Coastal and Tropical South

April, 2012
Regional Report

Stop Mosquitoes and Gnats

Whether it is the bite of a skeeter or a flurry of gnats that bugs you, get serious about reducing the conditions that nurture these pests. Keep the grass cut and the weeds pulled. If your garden is shady and irrigated regularly, consider thinning shrubs to keep conditions from staying soggy enough to suit these pests. Remove water sources and limit organic mulches to 1-2 inches deep. Wear repellent, and consider applying granular products such as one containing ground garlic, lemongrass, rosemary, and citronella, in addition to the torches and candles you light at dusk.

Fight Fire Ants

When you see their mounds, you can bet that dozens if not hundreds of drones are foraging everywhere on your property. There are all kinds of products on the market, but the overarching strategy is twofold. Use fire ant bait all over your property and treat individual mounds with a contact control. The bait slows their overall development when the foragers take it back into the mound. Baits can take weeks to work and in the meantime fire ants can multiply, not to mention sting you, your children, pets, and visitors. That is why the mound treatment with a faster acting product is advised.

Collect Ladybugs Indoors

Yes, we love ladybugs in the garden, but not so much when they cover the kitchen floor. Even worse, they crunch when you step on them and smell bad, too. Use a broom to sweep the ladies into a central location and do not miss any that have gathered around ceiling fixtures. Put a clean bag in your machine, vacuum them up, and relocate them outside. The ladybugs are simply taking advantage of available entry ways to get warm. Seal, caulk, or replace leaky windows and doors to prevent our pals from becoming pests. The good news is that by closing up the entry points for ladybugs, you exclude paper wasps, too.

Prevent Pantry Pests

Storing winter clothes in a cedar closet and keeping grains in plastic or glass canisters may not be enough to prevent common pests from damaging both. The prevention of damage from both clothes moths and cereal beetles starts with a clean place to store both. That plastic or glass jar can warm up too much on a kitchen counter, so store it in a cool, dark cupboard. Use grains and cereals within about six months. Vacuum the closet, including baseboards and walls, before retiring that good wool suit for the summer and store only clean clothes.

Take Action Against Swarming Termites

Do not ignore the cloud of tiny flying insects around your home and garden. Termites work everyday to destroy wood, and when you see them swarm, it is time to take action. Look for them outdoors, and rake out old piles of mulch. Mine had a swarm trying to get started, but they succumbed to a timely drench of pyrethrin and oil. If you see them around the house and you do not know when your house was last treated, it is probably time. Consult a professional for this service and keep the hazards to a minimum. I resolve to use up all the mulch and not leave a pile this year.

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