Troup extension agent: Summer ramblings — Bugs, armadillos and overwatering

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 15, 2016

We are now in the doldrums of summer, hot dry weather with sporadic thunder showers. Some areas of the county are blessed with rain and others are blessed with armadillos.

If you spot Japanese beetles cruising around the backyard you will without a doubt are going to have visitors named armadillos. Japanese beetles seem to be attracted to roses and muscadine grapes. They can quickly defoliate plants, so control is necessary or they will be laying eggs in your lawns and you’ll have more next year.

Picking them off individually and placing them in a soapy water is an easy method. Spraying a soapy water solution on them may be effective as well. There are very effective pesticides both organic and inorganic that control them.

Be careful to protect pollinators by spraying after 7 p.m.

This brings us to the armadillo problem. As the white grubs in the soil get active, the armadillos make their appearance. The larvae of the Japanese beetle are a prime food source for this pest.

You can tell if the grubs are feeding if the grass pulls up easy without roots. The grubs are feeding on the roots.

Applying a soil insecticide is an easy fix if your lawn isn’t large. They are available at our local garden centers.

Some folks prefer trapping. If you trap, it’s not a catch and release proposition. It is against the law to release trapped wildlife on someone else’s property.

Female armadillos produce identical quadruplets. You can trap them for a while but new families will move into the empty niche created by trapping. You cannot win against that scenario so the best bet is to remove their food source.

Overwatering lawns can be just as much as a problem as not watering the lawns. Turning on the sprinkler system in the middle of the day is wasting 70 percent of the water.

It’s like pouring 3 and 1/2 gallons of water out of a 5 gallon bucket down the drain. Water early in the mornings so the plants can dry out.

You need only one inch to 1.5 inches of water per week. Place pie plates under your sprinkler system, set the timer and see how long it takes to get 1.5 inches of water. Overwatering encourages diseases not only on lawns but on ornamentals.

When the humidity gets high, unwelcome visitors often appear in well houses, crawl spaces, garages, basements and other storage areas.

Camel crickets, or cave crickets as they are also known, love these areas. They like to eat and leave their calling cards everywhere.

The best way to control them is to prevent them from entering. Caulk around any openings around pipes, doors, soffits, dryer vents, etc.

Improve airflow by stacking boxes off the floor and away for exterior walls. Reduce moisture in the crawl space by placing plastic on the exposed soil.

Make sure the vents are working properly. Keep mulch away from the walls by at least 12 inches and place stone or gravel instead. Also reduce clutter from around decks and buildings that will attract the crickets. Never stack firewood against the house. Use weather stripping under garage doors and floor sweeps on doors to keep the critters out.

Running out of time to sign up for the upcoming Master Gardener program

Troup County Extension is hosting the Master Gardener Extension Volunteer Program starting Aug. 9.

If you wish to hone your skills in horticulture and related subjects this might be the program for you. We have a variety of topics lined up and taught by excellent instructors.

We will cover a wide range of topics: botany, entomology, soils, plant nutrition, insect control, vegetables, herbs, plant propagation, planting and maintaining ornamentals, troubleshooting, pollinators, turf, trees and much more. If you have your Tuesdays and Thursdays available and are willing to help out UGA Extension, send an email or call the office for more information.

Please apply as soon as possible. We need at least 10 to sign up.

What’s going on in Extension?

Master Gardener Extension Volunteer class will begin Aug. 9 and run through Oct. 20. The cost is $150. Call or stop by the Extension office for an application.

Georgia Master Cattleman Program starting Sept. 6. Call for more information.

Beekeepers meeting: Monday, July 18, at the Ag Center at 7 p.m.

Market on Main: Every Saturday morning from 8 to 10 a.m. Come by and enjoy the pick of the day. Carmike Cinemas LaGrange 10 parking lot at Main and E. Depot streets.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.

By Brian Maddy

Contributing columnist

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 114 Church St. in LaGrange and may be reached at 706-883-1675, Monday–Friday 8 a.m.–noon and 15 p.m.