Let’s Talk Landscape

I was mowing my St. Augustine lawn when I saw many two-lined spittlebugs flying from my lawn. As a horticulture educator, I was very excited because I wanted to see what damage they cause. About a week later there was discoloration in my lawn. The spittlebugs suck the juice from the grass and excrete a white froth, which makes the lawn looks unhealthy. The front of my lawn is St. Augustinegrass; the sides and back are Bahia grass. The Bahia was not affected. The adult two-lined spittlebugs are usually brown to black in color and have two orange or red lines running across the wings and the back. Two-lined spittlebugs are easy to control with an insecticide labeled for that insect. Treatments should focus toward the nymphal stages. When considering pest control, it is always easier to control the juveniles. Susceptible turfgrass should be monitored closely, especially in the summer months. Applying pesticides during the cool part of day when the pests are active is more effective. Mowing and irrigating a few hours before an insecticide treatment will also increase control.
Yet another pest in the landscape is ants. With the warm summer months, ants are everywhere in the lawn and around the house. It is more effective to treat both the ant mound and the entire lawn at the same time. Also, it would be helpful to apply an insecticide that also repels insects around the perimeter of the house. Pyrethroid insecticides make an effective barrier around the home. You can identify pyrethroid insecticides by its active ingredients which end with ‘thin’. Remember, always read the label.

My next conversation is lawn maintenance during the rainy months. It is advisable not to apply fertilizer if rain is expected within 24 hours. Also, do not fertilize or apply pesticides to wet grass. Additionally, cutting the lawn when it’s wet will result in clogging of the mower and an ugly lawn.
Talking about mowing, driving around my neighborhood, I have noticed a few homeowners mowing their lawns wearing shorts and flip-flops. Each year, many people are injured or lose toes from lawnmower accidents. Pulling the lawnmower backward can result in an accident. Flip-flops have become stuck, causing the operator to fall backwards, lawnmower raised and landed on the toes. It is advisable to always wear closed-toed footwear, and long pants when mowing.

Finally, if you see any signs of disease in your lawn feel free to take samples to your local UF/IFAS Extension in Osceola. For more information on lawn and other horticulture topics, you can contact Grantly Ricketts with UF/IFAS Extension in Osceola County at 321-697-3000 or email gricketts@ufl.edu.

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