Web worms, mosquitoes, termites and other creatures
By Richard Keith Evans, Bryan County Extension Agent.
We have reached the time of year when we long for the cool relief of autumn, at least I am anyway.
I noticed some pests while working in my garden. This time of year is also a great time to spot and identify some of the pests you might find in your own trees or garden. As with any pest, the earlier it is discovered and identified, the sooner control measures can be initiated. I’ll discuss a few below. I notice nets in my trees, what are they? Well, there are two different caterpillars that network in trees. Eastern tent caterpillars form nets at the beginning of the year in which the branches come together. Autumn webworms form webs at the ends of the branches later in the year. In most cases, as with many pecan trees, the culprit is likely the fall webworm.
Neither of these are serious pests on trees.
If you want to destroy the bars, get a long bar with a hook on the end and pull the bars down.
Spraying the individual lanes helps a little, but you need to use enough water to penetrate the lanes. This is very difficult as the tracks are reasonably waterproof. You can also cut the ridges off the ends of the branches and burn them. When it comes to pest control, however, there are always pests that can be left alone. I suggest ignoring these pests, especially if they are difficult to get to. They are difficult to control and a healthy tree can survive their attack.
If you try to control the caterpillars, you can do more damage to the tree than the worms.
What about the nets I see in my grass? What you are seeing is likely a sod webworm. The turf webworm, particularly the tropical turf webworm, occurs in Georgia with peak activity in the fall from September to November.
As the colder temperatures set in, the population begins to decline. The larvae overwinter in the straw and then start feeding again when the weather warms up in spring. Tropical sward worm attacks all warm season lawn grasses, including Bermuda grass; St. Augustine grass; Centipede grass; and Zoysiagrass with a particular preference for Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass, the most common turf grass in Georgia.
The University of Georgia says about the pest: “If the first symptoms are already present in the lawn, the soil can be soaked with a soap solution to monitor and spot treatment of the pest. To do this, add 1 ounce of dish soap in 1 gallon of water and pour the solution over a 1 square meter area where infestation is suspected. This is known as the “soap flushing technique”. This soapy solution should kill the caterpillars. Watch out for the moths zigzagging over the lawn in the evenings.
Within a few days, these moths lay eggs and hatch from the eggs. This can happen within 7-14 days of the adult’s flight activity. Young sward caterpillars are small and difficult to find on lawns. Try the turfgrass for early stages of sward larvae or use the soap dish technique by counting the larvae to determine their density. Also, look for signs of early feeding activity on the grass, which appear as a small, yellow blob or patch similar to the yellowish blobs seen when urinating on lawns. The occurrence of feeding damage can be used as a threshold for the use of insecticides to stop further damage. The soap rinsing technique can be used to control larvae in the case of mild infestation.
What are the giant mosquitoes that have attacked me in the past few months? Are they dangerous?
With all the rain that we have accumulated this summer, we have generally seen large numbers of mosquitos. While most mosquitoes are already a nuisance, there is a certain species that only comes out after major rainfall events. It is called the Gulf Coast Gallinipper, or Muck Mosquito by some. It is almost impossible to confuse this monster mosquito with its smaller cousins in the genus Culex, Aedes, or Anopheles because of its size (roughly 20 times the size of a typical mosquito). There is both good and bad news regarding this pest. The bad news is that these jumbo mosquitoes feed on humans and animals and are quite aggressively foraging for a blood meal. In addition to their aggressive behavior, their bite can penetrate clothing quite easily. The good news, however, is that they are not known to be carriers of pathogens or viruses that can make us sick.
Control mosquitoes by reducing mosquito breeding sites (stagnant water).
To keep mosquitos away, Dr. Nancy Hinkle, UGA entomologist, made these suggestions. Wear light colored clothing. Dark colors attract mosquitoes.
Stay indoors at dusk and dawn. Use a home repellent that contains DEET. In areas with high levels of mosquitoes, you can spray Permanone insecticide on your clothes (but not on your skin!). Read and follow all directions on the label.
If you are using citronella candles, stand in the smoke. That drives away mosquitoes. Mosquito plants, electronic devices, garlic and herb bracelets do not repel mosquitoes.
Herbal remedies that are applied to the skin work in less than an hour.
Expect some of these pests in your garden at this time of year.
Contact our office for more information on how to control these pests.