Pest Control News

Pest Control News
Pest Control News
George Richardson, Technical Director

Here is the latest Pest Control News from Peninsular Pest Control for Jacksonville, FL and the surrounding area:

Problems with Sandy Soil

Newly Built Homes with Lawn Issues

Have you just moved into a newly built home and your grass is not looking as good as it should?   There is a reason.

New subdivisions are often created on top of existing sandy soil.  If no topsoil is added to the ground before the sod is installed, the grass will not thrive.  We all know grass needs nutrients to grow …but a healthy soil profile containing rich, organic matter is equally important. Just adding fertilizer to the lawn will not help… unless there is healthy soil below.

Soils that are gray or sandy colored generally contain less organic matter and you need to add topsoil. 

Top Dressing
Top Dressing will add nutrients to the sandy soil.

Don’t add too much at one time, make sure you can still see grass blades through the soil. This process is called top dressing and needs to be done every 3 to six months… until you see results.

Once your new turf is established, give us a call and we will gladly come out and recommend a lawn care program for you.

Erin Harlow, Horticulture Agent III at Columbia County Extension Office, wrote an article in the November/December 2021 issue of Pest Pro Magazine that addresses Florida soil and the amendments that can be made to improve the plant nutrition uptake.

Pest Pro Magazine image

Read the full article in Pest Pro Magazine.

Soils in Your Landscape

Soil is rarely uniform throughout a landscape. To understand the soil on your accounts, you should understand the common soil texture in your area, the amount of organic matter in the soil, the soil compaction or bulk density, and how all of these factors may influence the health of plants.

Soil is divided into three categories depending on the size of the particle: sand, silt or clay. The percentage of each in your soil will determine what type of soil is on your site. The composition of the soil also influences factors such as water retention and how it moves in your landscape.

Most Florida soil is sand, but the panhandle of Florida has more clay layers. The larger the particle size, the larger the pore space, which means that water can flow through these spaces faster. For your plants, this means that water may move out of the root zone quickly, requiring more supplemental irrigation.

Florida soils tend to have low organic matter — less than 4 percent. Organic matter plays a huge role in soil health. Improving the amount of organic matter in your soil can increase the potential for nutrient uptake by your plants (cation exchange capacity), increase the porosity of the soil, provide food for microbes, bind pollutants, and reduce compaction. Most labs that test for soil nutrients can test for organic matter, including the University of Florida Extension Soil Testing Laboratory Soil compaction is another factor that can influence plant health.

New Florida Homeowner?

Know this before buying a home in Florida

Caribbean Root Weevils

According the The University of Florida IFAS, this root weevil which is native to the Caribbean was first reported in Florida in 1964 from a nursery near Apopka. It was presumably introduced in an ornamental plant shipment from Puerto Rico. Since 1964, Diaprepes abbreviatus or Root Weevil, has spread over a large area of central and southern Florida where it is damaging to citrus, ornamental plants, and some other crops. It is estimated that Diaprepes abbreviatus causes about 70 million dollars in damage annually in Florida. Estimates show the weevil infests more than 100,000 acres of citrus.

Weevil
Jacksonville, FL Weevil, spotted on November 11, 2021

These adult Florida weevils vary in length from 0.95 to 1.90 cm (3/8 to 3/4 inch). They are black, and overlaid by minute white, red orange, and/or yellow scales on the elytra (wing covers). These scales are often rubbed off of the tops of ridges on the elytra giving the appearance of black stripes on a light colored background. Adults emerging from pupae in the soil are armed with a pair of deciduous mandibles which break off as they tunnel through the soil to get above ground. Scars at the site where the deciduous mandibles break off are visible under a microscope.

Life Cycle of the Caribbean Root Weevil

A single Diaprepes abbreviatus female can lay up to 5,000 eggs in her three to four month long life. Eggs are laid in clusters of 30 to 265 and enclosed within leaves that have been folded and glued together, or within two leaves glued together. In seven to eight days the neonate larvae emerge from eggs, leave the cluster and fall off of the leaves onto the ground. The larvae then enter the soil and search for and feed on the roots. After feeding for several months, the mature larvae pupate in the soil. Adults emerge from the soil, seek a host and mate as conspecifics gather on the host. The complete life cycle varies in time depending on nutritional and environmental factors.

Although adults can emerge year round, their primary emergence period is May through October and November in central Florida. It is suspected that their seasonality in South Florida is quite different because of the similarity with the Caribbean, where it can be found throughout the year.

Adults do not fly far from the spot where they emerged from the soil (estimated to be less than 300 m). Therefore, long distance dispersal is through the movement of contaminated soil and containerized plants containing potentially all life stages of the weevil. In addition, soil residues on vehicles may be contaminated with larvae.

Adults do not fly far from the spot where they emerged from the soil (estimated to be less than 300 m). Therefore, long distance dispersal is through the movement of contaminated soil and containerized plants containing potentially all life stages of the weevil. In addition, soil residues on vehicles may be contaminated with larvae.

Damage Caused

Notching along the margins of young leaves is a telltale symptom of the presence of Diaprepes abbreviatus adults, or other related root weevils. However, other pests such as grasshoppers and caterpillars may produce similar damage. Therefore, it is best to look for a sign, such as the pest doing the damage. Look for Diaprepes abbreviatus adults during the day on the foliage. Shaking the plant may aid in detection as adults fall off of the plant onto the ground. A light colored piece of canvas placed beneath the plant before shaking is useful. Do not look immediately after a heavy rain, which usually knocks weevils off of the plant.

Learn more about insects that can damage your landscape under our LAWN CARE tab.

Thanks Neighbor!

The Critter Gitter is Loved by locals

The votes are in: neighbors voted you a 2021 Neighborhood Favorite. As the only local business awards voted on by neighbors, we’re happy to help your community officially recognize you as one of the best around.

Peninsular Pest Control is a NextDoor Favorite
Peninsular is recognized again!

Being a Neighborhood Favorite sets you up for success on Nextdoor by boosting neighbors’ trust in your business and the visibility you have on Nextdoor. 

https://nextdoor.com/pages/peninsular-pest-control-service-inc-jacksonville-fl/

What’s eating my lawn?

Rich Jones, Host of WOKV’s Morning Show, asks the question and George Richardson responds. George Richardson, Technical Director for Peninsular Pest Control, shows you how to determine if you have chinch bugs or mole crickets in your lawn.

Bold City Best Winner AGAIN in 2021

Peninsular Pest Control won FIRST PLACE in two categories of the 2021 Bold City Best Contest. This makes the 7th consecutive year in a row that Peninsular has placed first in these two categories: BEST PEST CONTROL and BEST LAWN SERVICE.

BOLD CITY BEST is “The Official Community Choice Awards” contest held in Jacksonville, Florida, each year. The 2021 contest consisted of two phases of voting. The winners had to be nominated to make it to the finals and only one company out of the three finalist is able to claim the title of BOLD CITY BEST.

2021 Bold City Best Logo Winner Color

There were an overall 132 winners in a wide range of categories:

  • BEAUTY & HEALTH
  • DINING
  • ENTERTAINMENT & LEISURE
  • HOME, HOME SERVICES & FINANCE
  • KIDS & EDUCATION
  • PEOPLE & PLACES
  • SERVICES
  • SHOPPING
  • SPIRITS
  • VEHICLES, DEALERS & SERVICES

Peninsular Pest Control won their two awards in the “Services” category.

Thanks to all of our loyal customers for taking time to vote!

Carpenter Ant Nest AFTER Treatment

Carpenter Ant Nests are often hard to find but, once treated, all of the member of the colony will be disrupted and eventually die. Watch this video of a treated nest found in a rotten fence post. You will see the winged reproductives as well as adult ants carrying pupae.

Carpenter ants are one of the most common indoor insect pests. According to The University of Florida IFAS/Extension, carpenter ants will nest in wood structures and can be found nesting throughout a homeowner’s home in wooden support pillars, window frames, and in attics. 

Homeowners often see these ants foraging inside their home at night. An experienced pest management professional, or a determined homeowner, can usually follow a trail of ants back to the ants’ nesting site and treat it. Carpenter ant complaints are numerous during the spring swarm season, usually between April and June, when winged reproductives are often found in homes, mainly along window ledges and near sliding glass doors.

Carpenter Ants AFTER Treatment
Carpenter Ants nesting in a rotten fence post

Florida carpenter ants seek either existing voids in which to nest or excavate only soft materials such as rotten or pithy wood and Styrofoam. The main nests for the black carpenter ant are usually found outside, with satellite nests found indoors within voids or under insulation. Carpenter ants are primarily nocturnal in their foraging behavior. Carpenter ants do not sting but they do bite and can spray formic acid into the fresh wound if the ant is not removed quickly.

The ants form very loosely defined trails, or individual ants wander alone. These ants have a fondness for sweets and can be found in campgrounds near soda machines and other areas where sweets are readily accessible. Similarly, they are fond of sweet floral nectars and honeydews produced by sucking insects, especially aphids, scales and mealybugs. 

Chinch Bug Video

Rich Jones from Jacksonville, FL, and The WOKV Morning Show will explain more in the Chinch Bug Video.

Chinch Bug Video
Rich Jones on Chinch Bugs

Early Chinch bug treatment in Jacksonville FL is important because these destructive insects affect all types of turf grasses and are extremely devastating. They can take out an entire lawn in a week.

Test for Chinch Bug

To test your lawn for chinch bugs, simply rake your fingers across the dead grass onto a white paper (or your driveway) and you will see them, if they are present.

These bugs naturally exist in our environment and there are some natural diseases that will keep them at bay. They prefer the moist grass but when the grass dries out, these natural diseases go away and the chinch bug population spikes.

Homeowners sometimes mistake Chinch Bugs for Mole Crickets so visit our Mole Cricket page to see the difference in our Chinch Bug Video. Treatment for Chinch bugs is described in this Chinch Bug video below:

To you, it looks like your lawn is drying out but, watering it won’t help at this point. When it’s hot, mowing your grass too short and improper irrigation will dry your lawn out, creating the perfect environment for chinch bugs to begin their damage.

There are products that will keep the bugs from spreading but it’s important that you begin Chinch Bug Treatment just as soon as you discover them in your lawn as shown in our Chinch Bug Video.

According to the University of Florida IFAS/Extension:

Early damage appears as patchy areas of yellowing grass that rapidly browns and dies if the pest is left uncontrolled. The turf may initially appear to be drought stressed, which is a common misdiagnosis and allows damage to progress, often beyond repair. These patchily damaged areas are generally circular in shape and expand outward as the insects move from dying grass into healthier grass.

Turf in open sunny areas or under drought stress is often the first attacked and most severely damaged by southern chinch bug. This pest also prefers areas that have thick thatch layers because the thatch provides the insect with a place to feed and seek refuge from natural enemies and environmental conditions.

Peninsular Pest Control is the Largest, Family and Locally owned Pest Control and Lawn Service company in the Jacksonville area.

Spittlebugs in Florida

The adult population of Spittlebugs are beginning to appear in the Jacksonville FL area.  These colorful bugs love to munch on centipede grass and the damage is usually what causes a homeowner to notice them.

Les Harrison is the County Extension Director at the UF/IFAS Extension Wakulla County Office and he has compiled some helpful information for North Florida residents:

Spittlebugs hide themselves, deceiving the casual observer, by excreting a frothy substance from their abdomen. This insect usually passes unobserved until the damage is noticed and they are sought to account.

Spittlebugs are present throughout the entire state and are most abundant in northern and northwestern Florida. 

Their propensity to attack turfgrass species is what commonly calls attention to their presence. Centipede grass is most susceptible to their damage, and this turf is commonly under stress due to soil conditions in coastal Florida not being favorable to this popular species of grass.

Adult two-lined spittlebugs are easy to identify if seen. They are about 1/4 inch long with black bodies, red eyes and legs, and have two orange stripes across their wings.

Spittlebug insect

The mature spittlebugs are commonly active during early morning, but hide near the soil surface during the heat of the day. They are capable of a split second hop when a threatening situation is perceived.

The nymphs are yellow or creamy-white in color with a distinct brown head, but are rarely seen. They are cloaked by a mass of white frothy foam which they excrete for protection.

The foam has the appearance, at least to humans, of a projected expectoration or spittle from some uncouth trespasser. The opaque mass is not inviting and covers this insects hidden agenda.

During the nymph stage, this native pest is feeding on its plant host. Most spittle masses occur near the soil surface or in thatch making them observable, but only to those who are looking.

Some dried spittle masses may appear high on the host plant during adult’s emergence. High moisture and humid conditions favor their development and flourishing populations.

Spittlebug foam
Spittlebug foam used for protection

There are usually two to three generations per year, depending on weather conditions. The life cycle requires about two and a half months. Eggs are laid in hollow grass stems or behind the leaf sheaths. The late season eggs overwinter and hatch the following spring, typically from late March to late April.

First generation adults are most abundant in June, with the adult population peaking again in August or September.

Chinch Bugs or Mole Crickets?

How do you know whether your lawn is being damaged by mole crickets or chinch bugs? It’s actually easy to test for both.

Chinch Bug test

Chinch Bug Treatment

To test your lawn for chinch bugs, simply rake your fingers across the dead grass onto a white paper (or your driveway) and you will see them, if they are present.

These bugs naturally exist in our environment and there are some natural diseases that will keep them at bay. They prefer the moist grass but when the grass dries out, these natural diseases go away and the chinch bug population spikes.

If you don’t see any chinch bugs, it’s easy to do a soap flush test for Mole Crickets.

Mole Cricket test

Just mix 1.5 ounces of liquid dishwashing soap. like Dawn, into 2 gallons of water and sprinkle the mixture over 4 square feet of turf. If two to four crickets appear within three minutes of application, corrective action is justified.

Here’s a quick video to show you how to do it:

Once you have determined what type of insect has invaded your lawn, it’s important to begin treatment immediately. Both insects require a liquid application of insecticide which is applied evenly and thoroughly across the lawn. Mole Crickets require a larger volume of material than the chinch bug but both are treated virtually the same.

Hiring a professional pest control company like Peninsular is usually preferred due to the large amount of product needed, not to mention the time it takes to thoroughly treat the lawn.