Tuesday, August 29, 2023

How Sticky Traps Help Prevent Pest Infestations

The trickiest part of pest control is understanding if your techniques are actually keeping pests out of your garden or greenhouse. If you’re using an organic type of pest control such as nematodes, how do you know if the nematodes are working or if any pests were taken care of long ago?

Sticky traps, also known as fly paper, are a great way to gauge and monitor insects in your growing environment. It’s important to note upfront that if you only put-up sticky traps, you will still have pest problems. While any adult insects that get stuck to the paper are removed from the breeding cycle, sticky traps can’t eliminate an insect infestation. However, they are excellent tools for monitoring the population of invasive pests. Using sticky traps before the onset of an infestation can help you identify what pest issues you are dealing with. If you can’t identify the pest, you can contact your county extension office or a company like ARBICO Organics to help you identify the pest. If you notice that more insects are getting stuck to the paper, that’s a good time to deploy more aggressive pest control techniques, such as using insecticide or releasing beneficial insects such as green lacewings into your grow area.

ARBICO Organics has two types of sticky traps: yellow sticky traps and blue sticky traps

The color is the distinguishing difference for these products. 
Both traps use mess-free, double-sided adhesive for
 easy application to a variety of surfaces, and both 
traps are 5×7 inches. They’re even priced the same! 
The adhesive used in both traps is non-toxic; however,
 it will stick to skin, hair, and fur if a child or pet gets into it. 
Use soap and water or baby oil to remove the paper.

So why are ARBICO’s sticky traps offered in two different colors? It’s not about making a fashion statement. Instead, different colors attract different types of pests. Yellow paper will attract aphids, gnats, whiteflies, and more. Blue paper is especially effective at attracting thrips and leafminers. If you’re looking for a paper for general pest monitoring, we recommend the yellow paper. Yellow coloration is a safe bet for attracting a broad spectrum of insects, and most insects are more easily countable on yellow paper.

Sticky traps are often the first warning sign of an infestation in your garden or greenhouse. Keeping track of how long it takes for a sheet to fill up can give you valuable information about when bugs are at their peak, when a population of a certain pest is rapidly growing, and when your pest control efforts have eliminated an insect population. The earlier you notice an infestation, the better your chances of eliminating it are so put up some fly paper today!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

How to Overcome Late Summer Lawn Problems

You’ve likely heard various news stories about how summer 2023 has been one of the hottest summers on record for the USA. But it hasn’t just been in America. 

Across the world, July 2023 has been the hottest month on record. Focusing back on America, the American West has been experiencing water shortages due to heat and drought, and the traditional American lawn has turned into a big green punching bag for select environmental activist groups. 

Because of this, many homeowners find themselves in the awkward position of caring about their lawn while still being conscious of the environment. By looking at the use and distribution of water, pesticides, and fertilizers in your lawn, it’s possible to keep a healthy and sustainable lawn as the summer comes to an end.

Watering Your Lawn

The easiest (and most obvious) way to reduce your lawn’s water intake is to stop overwatering. Just like how overwatering is the leading cause of houseplant death, overwatering your lawn can lead to yellowing lawns and dead grass. This issue is exacerbated because when you overwater a lawn, the water waste is much more significant than the water that is wasted when you have a heavy hand on your watering can. The EPA estimates that during the summer, 50% of the water homeowners use outdoors is wasted because of overwatering. The average American family uses over 300 gallons of water per day, and 30% of this water is used outdoors, though this number fluctuates based on what region you live in.

Are you worried about overwatering? Use these points as a checklist of common symptoms of overwatering.

1. Runoff. Yes, this is a rather obvious clue, but if you see water splashing down a hill or trickling onto your sidewalk, you’ve oversaturated the soil. Using additional water at this point would be both wasteful and detrimental.

2. Yellowing or browning grass. “Wait! Isn’t yellow grass a sign that your lawn is underwatered?” If you thought that, don’t worry, you’re correct. However, it also applies to overwatered grass. The way to tell is to take off your shoes and walk on your lawn. How does the grass and soil feel on your feet? If the soil is crumbly or crunchy and the grass feels brittle, it is underwatered. If you feel like you’re stepping on a sponge, your lawn is severely overwatered.

3. There are noticeable amounts of fungi and bugs. 
All lawns are going to have bugs crawling through them, but if you’re noticing unusually high concentrations, this should be interpreted as a sign of overwatering. If you notice clumps of mushrooms close together, that is also a sign of overwatering.

So, when does your lawn actually need water? And how should you water your lawn to avoid overwatering?

1. Check for curling at the tips of grass blades. If the tip is curling inwards onto itself, water your lawn immediately. The grass will bounce back and be just fine, but a failure to water at this point will eventually damage your lawn.

2. The grass doesn’t spring up after being stepped on. If you walk across your lawn, look back, and can clearly see your footprints, the grass is dehydrated. Again, immediately watering your lawn can fix this, but the longer you wait, the higher the chance of permanent damage.

3. Water in the early morning. Turn on those sprinklers between 5 and 9 AM. Watering your lawn in the afternoon when it’s hottest doesn’t keep your lawn cool. Instead, the water will evaporate before it can be absorbed by the root system. Do not water during the evening, as this can cause fungal infestations.

4. Think about investing in a rain sensor. Rain sensors (also called rain shutoff devices) can control and override your sprinkler system when certain rainfall conditions have been met. One of the most common causes of water waste is when a sprinkler system is set to a timer and automatically activates after recent rainfall.

Pesticide Use

Healthy lawns still attract bugs, and there are certain types of pests that we want nowhere near our lawns and homes. However, spraying standard, off-the shelf pesticides can cause chemical damage to your lawn. Sure, you’ve taken out the bugs, but you’re left with an ugly yellow scar. Use natural, organic pesticides that repel and control pest populations without stressing your lawn. Here are three recommendations from ARBICO Organics. All suggestions assume that you have an effective way to apply pesticides and/or fertilizers to your lawn, such as a push-along spreader or a handheld sprayer.

1. Garlic Barrier. The natural garlic spray will be absorbed into your 
lawn approximately 30 minutes after application. Don’t worry about 
the smell! That’s absorbed too. At the time of application, 
concentrated garlic damages the skin of many common insect
 pests, which shortly results in their death. After the application, 
the garlic absorbed by your lawn will continue to repel insects 
for up to 2 weeks.

2. Mosquito Magician. Nobody likes mosquitoes. 
Get rid of both larvae and adults by applying Mosquito Magician 
to your lawn. A natural mixture of citronella, cedar, 
lemongrass, garlic, geraniol, and rosemary oils come 
together to rid your lawn of nature’s infamous bloodsuckers.

3. Essentria G. Composed of essential oils like clove, thyme, and wintergreen, this insecticide was designed for application on 
schoolyards and government facilities. It repels nuisance
insects while being safe for children to play in.

Fertilizer Use

You never want to apply synthetic or chemical fertilizers to your lawn in the summer—the risk of burning your lawn is too high. Once August rolls around and the weather (finally) starts to cool, there’s only one more window where you can apply fertilizer to your lawn. You’ll want to apply your final batch of fertilizer in the late September to early October range. Ideally, you want to apply your final batch of fertilizer about 60 days before the first freeze. This fertilizer application is to help your lawn get greener faster in the spring. Look for a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to tide your lawn through the winter. Before applying fertilizer in the fall, try doing a pH test on your lawn. If the soil is too basic or acidic, hold off on applying fertilizer, as it won’t be absorbed into the soil and will instead encourage weed growth. Winter will act as a reset for your lawn, and while it won’t be as green in spring as it would have been with proper fertilizing, you also won’t have to worry about an infestation of weeds.

For more information on lawn care visit ARBICO's dedicated lawn care page here

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Five Steps to Aphid Control

Aphids, also known under their family name Aphididae, are a slow moving pest found in different shades of green, red, brown, black and yellow. They can be spotted by their pear-shaped, oblong bodies and are identifiable by the two tubes (called chronicles) projecting from their rear. You may have seen these little pests around your garden before. Not to worry! Common to gardens big and small, Aphids are a familiar insect across US and Canada due to their diversity in species variety and their rate of reproduction. Attributable to their prevalence, there have been many products developed, solutions made, and preventions discovered. These pests are best treated early and diligently—the five steps to aphid control are to trap and monitor, use repellent sprays, implement general predators, find a great knockdown spray, and to make use of aphid parasites.


Trap & Monitor

Aphid attacks take form in a variety of ways and results from these invasions can range from having no response at all to plants having curled or swollen leaves. Symptoms of aphid damage can include decreased growth rates, mottled leaves, browning, wilting, low yields and death. One way to take control of your aphid predicament is to trap and monitor. Sticky traps can be a great way to keep an eye on your crop and catch any early signs of aphid infestation. These traps use a color spectrum to attract pests and prevent further damage by giving you a sense of the severity of the problem at hand. Sticky traps work best for outdoor gardens and potted plants. Ribbon Traps are ideal for row crops and greenhouses. With their vibrant yellow color, this method attracts aphids to the brightness of its sticky surface to trap and monitor the pests.


Repellent Sprays

Although aphids can cause minimal damage, these pests have the potential to transmit bacterial and viral diseases. If such a condition is spread, this can be much more of a challenge to control than the actual aphids themselves. Any of these methods listed above and below will work to combat your aphid problem, including repellant sprays. Check out Garlic Barrier spray to get  broad spectrum action with minimal contact effects. This spray can be best used in a variety of gardens from commercial to residential, and can be used safely around people, pets, animals and fish. Aphids won’t care much for the sulfurs absorbed from the garlic if you use this spray!


General Predators

Another problem caused by aphids is the sticky substance they leave around stems and leaves. This “honeydew” is a sugary liquid that is produced by aphids as waste. It can attract other insects like ants that will eat the honeydew, causing more issues for your garden. Yet another reason to find a solution for your aphid issues! The third way to limit aphid population growth is to use general predators. Green Lacewings are a great way to control soft bodied insects including aphids. These helpful creatures are ideal for lowering aphid populations! In addition, both Assassin Bugs and Minute Pirate Bugs are two more effective forms of general predator bugs that will assist in curbing population growth of these pernicious pests.


Knockdown Sprays

Not only can the “honeydew” that these aphids produce cause problems in itself, but sometimes this sticky substance can encourage fungal diseases such as powdery mildew and Black Sooty Mold. An additional way to control aphids and prevent such fungal diseases is through the use of knockdown sprays. Before a significant amount of aphids are spotted, Insecticidal Soap sprays can efficiently minimize effects on beneficial insects while keeping your aphid populations contained. Using neem oil is another method to rid of these pests. However, there is a bigger risk to beneficials, unlike the insecticidal soap mentioned previously. BotaniGard® 22WP is yet another useful way to regulate your aphid issues through the use of Beauveria bassiana, which spreads a disease by the name of White Muscardine to kill these pests.


Aphid Parasites

Effective releases of general predators are a helpful way to limit aphid populations. However, if you are looking to control a more severe infestation, use aphid parasites. By using parasites to specifically target your aphid problems, your efforts overall will be more effective!  Aphid parasites include Aphidius colemani, Aphelinus abdominalis, Aphidius ervi, and Aphidoletes aphidimyza.

Although aphids are a widespread challenge for gardeners, commercial growers and greenhouses, these pests can be quite detrimental to one’s garden if not under control before reproduction starts. Thankfully, there are many solutions and methods of prevention due to their prevalence and abundance across gardens in North America. Many of these solutions can be found on ARBICO’s dedicated aphid webpage. By following the five steps to aphid control, your garden should be abundant in no time!

By: Kyra @ ARBICO Organics 

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