If you are keen on looking after the environment and not using potentially harmful and hazardous chemicals on your flowers, plants and vegetables then there are a range of organic pest control methods that you can utilise to help deal with common pests that can invade your garden.
The first step to organic pest control is to ensure your garden and plants are healthy and have ideal growing conditions. This will include ensuring there is adequate water, minimal weeds, regular fertilising and sufficient amounts of shade and sun for the plants particular needs.
A rich and organic soil maintains the PH balance encouraging the growth of healthy plants and vegetables. A poor and nutrient deprived soil will hamper the plants growth and will increase the production of carbohydrates which insects thrive on. To increase soil health, add compost and fertilisers to restore nutrients to the soil and plants.
Plants that are stressed or are over or under watered will encourage disease and pests to attack them. Regularly monitoring the state of your plants will help determine any problems before pest populations begin to multiply.
BEATING PESTS NATURALLY
There are a variety of Organic pest control methods to help treat and prevent pest infestations and attacks once you notice that you have a problem. These include:
A rigid material of a particular colour (yellow, white or blue) that is coated with a sticky substance that is hung close the plant height. The trap will catch insects and bugs that are attracted to the colour. You will then be able to determine what pests are in your garden and the extent of their numbers. Sticky traps can be made at home or purchased from a garden supplier.
Barriers – create a physical barrier between the pest and the plant such as a thin netting over the plants that is secured firmly to the ground, so the pests cannot attack the plants.
Products & Sprays
There are a variety of organic sprays available to combat common pests. These are available at your local nursery or retailer and include:
Home Made Remedies
If you want to opt for the cheaper DIY method, there are a variety of home made remedies that can be made up using a mixture of common household items – some of these include.
ATTRACT GOOD BUGS TO YOUR GARDEN TO COMBAT THE BAD ONES
The type of flowers and plants you have in your garden can go along way in the prevention of pest attacks.
Instead of choosing plants according to aesthetical beauty or smell, consider planting a range of flowers and herbs that have an abundance of pollen and nectar. This will attract pollinators and other beneficial insects into your garden, which will in turn help to rid you of other troublesome and unwanted pests.
So what ever form or extent you like to take it, there are a wide range of organic pest control methods that you do yourself, or you can purchase that are natural and greener choice for the environment.
And, of course, if you want some additional help and advice on organic gardening or pest control Fox Mowing can look after it all for you. And while we’re there in your garden, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
Spodoptera mauriti, Also Known As “The Lawn Armyworm”
Armyworms are lawn-eating caterpillars and are a common pest throughout Australia. They attack any type of turf, but they particularly like to infest lush and healthy lawns. Armyworms are a seasonal pest preferring warm, humid weather and can often attack your lawn several times during each summer or autumn. They’re surface-dwelling grubs that’ll eat their way through the grass leaves and then move on to the stems. Once they use up all of their food supply or become too overcrowded in a particular area they will “march” and move onto another area of grass in search of food. This “marching” behaviour to find food is from where we get the name “Armyworm”.
Lifecycle & Growth Stages
The adult moth, Spodoptera mauitia, is small, with a wingspan of up to 40mm. They come in a variety of colours and mottled patterns on their wings ranging from white, grey and brown.
It’s extremely widespread, from the Red Sea region of the Middle East, all across Southern Asia, Australia and into the Pacific region as far as Hawaii.
The general life cycle of an armyworm is approximately 30 to 40 days and consists of the stages of egg, larva / caterpillar, pupa and adult. The process begins with the adult moth flying and landing on your lawn and then laying batches of eggs under the grass leaves. The eggs are laid and glued together in masses. Each mass or batch contains hundreds of eggs. Multiple batches can be laid within one night. Depending on the weather, these eggs can then take 6 to 10 days to hatch.
Once hatched the young larvae are approximately 2 to 3mm in length. They produce fine, silken threads that act like paragliders. The wind picks up the larvae and disperses them up to a few metres away for the egg-laying site. The larvae are green, smooth and hairless and curl up when touched or disturbed. By then time they grow to around 10mm in length, they can be easily distinguished from other caterpillars by three prominent white or cream stripes running the length of their back.
When they are fully-grown, the mature caterpillars are 30 to 40mm in length and their colour darkens to a grey-brown. The caterpillars spend their days curled up under the soil or leaf blades before actively crawling around at night time to feed.
When they reach maturity the larvae burrow into the soil below the grass where they pupate in a loosely formed cocoon of dirt and plant material for around 5 to 10 days. Then they hatch and turn into fully-fledged adult moths. The adults can lay eggs within 24 hours of hatching from a pupa therefore continuing the cycle and spreading the infestation further throughout your lawn.
Signs that You Have Armyworm
Armyworm can be difficult to detect as they spend their days hiding under the surface of the lawn so you might not be aware that you actually have a problem until you start to notice damage to your grass.
If you have armyworm you will likely see patches of lawn where the lawn is shorter or thinner – as if it had been recently cut. There could also be browning of the grass in different areas that are gradually but continually increasing in size. There might also be evidence of something chomping on the grass or the grass runners. Any of these signs might indicate an infestation of armyworm.
If you are unsure if you have them the easiest thing is to go out at night when they are out and about actively feeding & running riot all over your lawn. If you see moths flying around in the air this could be a sign that your lawn could be affected. Inspect the lawn up close with a bright torch. Look in the areas where the damage has occurred as well as in the surrounding healthy grass. If the armyworms have already eaten all the grass in the affected area they will be on the move looking for newer areas to infiltrate and feed on, in which case you’ll see the “marching” behaviour. You can also try turning on the hose and soaking the ground with water for a couple of minutes. If you have them then soaking will at lease flush the caterpillars out of the grass into the open so you can examine them more closely and identify them.
Due to their quick growth, and ability to lay hundreds of eggs in one sitting, armyworms can cause huge damage and desolation to your lawn in a short amount of time.
To get rid of armyworms you can use a broad-spectrum insecticide that works generally against lawn grubs. This is best applied just before nightfall so that the worms will ingest the insecticide when they come out to feed. You will have to check regularly to see if they have come back, because armyworms are not afraid of “double dipping” again and again into your lawn in the same year particularly if your lawn is still relatively healthy.
After applying treatment for armyworm keep your lawn healthy by following good lawn care practises and apply a fertiliser to help in the recovery of the damaged areas of your lawn.
Identifying and treating an armyworm infestation is, in principle, simple, but can get complicated if you can’t find the right insecticide, if you’re prone to forgetting or simply if you’re just too busy. You might like to consider using Fox Mowing and Gardening to help you give those army worms their permanent marching orders! And while we’re there keeping the nasties at bay, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
The most common grubs that you will encounter in the garden will be the larvae of various beetles such as scarabs and cockchafer beetles. These will be a white colour and will be curled over forming a ‘C’ shape.
These grubs are most active during mid spring to mid summer, and can cause severe damage to lawns, gardens and potted plants. While they are small and seem harmless these grubs attack your plants and vegetables roots, feeding off them as they grow.
If your garden is well lit at night the problem can worsen as the adult beetles will be attracted to the light and will come out and start laying eggs.
If you are unsure if you have a grub problem then you need to dig around and till the soil. If you have grubs, you will generally come to the surface and you will then be able to pick them up and remove them from the garden.
If lawns are affected by grubs the grass will turn yellow and brown and die, you will then be able to lift and roll the turf back like a carpet.
An application of a garden & lawn insecticide can be applied to soil to help control and rid your garden of the pest.
And, of course, if you want some additional help controlling problem pests, then the simplest solution is to let Fox Mowing look after it all for you.
And while we’re there in your garden, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
NEMATODES (ROOT KNOT)
Nermatodes are colourless and microscopic worm like animals that exist in the soil in areas with hot climates or short winters. There are hundreds of thousands of varieties and species of Nematodes, most of which are harmless.
Root Knot Nematode however can be a big problem in the garden as they are a common summer plant parasite that attacks plant roots resulting in them yellowing, wilting & dying.
Root Knot Nematodes burrow into the plant roots, feeding off them while producing tumour like growths. These growths inhibit the plants ability to absorb water and nutrients, weakening the plant and causing a reduction in growth, productivity and an increased susceptibility to fungal infections and wilting.
Fruit and vegetables are most affected by Root Knot Nematodes with the worst damage occurring in potatoes, capsicum, tomatoes, eggplants, chilli, melons, pumpkins, bananas, cucumbers, grapes pineapples and strawberries.
The best way to combat Root Knot is by creating a rich organic soil. Do this by adding manure, compost and mulches to encourage beneficial nematodes to grow in the soil which will in turn attack the pest species. Crop rotation is recommended so that the same plants are not growing in the same soil year in year out. Another treatment is to sow mustard seed in the affected soil and grow it until it reaches around 45cm in height and then dig it in. It will slowly decompose in the ground emitting a chemical that fumigates the soil and helps to control nematodes.
And, of course, if you want some additional help and advice on ridding pests from your lawn or garden, then the simplest solution is to let Fox Mowing look after it all for you.
And while we’re there in your garden, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
LAWN PEST CONTROL
No matter how well you look after your lawn there is always the possibility of an attack from lawn pests. Of course the healthier you keep your lawn the better able it will be to withstand and recover from attacks, but like everything sometimes things just happen, There’s nothing they like to munch on better than grass!
Some pests are choosier than others. Some prefer a well-nourished and healthy lawn. Other lawn pests prefer living in lawns that are under nourished and in a poor condition. Some will only prefer certain varieties of grass. Others take whatever they can get an munch on any type of grass no matter what condition it’s in.
On account of their feeding behaviours, lawn pests can be classified into two main categories:
Surface Dwelling Grubs are commonly referred to as ‘lawn grubs’. Army worm, Sod Webworm and Cutworm are all varieties of lawn grubs that eat away at the grass leaves and stems. These grubs go through a 30-40 day life cycle. First they hatch from eggs into a larvae/grub where they feed on grass leaves before entering a pupa stage after which they emerge as adult moths.
Grubs can affect your lawn multiple times throughout one season. They love healthy lawns so even if you’ve already treated one infestation, they’ll likely return if your lawn is in a good enough condition for continued feeding. Since having an unhealthy lawn isn’t an option, you have to resort to other methods to keep them under control.
These include the larval or juvenile stages of:
As suggested by the name “root-feeding” these grubs live underground feeding on the root system of your grass and can cause a huge amount of damage to your lawn if you don’t treat them. The eggs are laid in spring or early summer, developing into larvae before pupating and emerging as an adult beetle, or in the case of the Billbug, a weevil.
The adult beetles are normally black and shiny and are approximately 15mm in length. In some instances a small infestation of Black beetle can actually be beneficial to the lawn as their underground tunnelling can act as aeration for your root system. However if you start to notice damage to your grass then this has become a “too-much-of-a-good-thing” problem and you need to act.
If your lawn is stressed and under watered or fertilised there is a much higher change of your lawn being infected by root feeding grubs than if your lawn is healthy and growing well.
SIGNS OF INFESTATION
So now that you know the different types of nasties that can plague your lawn it comes down to spotting the signs of infestation and then treating them. Detecting any changes in the appearance and growth of your lawn is the key to preventing a potentially huge amount of pest and insect damage.
Keep an eye out for:
If you are still unsure if you have a pest problem here are a few simple ways to check:
PEST CONTROL TREATMENTS
Without treatment your thick and green lawn can quickly be eaten away and turn into a brown and barren wasteland! That’s why it’s so important to get rid of them quickly, before they breed and spread further throughout your lawn.
The treatment for pests & bugs in your lawn is, at least in principle, pretty simple. All you’ll need to do is apply the correct type of lawn insecticide to the grass in the late afternoon or early evening and water it in lightly.
Root feeding grubs will require a stronger concentrate of insecticide and a deeper watering in to ensure that the mixture will be absorbed into the soil and will soak deep into the root system targeting the grubs and insects in the area. Depending on the extent of the infestation, a repeat application might be necessary to eliminate all pests. If you have extensive damage this should then be followed by a fertiliser to help repair affected areas and boost growth and general lawn health.
Lawn grubs prefer different varieties of turf over others. So a way to make your lawn less enticing to pests can be to choose a variety of lawn such as Sir Walter Buffalo or Zoysia turfs that have a good pest tolerance. Couch and Kikuyu on the other hand are more prone to pests and can suffer more extensive damage when compared to these varieties.
So check your lawn regularly for any changes in your grass, the sooner you get onto treating the problem the easier it will be to get rid of the pests in your lawn and the healthier your lawn will remain.
And, of course if you need any help or advise on identifying and treating lawn pests then the simplest solution is to let Fox Mowing look after your lawn for you. And while we’re there keeping the nasties at bay, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
The billbug is a root-feeding grub that preys upon the roots and the growing crown of the grass causing extensive damage. Although it is technically a turf grass weevil and not a true billbug the name has stuck around due to a related species that is common in the United States. The Australian billbug is originally a native of South America. Although there are over seventy species of billbug recorded throughout a variety of countries, Sphenophorus brunnipennis is the only species known to inhabit Australia & New Zealand.
But one species of billbug is bad enough for us.
Lifecycle & Growth Stages
Adult billbugs feed on the grass hollowing out the centre of the stem where they lay their eggs. The eggs then hatch into larvae approximately 2mm in length. These larvae are legless, are white or cream in colour and have brown heads.
As the larvae grow they travel up and down the grass stem, and when they are too large they come to the surface where they feed on the roots and crowns killing the stem or the entire plant. It’s during this stage that the larvae cause the most severe damage to turf grass. Billbug larvae reach maturity at between 35 to 50 days – depending on the weather and the available food supply – growing to their full length of up to 10mm long, where they’ll pupate in the thatch. Tiny adult bugs emerge 8 to 10 days later.
Mature Billbugs are dark brown or black. They look like the beetles to which they are closely related. They have a long downward pointing feeding snout, elbowed and clubbed antennae and their armour-plated body shell makes them just shy of 10mm long.
Signs that You Have Billbug
Billbugs feed upon the grass tips and the root systems of your lawn, which eventually kills off all the grass in the affected areas. Most damage occurs in lawns that are near evergreen shrubbery or in a shaded and protected area. They enjoy warmer weather so the main damage occurs through November to January. A second generation of billbug infestation can occur in February if they have sufficiently favourable weather and soil conditions.
If you have Billbugs you might notice one of the following warning signs:
Adult billbugs, and their larval grubs can cause major damage to your lawns if you don’t treat them.
It’s always preferable to kill the adult bug prior to egg laying. Young grubs in particular can be difficult to kill as they are protected within the grass stems, while older larvae hide in the root zone where it can be hard for insecticides to penetrate. You can target small larvae (up to 4mm in size) between late spring and early summer when you can find them in the thatch or the surface soil of the grass.
The best control for the adult billbug involves applying a lawn insecticide in the late afternoon when the bugs are present and active.
You will need to ensure that the lawn is well watered prior to application. This will help the insecticide to sink in and to be absorbed into the soil so that it has the best possible chance of reaching the larvae and smaller grubs which are in the root and soil area.
Once you’ve applied the treatment then you’ll need to continually check the quality and health of your turf. You’ll need to monitor the armyworms regularly in order to ensure their numbers are reducing. You’ll need to be vigilant because even if you’ve successfully removed the infestation they can easily come back. So keep an eye out and get onto the problem as soon as you see it so as to minimise any future damage.
Remember, if you keep your grass well fed, watered and cared for your lawn will be able to resist billbug attacks better than lawns that are in a poorer condition.
Identifying and treating a billbug infestation is, in principle, simple, but you need to be vigilant and persistent. If you’re prone to forgetting or simply if you’re just too busy to wage war then you might like to consider using Fox Mowing and Gardening to keep those pests out of your garden. And while we’re there, keeping the nasties at bay, we can do a lot of other stuff too to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
Fungi are microscopic like bacteria which suck the nutrients from the grass causing the grass plants to decline in health, change their appearance, weaken and in some cases die. There are a wide variety of fungal diseases that can attack your lawn, each with differing identifying characteristics. Diseases often start off in small patches of turf and gradually start to spread and grow in size infecting larger sections and causing extensive damage across your lawn.
CAUSES OF FUNGAL DISEASES
Fungi can grow in both warm or cold conditions, but what they really need to thrive is excessive moisture – humidity or dampness. However, not all grass that lives in these conditions will be affected as grass needs to be in a weakened state to make it conducive for disease development. Some of the most common factors that can weaken your lawn and make it susceptible to lawn fungal disease are:
IDENTIFYING DISEASE SYMPTOMS
The main thing to remember with treating and controlling fungal diseases is to get onto it as soon as you notice any change in the appearance of growth of your grass. If left to itself the disease will worsen and spread throughout your lawn creating an even larger and harder problem to deal with.
Some signs of fungal disease include:
TREATING FUNGAL DISEASES
Once you have seen the symptoms and confirmed that you have a fungal disease you will need to determine which of Fungal Disease you have as not all fungi can be treated in the same way.
In general an application of a broad-spectrum fungicide such as Mancozeb can be effective at helping to control and prevent the entry and spread of a variety of common fungal lawn diseases. However some types of fungal diseases such as Red Thread and root killing fungi such as Pythium and Melting Out require a specifically adapted fungicide to target these particular fungal infestations.
In most cases an application of a broad-spectrum fungicide such as Mancozeb can be used to help control and prevent the spread of a variety of common fungal lawn diseases. However some types of fungal diseases such as Red Thread and root killing fungi such as Pythium and Melting Out require a specifically adapted fungicide to target these particular fungal infestations.
An important part of treating fungal diseases is prevention. You will need to identify any problems that can weaken your lawn and make it more susceptible to disease. Problems such as insufficient moisture levels, compacted soil, thatch and scalping your lawn when mowing can all cause an increase susceptibility to disease. Information on how to fix these factors can be found in our article Preventing Fungal Diseases.
And, of course, if your unsure of what fungal disease you might have or how best to go about treating it, then the simplest solution is to let Fox Mowing look after your lawn for you. And while we’re there in your garden, to get your garden looking, and feeling, its best.
PREVENTING FUNGAL DISEASES
When a fungal disease strikes it can be disheartening to see the effect it can have on the appearance of your lawn. Fungal diseases can take on a variety of forms from patches of dead-looking brown grass to odd-coloured spots and rings that can grow in size and spread across your lawn.
Fungi infect and feed upon the nutrients in the blades, stems and roots of the grass. If your grass remains untreated or left with continued exposure to optimum fungi-germinating conditions the disease will lead to extensive damage, ultimately killing your lawn.
Climate & Grass Health
Climate conditions and fungal growth go hand in hand.
Most fungi like warmth and moisture to germinate, which is why fungal diseases are more common in the tropics and sub-tropics but fungal diseases can occur everywhere from warm, humid conditions or in cool damp environments. So if you live in climatic conditions that encourage fungi then your lawn has a high chance of being impacted by some fungal disease.
Unfortunately we can’t change the weather or the climate that we live in (unless we uproot and move to another area) but we can help to combat disease by having a healthy lawn.
The healthiness of your lawn plays a crucial, big part in its susceptibility to fungal infections. If your grass is already sick or suffering stress from wear & tear or lack of water and food then it will be liable to further sickness and disease outbreaks. On the other hand, a healthy, robust and thriving lawn that is well looked after will be better able to withstand any conditions in your area that in other cases would lead to disease growth.
As specific fungi need specific environmental conditions, the optimum level for growth and germination for fungal disease conditions might only be for a short period of time each year or season. A well-maintained and healthy lawn that is suited to particular environmental conditions will often recover on its own from short lived attacks once more favourable weather conditions for the grass – and less favourable conditions for the fungi – arise.
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