Tag: organic

How to Get Rid of Euonymus Scale

euonymus scale

Edward L. Manigault, Clemson University Donated Collection, Bugwood.org – See more at: http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/detail.cfm?imgnum=1225115#sthash.fE97Hbiu.dpuf
Edwar

Euonymus scale (Unaspis euonymi) is a pest that is around all year, especially on groundcover euonymus. Treatment should be done when the crawlers emerge, which is around the early part of June, although it may be a bit later this year. Male adult scales are white, and females are dark brown and are shaped like an oyster shell. Euonymus scale overwinters as a mated (pregnant) female on the plant stems. Eggs develop beneath the scale and hatch during late spring.

Hatch times coincide with the blooming of:

  • Chionanthus virginicus – White Fringe Tree
  • Crataegus crusgalli –  Cockspur Hawthorn
  • Cornus alternifolia – Alternateleaf Dogwood
  • Syringa vilrosa – Lilac
  • Catalpa speciosa

Management: Pesticides won’t help until the crawlers emerge, but if the population is heavy now, prune out the infested branches to reduce the number of scales. Then, when it is time to use an insecticide it will be more effective. Since there has been a lot of winter damage on ground cover euonymus, pruning will be required to remove the dead branches and take care of two problems at the same time.

Horticulture soap* or oil will work to kill the crawlers.

*Please remember that you can’t make horticulture soap out of today’s dish soaps. Yes, back in the day, when soap was manufactured out of fats, it could be done. However, now they are all detergents, lacking the fat factor necessary to kill the insect.

© The Naturarian

Happy Birthday Rachel Carson – Author of ‘Silent Spring’

Rachel Louise Carson, author of “Silent Spring” (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania and credits her mother for instilling her with a love for nature. In 1932, after many hard personal life problems, she graduated with a master’s degree in zoology. She taught for a few years, then in 1935, she obtained a part-time position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries as a writer of the radio show, “Romance Under the Waters”. After being the first woman to take and pass the civil service test, she was promoted to full time with a title of junior aquatic biologist.

Her writing career started in 1951 with, “The Sea Around Us”. Followed by other books titled, ”The Edge of the Sea” & “Under the Sea Wind”. She wrote multitudes of articles on topics from pesticides to ecosystems. In 1958, her work started on the famous, “Silent Spring”, which basically implied if we continue with the pesticide use (DDT), it would cause the death of songbirds, hence no singing = silence. The book was released on September 27th, 1962 with much controversy.

In 1960, after some other health ailments, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. This caused the delay in the publication of “Silent Spring”. After the book was released, many critics downed the book as being inconsistent & that research was not backed. This didn’t stop the government from banning DDT shortly after it’s release though. The pesticide industry took great measures to discredit her. Carson responded to these attacks by speaking to organizations, testifying at Congressional hearings, appearing on television, and conferring with President Kennedy and his Science Advisory Committee. In letters, she continued to defend her life’s work and urge that man use restraint and knowledge in his treatment of the environment.

Rachel Carson also started many influential, grassroots environmental movements, giving the start of the Environmental Protection Agency. She won many awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her research was the vehicle for the banning of DDT worldwide, though again, is still debated today.

She died of breast cancer at the age of 56. Way too young for such a defender of the universe!!

© The Naturarian

 

Are My Plants on Crack? Powdery Mildew on Plants

mildew grape leaf.JPG
On grape leaf – Credit: David B. Langston

There are many species of fungus that cause powdery mildew on plants. Most only infect the leaf surface or stems and do not attack the leaf tissue of the host plant. Powdery mildew is not usually a serious problem, but to avoid severe damage to plants, quick control methods need to be taken.

Symptoms of powdery mildew:

Powdery mildews are observed in late spring and early summer as a white or gray powdery growth on leaves, stems, flowers, and fruit. As the fungus developments, buds fail to open, leaves can become distorted, turn yellow, brown or become chlorotic, or may drop prematurely. Fruits may develop blemishes or abort early.

white mildew on peony leaves
Powdery mildew on peony

Powdery mildew grows predominantly on leaf surfaces and does not require water to infect the plant. Powdery mildew fungi overwinter in tiny black bodies called fungal threads, which can be found in leaf litter, twigs, and dormant buds. In Spring, the fungal threads produce spores that start the cycle, especially during periods of high humidity when days are warm and nights are cool, ideal temperatures range between 60F to 80F. Vulnerable plants are most susceptible while new shoots and leaves are expanding. Fungus is host specific, meaning the powdery mildew on phlox does not infect crabapples.

 

How to manage the mildew!

Cultural

Many powdery mildews, especially those that attack woody plants, are more unsightly than destructive. Good sanitation is highly important to reduce infections the next season. Powdery mildews can hibernate through the winter on dead and living plant tissue.

  • Be proactive and purchase disease resistant plants.
  • Space the plants properly, in-well drained soils where plants receive good air circulation.
  • Dispose of diseased leaves as soon as they drop.
  • Do not compost or use as mulch.
  • Always avoid working among plants with wet foliage. Stay inside on rainy days!

Chemical

Since most powdery mildew symptoms occur late in the growing season, it is usually not considered serious enough to justify chemical control. However, some plants may warrant protection and successful chemical control requires applying a fungicide properly and at the right time. Fungicides are a prophylactic, meaning it has to be sprayed on the plant before the infection occurs. Depending on what species or part of the plant (leaves, flower or fruit) you are trying to protect, spray times may be different.

One of my favorite, efficient fungicides to use is the Bordeaux mixture. In the early 19th century, many of the European grape vines were infected with blight caused by the aphid Phylloxera vastatrix (argued to have come from American grapes), but also mildew and other diseases caused by fungi.

In 1885, botany professor Pierre-Marie-Alexis Millardet of the University of Bordeaux studied powdery mildew in the vineyards of the Bordeaux region. He noticed the vines sprayed with copper and lime to keep nibblers away along the roads showed no signs of the disease. To this day, his solution is widely used in vineyards.

© The Naturarian

Why Native Plants Rock – Part 3 of 4

far side comic of a dog mwing the lawn badly
Credit: The Far Side – If my husband could teach our dogs to mow the lawn, he’d be a happy man!

America’s fascination with green lawns has brought the total crop area to 40.5 million acres, and cost Americans a total of about $30 billion last year. Kentucky Bluegrass – Poa pratensis, the most common lawn grass used in this area has a root system of approximately 1” – 2” at best. Because of the shorter root zone, and non-native status, a Bluegrass lawn requires more water, nutrients, and maintenance. Some of the statistics reported by The National Wildlife Association regarding typical lawns in the United States are:

  • 30% of water used on the East Coast goes to watering lawns; 60% on the West Coast.
  • 18% of municipal solid waste is composed of yard waste.
  • The average suburban lawn received 10 times as much chemical pesticide per acre as farmland.
  • Over 70 million tons of fertilizers and pesticides are applied to residential lawns and gardens annually.
  • Per hour of operation, a gas lawn mower emits 10-12 times as much hydrocarbon as a typical auto. A weed-whip emits 21 times more and a leaf blower 34 times more.
  • Where pesticides are used, 60 – 90% of native earthworms are killed. Earthworms are important for soil health.

These statistics address the environmental argument for lawn alternatives, but there are the time and money factors to figure in also.

The other problem for most homeowners to wrap their mind around is the difference between cool season grasses and warm season grasses. Warm or cool season refers to when the lawn is growing, i.e. a cool season grass grows when it is cool (spring / fall), a warm when warm (summer). Kentucky Bluegrass (a cool season grass) is green and needs little water or nutrients during the spring or fall months, but needs constant mowing. However, during the hot, summer months, cool season grasses go dormant, often turning yellow and crispy. This is usually a problem for Joe Homeowner that expects the lawn to be green all year. This is also the time of year (June – August) that most water is wasted (and overuse of nutrients) by desperate homeowners thinking their grass is dieing. Educating the public about the seasonal nature of Bluegrass (going dormant) could possibly reduce water waste, but peer pressure and the persona of the “Perfect Green Lawn” will most likely win out, for now…

buffalo grass
Buffalo Grass

Many lawn alternatives arguably look just like a lawn. Buchloe dactyloides, commonly known as Buffalo Grass, is one of the only perennial, native grasses that can be found from Montana to Mexico. It is a stolaniferous, very drought tolerant, varieties can be from 2” – 8”, and if left unmowed, will have attractive seed heads. Choice of variety (and personal preference) will be the factor of how often the lawn will need to be mowed, but 2X a month is about average. It is a warm season grass, opposed to the Bluegrass, so it is slow to start growing in the spring, but will be green during the warmer months without (or very little) added water or nutrients (compost).

white clover instead of lawn
White clover

Another alternative to the standard lawn is Clover, which, from a distance can look like a lawn, but not close up. Though there are many, non-native Clovers to choose from, Trifolium repens, or White Clover is the only native of Illinois. Clovers are in the Bean family (Fabaceae), which have a unique ability to recondition the soil by returning nitrogen to it (called: nitrogen fixation). Farmers often rotate Clover seasonally into their fields to prevent weeds, reduce compaction (because of the deep root system), and to restore nitrogen levels to the soil.

Although Clover does not look like a traditional lawn, it will act much like one without all the hassles. Clover is very low maintenance, and stays green with little water and no mowing (unless wanted). Fertilizers are unnecessary, as Clover provides it’s own nutrients to itself by nitrogen fixation. The real benefit for Lake County residents is that it grows well in the hard, clay soils and will better the soil in the process. Another advantage for dog owners, it does not yellow from urine. The cost of a Clover lawn is inexpensive, at about $4 to cover a 4000 square foot area. Durability is the only downside to clover, as it can handle foot traffic, but not hard-core activities.

creeping thyme groundcover inbetween flgstone steppers
Thymus praecox – Creeping Thyme

A compromise option is a half Clover, half Buffalo Grass (or Bluegrass) lawn that will be able to handle the stresses of an active family. Sadly, society may look down at the combination, as it looks as though weeds are overtaking the lawn, especially in the spring when the Clover flowers (beautifully). A back yard may be a better location for this type of arrangement for someone trying to break the ‘bluegrass lawn mode’.

There are many alternatives to lawns (groundcovers) people can use that have their own special characteristics. Thymus praecox, commonly known as Creeping Thyme is an Illinois native that blooms shortly in the spring with light pink flowers. A solution for those shady, moist, hard to grow areas is Thuidium delicatulum, commonly known as Fern Moss, also a native to our area. Both can take a small amount of foot traffic, and most often are used in between stepping stones or rock type paths.

Come back tomorrow for the last part of the Native Plant series.

© The Naturarian

Study Guide for the Illinois Pesticide Exam

A few landscaping cohorts requested my study notes from when I took the Illinois Pesticide License test. These notes specifically address pesticide formulas and mixtures, something I thought the study guides lacked in. Although I did buy the study guides (available in the links below), I always look for additional (FREE) information online. I feel there was a shortage of good information that wasn’t just repeating what the guide said. The notes I made below are to be used like flash cards. You will need to know the information ahead of time, these notes just reinforce the already learned information.

Remember!! Even if you’re organic, you’re required to be pesticide licensed in your respective state.

The University of Illinois Pesticide Safety Education Program is the site to visit for all of the information required to get licensed.

Click here for the Illinois State Study courses from the Illinois Extension – Courses

Click here for a printable .pdf version of the notes below – Pesticide Test Notes

PESTICIDE FORMULAS

DRY FORMULAS

SP = SOLUBLE POWDERS – Agitate to form a solution. Not many available as many don’t dissolve in H2O.

WP = WETABLE POWDERS – Contains wetting/dispersion agents + strong agitation form a suspension. Abrasive to pumps. Anti-foam adjuvants may help.

DF & WDG = DRY FLOWABLES & WATER-DISPERSIBLE GRANUALS – Formulated into a granule instead of a powder. Forms a suspension requiring strong agitation. Abrasive to pumps.

G = GRANULES – Applied directly. Most often used for soil treatment. H2O may need to be applied for activation.

P or PS = PELLETS – Usually larger than granules & more uniform in shape. Rat/insect baits.

D = DUSTS – Low % of active ingredient. Carrier of talc/clay/chalk. Apply directly. Watch for drift.

WET FORMULAS

E & EC = EMULSIFIABLE CONCENTRATES – Active ingredient in oil & w/mild agitation forms an emulsion mixture. Not abrasive to pumps, but may harm rubber or paint. Hazardous as drift & dermaly as it’s easily absorbed. Anti-foam adjuvants may help.

M & ME = MICRO-ENCAPSULATED – Active ingredient in plastic coated capsule suspended in liquid. Time-released & long residual activity. Constant agitation. Careful around beehives.

F & FL & L = FLOWABLES OR LIQUIDS – (Pre-suspended WP’s) Less inhalation hazard. Forms a suspension requiring moderate agitation. Abrasive to pumps.

S = SOLUTIONS – A true solution. No agitation, residue or abrasion.

OTHER

A = AEROSOLS – Low % of active ingredients & ready to use. Under pressure.

B = POISON BAITS – Active ingredient mixed w/food or H2O. Usually in a bait box, for safety.

FUMIGANTS – Produce gas from a liquid. Need special license.

ADJUVANTS = A chemical that modifies or enhances a pesticide’s properties. NOT regulated, be careful.

DRIFT REDUCTION ADDITIVES = Increases droplet size to reduce drift.

STICKERS = Increases adherence of chemical increasing persistence.

SURFACTANT = “Surface-active agents” reduces the surface tension in H2O. Use on waxy or hairy leaves.

PENETRANTS = Oil (petroleum or veggie) that aids penetration of foliage.

BUFFERING AGENTS = Balances pH of carrier to keep pesticides active.

COMPATIBILITY AGENTS = Allows effective mixing of 2 or more pesticides or w/fertilizer.

ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS = Reduces foam in EC or WP formulas.

 

PESTICIDE MIXTURES

CHEMICAL INCOMPATIBILITY = An unnoticeable reaction of mixed pesticides, noticed when things go bad.

ANTAGONISM = Decreased activity. Never desirable.

SYNERGISM = Increased activity. Can be used to your advantage.

PHYSICAL INCOMPATIBILITY = Caused by improper mixing, inadequate agitations, lack of stable emulsifiers, or hard H2O.

 

TANK MIXTURES
Label should have mixing order, but if not:

CARRIER – Fill tank ¼ to ½ full.
COMPATIBILITY, BUFFERING, or ANTI-FOAMING AGENTS.
DRIFT REDUCTION ADDITIVE – READ LABEL – May need to be added early or late in mix.
WETABLE POWDERS
DRY FLOWABLES & WATER-DISPERABLE GRANULES
FLOWABLE & MICRO-ENCAPSULATED
EMULSIFIABLE CONCENTRATES
SOLUTIONS
SOLUBLE POWDERS
SPRAY MODIFIERS – PENETRANTS & SURFACTANTS – Pre-slurry if using dry ingredients.
CARRIER – Fill tank to desired level.

**Agitate mixture throughout mixing process & application.

TIMING OF APPLICATION

EPP = EARLY PRE-PLANT – Applied several weeks B/4 a crop is planted.

PPI = PRE-PLANT INCORPORATION – Applied prior to planting, worked into soil.

PrE = PRE-EMERGENCE – Applied during or soon after planting, but B/4 weeds emerge.

PoE = POST-EMERGENCE – Applied to foliage.

© The Naturarian