Posts tagged pesticides

Getting ready for Japanese beetles

   I’ve been keeping a careful watch for Japanese beetles in my garden and enjoying my roses before the pesky beetle begins its annual invasion. The city of Cedar Rapids sent out the following today, (June 8, 2009) which made me wonder if Japanese beetles had already emerged. City arborist Daniel Gibbons, who wrote the article, assured me that he hadn’t seen any. Yet.

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles

But, they will arrive, worse in some areas than others. If you haven’t seen this foreign invader yet, be grateful. Whether or not you have, read the following from Daniel Gibbons to learn more:

Japanese beetle has become one of the most destructive and frustrating pests for gardeners, farmers, and green industry professionals.  A transplant from Japan during the early 1900’s, Japanese beetle (Popillia japonica Newman) populations have enjoyed explosive growth across the East and Midwest.  Damage inflicted by various stages in the beetle’s life cycle can be severe to turf grasses, agricultural crops, and over 300 ornamental trees and landscape plants.  The USDA estimated in 2007 that control measures alone cost over $460 million.

Success of the non-native Japanese beetle can be primarily attributed to a lack of natural predators and a supportive climate and food source.  Although eradication is not feasible, successful management leading to reduced populations will minimize pest damage.  Those who succeed in managing Japanese beetle do so by gaining local cooperation, using an integrated approach to natural and chemical control, and by shrewdly selecting plant material when designing a garden or landscape.

Local cooperation is critical because of Japanese beetle mobility.  Despite the best efforts of one property owner, beetles from neighboring yards are usually a significant problem.  Success will increase if adjoining neighborhoods and property owners cooperate with sound management techniques.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is simply the use of multiple control techniques to reduce the comprehensive use of pesticides.  When properly used, IPM creates a healthy biotic environment in which populations of undesirable pests are reduced over time by the introduction of predatory elements, resistant plants, and targeted use of pesticides when necessary. 

Natural predators of Japanese beetle include microscopic nematodes (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora), naturally occurring soil bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis), and the spores of Bacillus popillae (referred to as “Milky Spore”).  The success of these and other products can be effective, but depends on adherence to application and storage directions, climatic and soil conditions, and the presence of other pesticides or chemicals which may be harmful to these living organisms.  Products such as Milky Spore will become more effective over the span of several years when the bacterium has had time to establish.

Application of pesticides may be used to reduce heavy infestations, but should be performed by competent and trained applicators.  Some chemicals may only be used by licensed pesticide applicators.  Considerations in choosing insecticides to control Japanese beetle will include application method, seasonal timing, location, type of plant material being protected, and the presence of sensitive environment features such as waterways.  Assistance in choosing the latest formulation of pesticide for a particular site may be obtained from local garden shops or government extension agencies.

Finally, avoiding plants and trees that are susceptible to Japanese beetle is the best method to reduce the pest’s impact on a particular landscape or garden.  Keeping landscape plants healthy will also increase resistance.  The following trees are specifically targeted by Japanese beetle: Linden, Birch, Norway and Japanese maple, pin oak, beech and horse-chestnut.  Trees that show resistance to the beetle include hickory, red maple, tulip poplar, dogwood, northern red oak, pine, spruce, arborvitae and hemlock.  Resistant herbaceous plant groups include: Columbine, ageratum, coreopsis, coral-bells, showy sedum, hosta, and forget-me-not.  Herbaceous plants to avoid in areas where beetle populations are high include: rose, hibiscus, evening primrose, clematis, sunflower, peony, zinnia, asparagus and morning-glory.

Despite recent challenges with Japanese beetle, thoughtful management can reduce the impact to community gardens and landscapes.  Education, cooperation and savvy IPM practices will also reduce the impact on our pocketbooks, while promoting a healthy and vibrant growing season.

More information on Japanese beetle may be obtained through the following online sources: “Managing the Japanese Beetle: A Homeowner’s Handbook”    http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/JB3-07.indd.pdf

Iowa State University – Iowa Insect Information Notes http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/iiin/node/125

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Poisoned Fruit

Following is an excerpt of a new report by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food.

The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy

Produce Imports Overwhelm American Farmers and Consumers

Americans are consuming more imported fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned produce, and fruit juice than ever before.  An examination of U.S. consumption of produce that is commonly eaten as well as grown in America found that over the past 15 years Americans’ consumption of imported fresh fruits and vegetables doubled, but border inspection has not kept pace with rising imports, and less than one percent of the imported produce is inspected by the federal government. 

 

Food & Water Watch studied fifty common fruit and vegetable products like fresh apples, frozen broccoli, fresh tomatoes, orange juice and frozen potatoes and found that:

Imports made up one out of ten fresh fruits and one out of nine fresh vegetables Americans ate in 1993 (10.1 and 11.7 percent, respectively) but by 2007 the import consumption share doubled to more than one out of five fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (22.3 percent of fresh fruit and 23.9 percent of fresh vegetables). 

The share of imported processed (canned or frozen) produce tripled, from 5.2 percent of frozen packages or cans in 1993 to 15.9 percent in 2007. 

The share of imported fruit juice (orange, apple and grape) grew by 61 percent, from about a third of American consumption (30.8 percent) in 1993 to about half of consumption (49.5 percent) in 2007. 

On average, each American consumed 20 pounds of imported fresh fruit, 31 pounds of imported fresh vegetables and 24 pounds of imported processed produce and drank three gallons of imported juice in 2007.

Imports of fresh fruits (except bananas), fresh vegetables and processed produce essentially tripled, rising from 10 billion pounds in 1990 to 30 billion pounds in 2007.

Imported produce was more than three times more likely to contain the illness-causing bacteria Salmonella and Shigella than domestic produce, according to the latest FDA survey of imported and domestic produce.

Imported fruit is four times more likely to have illegal levels of pesticides and imported vegetables are twice as likely to have illegal levels of pesticide residues as domestic fruits and vegetables.

The hidden dangers on imported fruits and vegetables can enter U.S. supermarkets because the FDA inspects only the tiniest fraction of imported produce. Less than one percent of imported fresh produce shipments were inspected at the border in recent years.

To see the full report, go to: www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/imports/the-poisoned-fruit-of-american-trade-policy

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Keeping a pot in the house

   Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith, offered the following on keeping mum pots in the house and other fall advice for Iowans:

               

Feel free to ask questions:  Master Gardeners love to visit.  If a M.G. doesn’t have an answer, he/she will be eager to do the research for an answer as well as satisfy our own ongoing curiosity of all plants living—and sometimes dead.  Following are some common fall inquiries:

·         Most trees can be trimmed between December and February.   Hold off on fruit trees until late February.  Clean instruments between trees to prevent disease transfer.  Cut outside of the “collar”.  Maximum trimming should be 1/3 of the tree.

·         Grape Hyacinth may send up shoots now:  it should be o.k.

·         Saving Dahlias and Callas:  do not store in plastic bags as moisture will create mold.  Layer the bulbs, but don’t allow them to touch by putting vermiculate between them.  Cure the bulbs in a warm area for a few days then store at 45’ in the basement.   Do not allow the bulbs to freeze.

·         Oleander can be trimmed.  Cut ¼ off to main branch.

·         Clematis:  some of rabbit’s favorite food!  Try fencing with chicken wire.   No need to mulch.

·         Burning Bush:  can be trimmed any time, but recommend after leaf loss.  Vibrant color this year possibly due to excess spring moisture.

·         Spirea can be trimmed now.

·         Geraniums can be left potted in a sunny window for the winter.  Or, shake off the root dirt and hang upside down in a paper bag in the basement or unheated attic. Dip roots in water monthly.  In February, cut away dried area leaving nubbins.  Dip in Root Tone after potting to initiate growth.

·         Mums:  generally not winter hardy.  Root system won’t withstand Iowa’s freezing winter.   Can keep in pot in the house if cut back.  Plant in the spring on the south/sunny side of the house.

·         House Plants:  will probably have little new growth as they use spend energy adjusting to being moved inside.  

·         Routinely monitor animal management strategy.  In years of high animal population and limited food (think last winter!), they will eat almost anything.

·         Pest –free debris from fall clean up can be composted.

·         Do not fertilize now.  Improve the soil with the addition of shredded leaves, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter.

·         Drain garden hose and put away. 

·         Direct sunlight and freezing temperatures can diminish efficacy of liquid pesticides and fertilizers.

 

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Runoff resolution

With the copious amounts of rainfall Eastern Iowa has received this spring, the Iowa Storm Water Education Program offers the following timely advice on lawns, runoff and water quality:

 

 

 

Can a Healthy Lawn Improve Water Quality?

 

 

   If you live in a newer neighborhood, chances are that during construction the valuable topsoil was removed from the site (and may even have been sold) and what remains is heavy clay subsoil.

    Heavy equipment was driven across this soil causing compaction. Then, once construction was completed and lawn preparation began, the compacted soil was lightly scraped, a thin layer of topsoil added, and sod applied over the top of that. In most cases, the lawn now functions similar to placing sod on top of a concrete block!

    The soil is so heavily compacted that the roots can’t penetrate to obtain the necessary nutrients from subsurface soils. This results in having to water frequently and over apply lawn chemicals.

     Rainfall that runs off compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots, rooftops, and streets flows into the storm drains. It is not directed to a wastewater treatment plant, but simply discharged, untreated, directly into local streams and lakes. The major concern with this is all the excess fertilizer, pesticides, motor vehicle fluids and sediment that accumulates on compacted lawns, driveways, parking lots and streets. These pollutants, carried along with the rainfall runoff, contaminate and severely pollute and impair our local waterways.

     What can you do to change this situation? There are a number of key things you can do with your own property. The starting point is to soak up as much of the rainfall on your property as you can, so that it doesn’t flow into the street. If your lawn is of the compacted type described above, chances are, it is not helping to reduce the runoff.

     Here are a few suggestions:

• Restore the health of your lawn by aerating and then apply a thin (1/4-1/2”) layer

of compost and seed.

• Use fertilizers containing zero phosphorus (the middle number on the fertilizer

bag indicates the quantity of phosphorus). Sweep up any fertilizer that is spread

onto sidewalks, driveways or streets and spread it back on the lawn.

• Use native landscaping and native turf in your yard.

 

     We all need to protect and improve the water quality in our streams and lakes. Please think about doing your part!

     Visit http://www.iowastormwater.org to learn more about storm water issues and contact your local community for additional educational information on storm water management.

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White grub watch

The following information is from Donald Lewis, Iowa State University Extension entomologist. For more information from Lewis on grubs, as well as insects,  see the Feb 3 “Lightning bugs eat WHAT??” blog post.

 

Spring is here and the grass looks as good as it is going to look all summer. Since you want to keep it that way you have probably been considering treating for white grubs, either because you have experienced white grub damage in the past, or your friends and neighbors have complained about white grub damage, or a lawn care salesperson’s pitch got you a little excited if not a little scared. Put the insecticide down and step away from the sprayer. We need to talk.

 

Biology and Habits

The white grubs that routinely damage lawns in Iowa are called annual white grubs. These root-eating, underground June beetle larvae have one generation per year and take one year to complete their life cycle of egg, larva, pupa and adult. The adult beetles of our annual white grubs are specific kinds of June beetles called masked chafers. They are tan or straw brown in color and as the name implies, they have a black stripe across the eyes and face. The masked chafers begin flying in late June and lay eggs in the turf during July.

 

The eggs hatch in two to three weeks and tiny white grub larvae begin to eat the grass roots. The grubs grow rapidly and are fully grown at one inch in length by late August or September. White grubs are pudgy, off-white except for the brown head and typically bent in the shape of the letter “C.”  Feeding by the grubs prunes the roots from the plants and causes the grass to wilt and fade. 

 

Extreme feeding by populations of 10 or more annual white grubs per square foot will cause the grass to die. White grubs move several inches deep in the soil to spend the winter. They move back near the surface in the spring time but cause little additional damage as they wait to pupate in June, emerge as adults and start the cycle over.

 

Management Options 

White grub populations and damage to lawns vary greatly from year to year and place to place, even varying from spot to spot within the same lawn due to variations in beetle numbers, weather, turfgrass vigor, soil conditions and other factors. There is no method that predicts if and where grubs will occur or how severe the damage will be. What happens in your lawn this summer is a random event and not directly tied to previous experience. Therefore, decisions concerning white grub management are difficult; there is no one right answer for everyone.

 

There are three basic approaches to grub management in the home lawn, depending on your tolerance for damage, comfort with pesticides and willingness to spend the cash. White grub insecticide treatments are not only expensive but hard to justify from an environmental standpoint.

 

In places such as golf courses and some lawns, the risk of any white grub damage is so intolerable that preventive insecticides are applied to every part of the lawn, every year. When this approach is chosen, the proper time of application is between early June and Aug. 15. A compromise modification of the golf course approach is to treat only those areas that have been previously damaged. Beetles tend to return to the same areas in successive years, so it is logical to treat the areas where the grubs were last year or the year before.

 

The second approach is the wait-and-see approach. Watch the lawn carefully for early signs of damage (wilting, turning brown) during August to early September when grubs could be feeding. Apply a curative insecticide only where and when needed. The risk is that you might still lose some sod, especially if summer rainfall or irrigation keeps the grass growing and vigorous through July and August. Damage symptoms may not appear until after it is too late for effective treatment (late September through late October).

 

Unfortunately, raccoons and skunks are much better at locating grub populations than we are and the first symptom of a grub problem in your turf is likely to be that your lawn was “plowed” by varmints overnight.

 

The final alternative is to do nothing. This may be easier to do if you count up how many years you DID NOT have grub damage. Divide the cost of replaced sod by that number of years. If the yearly-averaged cost is less than the price of insecticide, do nothing and take your lumps in the occasional year when damage occurs. This approach is much easier to follow if you believe “it’s just grass, anyway.”

 

White grub management decisions are difficult and frustrating. Many homeowners are frightened into applying grub controls because of advertisements on TV, in plant centers or because of horror stories they have heard about grub damage. Studies at Cornell University have shown that more than 70 percent of all grub control treatments were applied needlessly because there were no grubs in the lawn.

 

If you do choose to apply insecticides, read the application directions carefully before buying. Some grub treatments are preventive and must be applied before mid-August. Others are curative and work only if the grubs are present. Know which you are getting before you buy. Apply carefully according to label directions and thoroughly water in the insecticide. Watering accomplishes two things: it moves the insecticide into the soil where the grubs reside, and it removes the active ingredient from the surface and greatly reduces the hazard of insecticide exposure to people, pets and wildlife walking on treated turf.  Irrigate the treated area with at least one-half inch of water.

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