Pest Tips – Termite Control Tampa
“Termites. What are they and how can I protect my home from them?”
Termites are among the most ancient of insects. There fossilized remains have been found in formations some 55 million years old. Each year they cause more damage to homes than fires, storms and floods combined. They feed on cellulose containing material such as wood, twigs, paper and cardboard. The average homeowner usually learns they have termites in their home when they have a swarm in the house. Swarming usually occurs in the spring right after a rainfall. Sometimes a homeowner may be remodeling a bathroom or kitchen and find they have an infestation and not even have known it.
Termites are divided into two main classifications. Drywood Termites and Subterranean Termites. Drywood termites infest dry, sound wood. They actually live in the wood they are infesting. They are most commonly found nesting in attics or in crawl spaces under a home. They excavate smooth galleries in the wood and the most obvious sign of infestation is the tiny fecal pellets which the termites eject from these galleries. They can also be found in furniture. In fact it is not uncommon to hear of instances where a person has purchased an antique piece of furniture and soon after experience a termite swarm in their home. Treatments for Drywood termites can range from tenting the structure to spot treating with borate chemicals.
Subterranean termites require moisture to survive and will nest in the ground. They are the more aggressive of the two. They can enter your home through a variety of ways. In most cases termites will enter the structure around the perimeter entering between the stucco or siding and the block or wood framing. Another entry point is where plumbing enters and exits through the foundation of your home. Prevention from subterranean termites is best achieved through eliminating conducive conditions. For example, try to leave a 3 to 4 inch gap between the siding and the ground so the foundation may be inspected. Gutter down spouts should carry water away from the structure. Treatments for subterranean termites range from the baiting or monitoring methods to chemical barriers. With the newer termiticides available today we can gear our approach towards eliminating the colony not just repelling the termites.
Healthy Bug-Free Lawn Tips
Water is perhaps the most important ingredient needed in achieving a healthy lush St. Augustine lawn. Fertilizers, soil conditions and site conditions are all important but without adequate water your lawn simply will not prosper. When St. Augustine turf dries out and becomes weak it becomes vulnerable to Chinch Bugs and other lawn destroying organisms. Chinch Bugs will become more active wherever the lawn is dry such as along sidewalks and driveways where the heat from these surfaces tends to dry out the turf. The first signs of dry turf are blades of grass that are folding in half and have a grey look to them.
April and May are the two months of the year that any irrigation issues you may have are going to appear. Without much rain in these months we rely on our irrigation systems to supply all the water needs for our turf. A thorough evaluation of your system should be done to identify any deficiencies. Some obvious things to look for are clogged heads or heads that don’t pop up at all. Check to see that the heads come up higher than the grass. You should mow your grass the day before you water your lawn so that this does not happen. You can also install risers under the heads to raise them up. Make sure that there are no shrubs or trees blocking the water from reaching your turf. Zones that have rotating heads should run longer than zones with stationary heads. These are some of the most common things I find when I’m called out to evaluate a lawn. There are more things to look at but the main point to realize is just because your irrigation system comes on does not mean it is working efficiently. Always check with your county extension office for the days and times you may water your lawn.
The best defense against lawn destroying insects and weeds is to have a thick healthy lawn. Efficient irrigation, proper mowing practices and a well planned fertilization and insecticide program will help you achieve your goal.
Please feel free to contact me at 1-813-995-9711 with any questions.
More Lawn Tips
Most of us who have St. Augustine grass have had some experience with Chinch bugs. This lawn destroying insect is perhaps the most damaging of all the lawn pests here in Florida. Chinch bugs have piercing mouthparts that suck the juices from the plant. The damage will quickly spread depending on the Chinch bug population and the stress level of the grass. Damage first appears as yellowing of the blades with a slight orange look and will eventually turn brown and die. There are other factors that can cause this appearance such as drought stress, fungus and other diseases so proper identification is important. To find Chinch bugs the easiest way is to kneel down along the fringe of the damaged area, not in a brown dead spot, and part the grass with your fingers. The time of day is important as Chinch bugs are more active on hot sunny days in the mid-afternoon. Look down in the thatch layer below the blades of grass and look for insect movement. The newly hatched are a bright orange and as they mature into adulthood turn black and appear to have a white spot on their back. This spot is where their wings are folded over. The adult chinch bug is approximately 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long. If chinch bugs are present you will no doubt see another insect called the “big eyed bug”. This insect is commonly mistaken for a chinch bug but is actually a predator and feeds on them. The big eyed bug is similar in size but more solid in color.
Control of chinch bugs is becoming more and more difficult. Products that were most effective in the past are no longer available for use on residential lawns. Chinch bugs are building up resistance to the newer insecticides making control even more of a challenge. Rotating your insecticides throughout the year will help with the resistance problem. Always follow the label on the product package. The label will give you the specific instructions needed to be the most effective. Most chinch bug insecticides will require you to water them in to push the product down to where the chinch bugs live and breed.ovement. The newly hatched are a bright orange and as they mature into adulthood turn black and appear to have a white spot on their back. This spot is where their wings are folded over. The adult chinch bug is approximately 1/8 to 1/10 of an inch long. If chinch bugs are present you will no doubt see another insect called the “big eyed bug”. This insect is commonly mistaken for a chinch bug but is actually a predator and feeds on them. The big eyed bug is similar in size but more solid in color.
There are other factors that can influence chinch bug control in your lawn. Proper mowing practices are very important. Never cut to short, in my opinion no shorter than four inches. Verticutting the lawn will reduce the thatch layer where chinch bugs live. Improper verticutting can damage your lawn so be sure to find a reputable company to perform this for you. Chinch bugs gravitate towards hot spot so making sure your irrigation is working properly and efficiently is a must.
Keeping chinch bugs under control is a challenge. But with early detection and proper care you can win the battle.