One of the positive benefits of all the rain from June and July is the suppression of some of our normal problem insects. Sadly, as the deluges have come to a halt, it means certain insects are going to seemingly blow up in population numbers. Are you prepared?
In fact, you name it, and it will probably seem like a major infestation has hit us apparently overnight. Off the top of my head, and just for starters, I can think of these major hits we're going to experience:
Mosquitoes - All we need is two days of drier conditions following excessively wet conditions and mosquito populations will definitely increase. We are scheduled to have Dr. Rudy Bueno, from Harris County Mosquito Control on as a guest this Saturday. If you have some specific questions for him, please be tuned in to the GardenLine Radio Program this Saturday. In the meantime, here's a link to an often used tip sheet from our website regarding mosquito controls at home. One of the newest forms of control not mentioned in the tip sheet (written a few years ago) is the use of garlic oils as mosquito barriers. While I agree in the concept of garlic as an organic approach, you must be able to handle the smell of garlic for a day or two following the application - just so that you have been forewarned.
Fire Ants - I made mention on last weekend's radio show that once we get a reasonably dry week, it may seem as though fire ant mounds just appear from nowhere and in ridiculously large numbers. They have been there all along, just underground somewhat during the excessive rains. They too only need a couple of days of dry conditions to go on a building spree. The best way to control fire ants in your landscape is still via the "Texas Two Step," and to read more about all the controls I recommend for the "Two Step" here, and to link to anything and everything on fire ant control form Texas A&M, please click on our fire ant tip sheet from the website.
Chinch Bugs - I have to come clean a little bit here. I answered an email during this past weekend's radio program, adamantly telling the listener, that there way "no way on God's green earth, that chinch bugs could be active with all this rain." First, let me warn you that in all this heat and humidity it too will only take a week of dry conditions for chinch bugs to get active, but I'll be damned if I didn't see an infestation in Neighbor Steve's backyard. So, I sort of stand corrected on the possibility of chinch bugs despite the rain. So, to determine if chinch bugs are what are causing your problems, (see if you detect a theme here) please connect to our tip sheet on chinch bug control at the GardenLine webpage.
Mealy Bugs - Last year, mealy bugs were the bane of many gardeners' existence in the Houston area. They were infesting plants that seemingly never had insect problems, proving how bad their problem was last year. This summer the cooler temperatures and prodigious rains have kept mealy bug populations well under control, but I can only imagine how bad they will blow up in population numbers with a warm, humid and dry week. Here's a link to last year's story on mealy bug control from our Archives of Past Email Tips. Plus, here's a link to the homemade organic insect control designed for Scale, but at works on bugs as well.
Scale - speaking of scale, and the homemade organic control we just linked you to, please note that if organics is a secondary concern, Malathion is still beat-all, end-all answer to controlling scale on most evergreen plants. Here's the link to the Scale tip sheet we wrote last year.
Lace Bugs - The last insect I'm going to write about today, but certainly not the last that could be a problem, are lace bugs. Usually by this time of the year, lace bugs are a serious problem for Lantana, Azaleas and a whole host of Trees. Since the rains have kept lace bugs at an arms length this summer, here's you're best opportunity to prevent them from being a problem for the remainder of the summer and early fall. Get out today, and spray them down with a systemic insecticide, and do it again in 30 days. When it comes to trees, however, you might think of calling a professional tree service to spray bigger trees that you likely cannot reach. The systemics that are readily available are Imidicloprid (Merit) Disyston, Acephate and Cygon. To get a better handle on lace bug control in general here's a link to a lace bug tip sheet from a couple of years ago.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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