Pest Watch- December 2020

Lawns and landscape, well I covered a great deal of pests affecting us here last month in the patch and in particular what was targeting our veggie and fruit trees. And due to the onslaught of sudden summer high temperatures and lack of regular rainfall, the lawns around the place are suffering from dry patch, dehydration, weed invasion and some are being attacked by pests such as Black beetle which happen to thrive during the drier climate and lawn grubs which are hovering around and laying their egg sacks around the eaves of buildings, trees, and structures presently. I actually took a short amateur video in my back yard (I had to be quick to catch them in action) on my dwarf Washington navel tree where I came across a lawn grub nest hatching and the miniature little caterpillars were wriggling free and dropping to the ground by releasing a fine lifeline thread of webbing to aid its descent to the juicy grass below. See: and scroll down for video content.

This is an example of an army worm nest here: See the fine threads of silk and new hatched grubs abseiling towards the lawn below.

When you see these nests appear, they are mostly laid at night, best to broom them off quickly before the eggs hatch otherwise the decimation begins. It is hard enough trying to keep our lawns and gardens hydrated and weed free in these hot and humid conditions of late, so it pays to do the rounds and clear your building eves away from these moth egg sacks, or you may be disappointed later once you notice the dead patches popping up in your lawn. Fertilising should be done with caution if you have no irrigation, as the concentrated salts can dehydrate your lawn grass immediately, causing your patch to dry out further. Fungus gnats are another diabolical pest that can get into your veggie garden soil and potted plants. Their larvae feed away on the fine root hairs of plants and you may see the adults - (miniature flies), hovering en-masse above the soil media, they like the top 3 inches of moist soil to incubate. Neem-oil apparently is effective in treating potting soil infested with fungus gnat larvae, if diluted correctly and applied as a soil drench, but the label clearly mentions for use on ornamentals only, so due care is needed to ensure compliance. Update! Hail storm just wiped out my veggies, so If there were fungus gnats, they should have a head ache now! Looks like I will have more time for the beach after all.

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