular products or ounces for liquid products. Most homeowners do not know the size of their lawn or landscape areas, so the amount of product applied may be too high and cause damage or too low and be ineffective.

Determining which product to use can also be a challenge. There are even some products that claim to be organic and not harm beneficial insects. These products work well, but the can does not go very far.  You may need to use four or five cans to treat around your entire home – one time.

Almost all the control products that professional lawn and tree care companies use are considered General Use products, meaning anyone can purchase and use them. Many of these products are not sold in the typical hardware store, garden center or home improvement center. This is not because they are dangerous to use, but because they are expensive to purchase or are sold in quantities that the typical homeowner will never use up. There is still a wide selection of insect control products available to purchase, but most people don’t spend the time to look at the label to determine if the active ingredient will control the pest that is being targeted.

Spring-Green Pest Control*

Not all insect control products will control all insects. Reading the product label is the most important aspect of using any pest control product. There is more to the label than target pests and application rates. There are instructions on watering and mowing requirements as well as the need to use any personal protective equipment such as rubber gloves and/or boots along with eye protection. There is more to controlling pests and that includes instructions, process, and safety.  Spring-Green offers several insect control services such as Perimeter Pest Control to prevent bugs and other intruders from entering your home, and Mosquito Protection Program that creates a barrier around your home to control mosquito activity. Using a professional lawn and tree care company like Spring-Green will ensure the correct products are used at the proper time to control these pesky pests!

*Not available in all locations

What Attracts Mosquitoes and How to Avoid Bites

mosquitoes

Did you know only the female mosquitoes bite? Female mosquitoes use blood meals for its protein and other components it contains in order to produce their eggs. Males do not feed on blood; they mainly sip on plant nectar.

When females bite, they are doing what comes natural to them in order to survive. That does not make their bites any less bothersome, but maybe a little more understandable. There are 175 different species of mosquitoes and they have been around for about 170 million years, so they are not going away anytime soon.

What Attracts Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by the release of carbon monoxide, something we do every minute of every day. Anything that can raise your metabolic rate is going to increase the amount of carbon monoxide you exhale. Pregnant women and people who are overweight have higher metabolic rates even at rest and so do people who exercise or are very active outside.

They are also attracted to movement, so the more active you are, the greater the chance you will be noticed. This can be increased by consuming beer at the same time as beer or most alcohols also increase your metabolic rate.

Mosquitoes can smell a victim from over 150 feet away. When we exercise or are very active, especially in the summer time, we develop body odor from the bacteria that grows on our skin. This body odor is an attractant to mosquitoes. Washing frequently is an option, but so is avoiding perfumes or other scents that can act as an attractant.

Some people claim that mosquitoes like them more, and to a certain extent that is true. Some people produce more secretions than others and those secretions are an attractant for mosquitoes. So is blood type. People with Type O blood seem to attract more mosquitoes than people with Type A or B. There is not much one can do about your genetics that dictate your blood type of how much of a certain substance your body produces. Be sure to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites if you have Type O blood.

How to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes don’t have acute eye sight and rely on images that easily stand out. A dark background on a landscape is easier for a mosquito to distinguish than a lighter colored image. That is why wearing light colored clothing makes more sense, so does wearing clothing made of tightly woven, breathable fabrics that are more difficult for the long nose or proboscis of a mosquito to penetrate.

Some other ideas to avoid mosquito bites is to stay indoors at dawn or dusk as that is when mosquitoes are most active. Mosquitoes are very bad when it comes to flying and can be kept away with a fan when indoors. Even setting up a fan outdoors can provide some relief from mosquito bites.

Use an insect repellant when outside during the day or night. One of the most effective dermally-applied formulations is one that contains DEET, but at no less than 15% DEET. Another product that has been shown to be as effective as DEET is picaridin. A relatively new product is designed to be worn as a click-on container and houses a tiny fan that releases a small amount of metofluthrin.

Reducing water sources is very important when trying to reduce mosquito populations. Empty water dishes, flower pot drainage trays, watering cans, bird baths or any other place where water can collect and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Another great way to reduce mosquito populations around your home is to apply an insect control product or mosquito control application to the landscape and other places mosquitoes like to hide when they are not active. To learn more about these services, contact your local neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

Ways to Prevent Flea and Tick Problems For Your Pets

fleas ticks

If you have ever had to endure an attack of fleas or ticks on your pet, you will understand the frustration of trying multiple approaches to eliminate this nuisance from your home and yard. Having had to endure an outbreak of fleas on my dog last fall, I have come to understand the futility that comes with trying to control these nasty little insects.

It required three trips to the vet, numerous baths, extensive cleaning and vacuuming, an outdoor insect control application and “bombing” our house twice before the problem ended. It took over two months to clear up the problem.

“How did our dog get fleas?” was the question my wife asked me. It is a very good question, as we have lived in our home almost 30 years and had two other dogs during that time.

Neither of them have ever had a problem with fleas, so why did we have them last fall? Fleas are a part of nature; for better or worse. I suppose they do fill a need as food for some other insects, but they are part of the natural world.

The same is true with ticks, although ticks are considered the vector or source for many diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and Spotted fever. Fleas are associated with the spread of Murine Typhus in humans and three afflictions that infect dogs and cats like tapeworms and Cat Scratch disease.

What are some ways you can limit the chances that your pet will end up contracting one of these maladies from fleas and/or ticks?

Here are some things to consider with fleas and ticks on pets:

Is your dog or cat an “outside” or “inside” pet?

The more time your pet spends outside, the greater the chance that they may come in contact with fleas, especially if other wildlife frequent your yard. Squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, skunks and even other dogs can be the source of fleas. A flea can jump up to 7 inches vertically and up to 13 inches horizontally, making it a champion jumper among all known animals, relative to body size. In other words, the flea has the ability to jump from the lawn and land on to your pet. It all starts with just one flea to start the egg-laying process.

Does your dog go to a dog park or dog care center?

Again, if your dog spends a good deal of time with other dogs, there is a better chance that he/she may get fleas from a furry friend. Dog parks usually feature wide open spaces with taller grass and small shrubs, which are both good locations for ticks.

Are your lawn and gardens properly maintained?

Fleas and ticks prefer cool, shaded areas that are infrequently cared for through pruning and mowing. By staying current on mowing and pruning, you may be able to limit the ideal environment for fleas and ticks.

How often is your pet bathed?

If you are using a topical ointment to prevent fleas and ticks, make sure it is waterproof. The instructions that came with the product will let you know how long you should wait before bathing your dog after applying the medication.

Do you live in a wooded area or next to an area with tall grass?

These are both great locations for fleas and ticks. If possible, keep underbrush from encroaching on your property through trimming. Mow a strip or two of grass as a filter strip between your lawn and the tall grasses.

The other thing to do is to apply an insect control to your grass and shrubs to control any fleas or ticks that may be present. This should be applied about every three to four weeks, especially if you have had past experiences with fleas and ticks. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any insect control product.

Contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care Professional to schedule your flea and tick control applications this summer. I know that I will be having my lawn treated real soon.

Fall Armyworm Alert

armyworm

The term “Armyworm” comes due to the fact that they usually move in large numbers across a lawn and can devour almost every grass plant they reach. In southern states, their favorite grass is Bermuda and generally leave Centipede and St. Augustine untouched.

Armyworms have a habit of crawling up on a grass blade during the day, looking like they are enjoying the sunshine. Actually, they are just eating the blade from the tip down, but it is an interesting site to see.

Since they can move in such large numbers, activity can go unnoticed until it is too late. Armyworms don’t kill the plant as they only feed on the grass blades, but a green lawn can quickly become a brown lawn seemingly overnight.

Feeding

Fall Armyworms will feed on many turfgrasses, including Bermuda Grass, Tall Fescue, and Perennial Ryegrass. They will also feed on grain crops as well as many vegetables including carrots, cabbage and sweet potato.

Breeding

Female Armyworms have an interesting habit when it comes to laying eggs. They look for vertical surfaces on which to deposit anywhere from 50 to 250 eggs at a time. In the summer, the eggs can hatch in as little as 4 days and the larva start feeding immediately after hatching.
It is difficult to predict if and when they will hatch and start feeding on lawns. Generally, they are active anywhere from August through October, depending on location.

Controlling Them

The number one predator of Armyworms are birds. They can do a fairly good job when the populations are small. When populations climb, it is best to use chemical control methods.

There was an article on the possibility of early Fall Armyworm activity from North Carolina State University Turf Alerts. It was an alert as they have already been capturing adult Fall Armyworm moths in pheromone traps that are set up to monitor these insects. Fall Armyworms don’t over winter in the U.S. except for the extreme south Florida.

The northern migration should just be beginning in some of the southern states and will take a couple of generations to make it as far north as North Carolina. The article was clear that finding Fall Armyworms at this time of year is unusual, which makes it concerning. As was stated in the article, “It doesn’t mean we will have massive outbreaks or even outbreaks happening really early, but it is a warning.”

If you think your lawn is being attacked by Fall Armyworms, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

Where Do Insects Go in Winter? Winter and its Effect on Insect Populations

Winter Trees

I’ve been asked many times what impact a really cold or mild winter has on insect populations. It is a good question and one that begs a better answer than the actual truth… a really cold or mild winter does not make much of a difference for the survival of insect populations.

Insects have been around for millions of years and have endured all sorts of weather patterns. Because of this they have adapted to survive and persist despite the winter weather.

But Where Do Insects Go in the Winter?

Many insects simply enter a dormant stage called diapause. It can occur in winter, or summer, and is a fairly common occurrence. Many insects have the ability to dehydrate themselves during the winter. Even the insects that may sneak into your house in the fall to escape the winter often dehydrate themselves.

Fly

If you’re wondering where insects go in the winter, check your windows. They hide on window sills and window edges as they wait for the return of warmer temperatures.

As a result, you may see a fly or Multi-colored Asian Lady Beetle flying around your house on a warm, sunny day in January. The warmth of the sun coming in through the window allows them to re-hydrate and they will then attempt to fly around. If you’ve seen this, you may have noticed that the insect flies in a zig-zag pattern, and that they are very easy to catch in mid-flight.

What Effect Does Winter Have on Insects like the Emerald Ash Borer?

Many people thought the recent “Polar Vortex” of 2014 would reduce Emerald Ash Borer populations. While it may have reduced the populations in some areas in the far north, the overall average mortality rate was only about 5% or so. This is because the cold weather didn’t last long enough to result in a greater impact on populations. Also, even in cold weather the sun will warm-up a tree enough so that the larva stays warm and is protected from the bitter cold.
The reality is that each year we will never know what will happen during the months of winter. The one thing that we do know is that insect populations are not greatly affected by the winter weather. And yes, they will still be a problem in lawns and landscapes when spring comes along!

Spring-Green offers an array of insect control services, from flea and tick control and mosquito control in certain markets to perimeter pest control, which prevents spiders, ants and other critters from entering your home. Get in touch with your local Spring-Green to find out more about our guaranteed insect control services.

How to Get Rid of Grubs: Identification and Treatment

A Spring-Green reader, concerned with which treatment options work best for which grub species, sent in the following question on grub control:

“Do I need to be sure what species of grub is in my lawn before I treat it? If so, how do I identify which grub it is? I was told that milky spore powder only works for the Japanese beetle grub? Is this true? I suspect a moth grub but can’t be sure. We are in Sedona, Arizona. Thank you for your time and expertise.”

Mr. Griffin,
Thank you for sending in your question on how to get rid of grubs. No, you don’t need to know what species of grub is in your lawn to treat for it with conventional methods. Grubs are the larval stage of adult beetles. You are correct that Milky Spore, Paenibacillus papillae, will only control Japanese beetle larvae. Identifying grubs is a little more complicated. This is done by looking at the pattern of hairs on their raster, or backside, such as you see in this picture. Japanese beetles have a v-shaped pattern of hairs. The trick is getting them to hold still long enough to examine them with a 10X hand lens. There are about 15 species of grubs that can attack a lawn. If you want to check, you can either place them in a formaldehyde solution or you can cut off the back half of the grub to inspect it. Suffice it to say that if you have grubs and they are damaging your lawn, the fastest way to get rid of grubs is to apply an insect control application. The product that works best on active grubs is called Dylox. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using the product. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions on how to get rid of grubs.

grub identification

Want to ask Spring-Green expert Harold Enger a question about your unique lawn care situation? Submit your question to the blog today!

Spider Ballooning

Jim Hoelsworth, franchisee from Vineland, NJ, recently sent in a picture of an upright yew covered with some sort of webbing. What he is seeing is the mass hatching of spiders, producing long strands of silk that catch in the wind to disperse them to another location. This process is called “ballooning” and it enables them to float long distances.

Spiders will hatch in both spring and fall in large numbers, but fall is the time when most spiders hatch. When the hatching of one species occurs on a windy day, their “balloons” blow into each other and become entangled with each other into a large mass, as what you see in this picture.

Spider ballooning passes in a couple of days and the excess spiders will eat each other and it will be over. The webbing can be washed off the shrubs with a strong stream of water. There is no real reason to spray an insect control product as the new spiders do a good job controlling their own population.

The first time I saw ballooning spiders was in the early 1980s when I was called to a customer’s home because there were spider webs all over the front of the their home. I thought they were exaggerating until I pulled up to see an amazing site. The front of their house was nearly covered in spider webs and so was their car in the driveway. It was like a scene out of the Twilight Zone. I really did not know what to recommend, but I remember that I did not see any spiders crawling over the webbing. I told the customer to sweep off the webbing and that should take care of it. I was able to learn the story behind spider ballooning from someone at the University of Illinois Extension Service.
Unfortunately, this was before digital cameras or cell phones, so you will just have to take my word that I did see this weird phenomenon and it was a creepy site.

They’re Back – Understanding and Controlling Japanese Beetles

JapaneseBeetle_474x180

This is the time of year when the annual onslaught of adult Japanese beetles occurs. These voracious feeders are making leaves look like lace as they feed between the veins. The size of this year’s population is anyone’s guess, but the likelihood that it will be as big as last year is almost a certainty.

Japanese beetles first arrived in the US in the early 20th century and were first reported in New Jersey. They originated in Japan, where they are not considered a major pest. Once they made their way to the US, there were no natural predators and they had an abundance of plant material to feed on. They slowly worked their way west feeding on trees, shrubs, fruit and flowers. Some of their favorite plants to feed on are Lindens, roses, and grapes, but they will feed on many other plants as well.

Japanese Beetles are easily recognizable by their copper-colored wing covers and by the white tufts of hair on their back end. They are the adult stage of an annual white grub. At this time of year, the adults are feeding andmating and the females are laying eggs in lawns. The eggs hatch into grubs about two to three weeks after they are laid. The grubs will feed for about 6 to 8 weeks, feeding on soil, grass roots and other organic material in the soil. In mid to late October, they will dig themselves deep down into the ground where they stay over winter. In the spring, they will rise back up to the upper soil zone, do some light feeding, form a cocoon and pupate back into adults next summer.

Some customers will ask why they still get Japanese beetle adults feeding on their landscape when they have received a grub control application. The reason is that the material we apply for grub control will work on the newly hatched grubs, but not on the adults. The adults have wings and can fly a mile or more in search of food. There are many insect control products that will take care of the adults. You can also contact your neighborhood Spring-Green yard care expert to discuss Japanese beetle control options.

Keep Those Pesky Mosquitoes Away

Mosquito_501X200

Most everyone enjoys being outdoors in the summer time. It is the time of year for picnics, gardening, swimming and the like. Summer is also time for mosquitoes. They seem to be worse in the early morning and at dusk. Mosquitoes can make an enjoyable activity a disaster when they arise from the lawn and landscape to feed on people and animals.

What can you do about it besides swatting them after they have already bitten you? You can spray yourself with one of a myriad of repellants that will keep them off of you until it either wears off or the mosquito finds that one spot that you forgot to spray. Or, you can take a more long-lasting approach to mosquito control and take advantage of Spring-Green’s yard services . I take care of mosquitoes in my yard by applying a specialized product that keeps them at bay for up to a month.

I follow the same program that Spring-Green uses for their Mosquito Control Program . They apply a controlled-release product that delivers a lethal dose of insect control when a mosquito lands or moves across the spray droplet. That way, I don’t have to worry about finding the can of mosquito repellant each time I go outside. I can sit on my patio all evening throughout the summer without worrying about being bitten by mosquitoes.