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Snails and Slugs

It’s that time of year again, the march of the snails! You may have seen them and if you haven’t go outside barefoot and you will feel them! Snails and Slugs are harmless to humans but can destroy your garden.

Snails and slugs are similar in structure and they are among the most bothersome pests in many gardens and landscapes. Slugs include the gray garden slug, the banded slug, the tawny slug and the greenhouse slug. Slugs are hermaphrodites and can stretch to 20 times their normal length, enabling them to get to seemingly unreachable food sources.

Both snails and slugs use a muscular “foot” for movement, which secretes mucus, which then later dries to form a silvery slime trail signaling the presence of either pest. It’s like a trail of bread crumbs leading the originating slug, along with others, directly back to the host plant to feast at another time. Host plants that are particularly susceptible to snails and slugs include basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia, delphinium, lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, our beloved hostas, and many other vegetable plants.

Have you ever lifted up a rock and seen a grouping of at least 80 spherical, pearly white eggs in the topsoil? These are probably the work of an adult brown garden snail, two years of age. They may lay eggs up to 6 times a year! Slugs, on the other hand, mature after only 3 to 6 months, and lay clear oval to round eggs in batches of 3 to 40 under leaves, in soil cracks, and in other protected areas. So don’t let the leaves from your deciduous trees remain in corners where you think visually it won’t matter.

We recommend Bonide Slug Magic, this will kill the snails and slugs but not your plants. Please do not put salt on them, the salt will damage your lawn, plants and flowers.

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Mosquitoes and Bees After a Hurricane or Heavy Rain Storm

Mosquitoes After a Storm

Bees and Mosquitos

Hurricanes are violent, nerve wracking storms to deal with, and just when you think the danger is over and you start the clean up around your house, you have to deal with the second storm. By that I mean the storm of mosquitoes and other biting insects as well as a possible swarm of bees that occur as a result of a Hurricane or heavy rain.

I know you ask yourself, where did these come from? They were not here before the hurricane. The answer is simple. They have been blown from their homes in trees and shrubbery and are usually thirsty, hungry, and to be quite honest, pissed off! You would be too.

Get Mosquito Control
The heavy rainfall we just experienced has made perfect conditions for mosquitoes to breed. Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water and after the rain we just experienced there are plenty of places for them to now breed. We strongly recommend you dump out any water in and around your yard. Look for places such as wheelbarrows, children’s pools, old tires, water cans, garbage cans, and kiddies toys.

Clean your gutters of leaves that may have accumulated. These are all perfect places for water to collect. If there are things or places you cannot empty such as drainage ditches, bird baths, or low areas of the yard where water collects, we recommend you use a product called Mosquito Dunks. This is an all natural Larvicide that contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) and it kills the larvae of mosquitoes.

To control adult mosquitoes we recommend a general purpose insecticide to spray on your lawn, trees and shrubs. This will kill and repel them and make your yard an unsuitable resting area. We recommend a hose end applicator containing permethrin or Sevin. We also recommend a granular product called Mosquito Beater from Bonide. You apply this over your lawn or garden and it repels them.

Bees, Hornets and Wasps – What Should You Do?
As far as bees are concerned, we recommend you don’t kill them as they are very important to our ecosystem. Bees are responsible for the pollination of flowers and 1/3 of the United States food crops. Hornets and wasps also serve an important role in our ecosystem as predatory insects and as minor pollinators, but if you are in danger of getting stung, then by all means use a Hornet and Wasp Killer.

By performing these few easy steps you will help minimize the attack of biting insects and after a few short weeks their population will diminish back to normal levels. Hope this helps.

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Back to School… It’s a Bed Bug’s Life

These past few weeks many students have gone off to college. I want you to all be aware of the blood sucking bed bugs that could be lurking about in their dorm rooms.

Bed bug populations have exploded across the United States in recent years. People are finding them in pretty swanky places, such as five-star hotels and restaurants as well as fancy clothing stores and other retail outlets. I know the college dorms that your children are living in are beautiful accommodations. Many of them are called “suites” now. Wow, they must be very fancy! I’m sure any college that has dormitories with suites could never have bed bugs! NOT!!!!!!

Bed bugs are flat reddish brown oval insects around the size of an apple seed. They live by feeding on the blood of humans or other animals. Bed bugs are wingless so they cannot fly but can move very quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. One adult female can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime. Immature bed bugs must shed their skin 5 times before maturity. Before each shedding of skin, they need a blood meal. Under favorable conditions the bed bug can reproduce up to 3 generations in a year.

Bed bugs are mainly active at night. They hide in places like mattresses, headboards, or box springs as this makes you easy prey for them while you sleep. They can also hide in cracks or crevices around your home. The bed bug will pierce your skin and usually feed for 3-10 minutes and crawl away full and satisfied. Most bed bug bites are painless at first and go unnoticed. Eventually, they start to itch and become red welts on your skin. Other signs of bedbugs could be small blood stains on your sheets or pillow cases. In spite of their bite itching, bed bugs luckily do not transmit diseases.

Bed bugs usually get into your home by hitchhiking on you or your clothing and luggage. The best way to control them is not to get them. When you travel, inspect all beds and mattresses for signs of the insect. Keep your luggage away from the walls and beds in hotel rooms and keep them elevated on a luggage rack in your room. When you arrive home wash all clothes and run them in your dryer on high heat. This will kill any that could have made the trip home with you. Also inspect your luggage for any stowaways. When your kids get home from school, leave their bags outside and have them unpack and follow the same steps.

If you get an infestation, use Bonide Bed Bug Killer which kills on contact. It also has a residual that will kill any eggs that may hatch up to 4 weeks later. You can also spray the closet and under the mattress where they hide as a preventive measure. Another effective control is Ortho Home Pest Fogger. This is an aerosol that can get into the nooks and crannies that you may not see. A combination of both will give you effective control. As always, read the labels for proper application. If your infestation is really bad, you may want to consider a professional exterminator.

An infestation of bed bugs is not a result of poor sanitation or distressed housing. Even the cleanest homes, hotels, or colleges can get them. Just follow my simple advice and you can prevent or control any that may come your way. On that note I feel a little itchy now, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Stay tuned for my next story, “Head Lice and Other Itchy Tales”.

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How to Control Gnats and Mosquitos

Gnats and mosquitoes are almost everywhere. Even though humans are the most intelligent living things to ever inhabit the earth, we still have not figured out a way to eradicate them from the face of the planet. Most experts and entomologists agree eliminating them is pretty much an impossible task. That being said…my friends, they are here to stay.

This past winter was very cold for overwintering insect eggs. When you have harsh winters like we just experienced on Long Island, insects will sometimes get knocked out pretty good. But when I was at some Memorial Day events they were out in force. So my theory is wrong. Gnats and mosquitoes thrive when conditions are both moist and warm but not very hot. This spring has been perfect for them.

So what can you do? The answer is plenty. The first thing you need to do is rid your yard of any standing water where they can lay their eggs. Breeding grounds are anywhere water can collect, such as old tires, buckets, garbage pails, and saucers under your pots. Clean your gutters of debris a few times a year to be sure water is able to completely drain. If you have a bird bath or fountain in your yard, change the water once a week during the warm months of the year. If you have a pond, introduce fish, as they will devour the eggs of gnats and mosquitoes. If there is standing water that you cannot get rid of, use Bonide Mosquito Beater Water Soluble Pouches. This product is placed in the water and kills the larva (eggs) of the mosquitoes and gnats.

We have an effective repellant called Bonide Mosquito Beater. It is available in a liquid spray or granular form that you apply on your lawn and garden. Both of these products are made of natural ingredients such as citronella oil, cedar oil, lemon grass oil, and geranium oil. After you apply they can repel the gnats and mosquitoes for up to 3 weeks. This is a great product to use before BBQ’s or parties. There is also a Bonide Mosquito Beater in a Hose End applicator that is more potent then the natural product. Use this for severe cases of gnats and mosquitos.

A very effective killer of mosquitoes and gnats would be Ortho Malathion Insect Spray. You have to mix this yourself and apply itwith a hose end or pump sprayer. If you can’t do this, we also carry Ortho Bug-B-Gon Ready to Spray. Just hook it to your hose and apply to your entire yard including shrubbery, flower beds, and lawns. These sprays will not only kill the bugs on contact but will also kill the eggs. Remember to read the labels of any product you use so that you apply them correctly.

If what I just said is too much work for you and you still can’t deal, you have one other option that will get these little “pitas” out of your life once and for all. Move to Antarctica. I promise you they won’t bother you there.

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Insect Prevention

The warm winter we have just experienced has been great. This year we saved our backs by no shoveling and saved our wallets by not using as much heat. Probably the best part about the great winter we just had is that spring has started much earlier then last year. Your pansies and cool weather veggies are already in the ground and many of you are already asking for tomatoes! Now, all of this is great but it also means one thing. Insects will be out in force this growing season–and they have already started.

Under normal winter conditions, the freezing and thawing will control insect populations. That did not happen this year, so many insects survived the winter. You as a gardener need to be aware and proactive in keeping these little critters in check. It is as simple as going out and visually inspecting your plants around the garden. Many common insects, like aphids, you can see crawling around the new growth of your roses or other flowers. Mites, who are also very common, you cannot see with the naked eye. It is very easy to spot their damage. The needles or leaves of your plants will start to gradually yellow and fall off. The easiest way to check for mites is to do the “loose-leaf” test. Grab a piece of white loose-leaf paper and hold it under some branches of your shrubs. Shake the branches and many needles will probably fall onto the paper as well as the mites, which you should see crawling around. Another very common insect is scale. Scales very easy to spot. They come in a variety of colors and forms. They will either look like little brown or blackish clam shells or bumps attached to the branches of your plants or like little white cottony sacks on the branches.

Controlling these pests is very easy and you can do it naturally without the use of dangerous chemicals. Use horticultural oil spray and insecticidal soap at different applications. Insects breathe through their skin. The oil spray, which is non toxic, coats the insects and smothers them. The insecticidal soap, also non toxic, messes up the insect’s digestive system so they don’t want to eat. We suggest doing 3 to 4 applications one week apart, alternating the different sprays. Bonide Horticultural Oil Spray and Safer Insecticidal Soap are excellent choices to get these problems under control. We also suggest a good fertilizer after you find insects, because they can stress your plants out and you need to strengthen them up after you get rid of them. For evergreens, Espoma Holly-Tone is an excellent choice. For other plants use Espoma Plant-Tone.

Keeping on top of the insects this year will keep your plants healthy and producing and as you can see, it is very easy and safe to do.

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Spider Mites

I was out working in my garden on Tuesday, and noticed that usual brownish tinge coming from my 3 beautiful Alberta Spruce’s that I have. So I went over and did the loose leaf test and my suspicion was correct. I have spider mites!

So now I know you’re wondering. What is the loose leaf test? Go inside the house and steal a piece of loose leaf paper from your kid’s notebook. Take it outside to your shrub and while holding the page flat, brush the branches onto the paper. If you have mites, you will see them crawling around on the white paper. Spider mites although very small can do serious damage to your shrubs. They bite into the plant and basically suck the life right out of it. It is especially noticeable when temperatures are in the 60’s and 70’s to low 80’s.

Don’t lose sleep over this. You can correct it very easily. I used Bonide Systemic Insecticide. Spray this on them twice about 10 days apart and you will get rid of the spider mites very easily. Always do your spraying in the early morning or late afternoon. It is not good to spray any plant in the middle of the day when the sun is at its peak. This can sometimes burn your plants. Lady bugs are a natural predator of the spider mite and we have them as well. Also always read the label on the remedy you use so you know you are mixing it correctly. Even if it is organic!

When any plant has an insect or disease it becomes stressed out. After you fix the problem, feed your plants and make sure they are watered well. This will help nurse them back to health.

Any other questions feel free to email me your problems or stop down and see us personally. Always bring a nice size sample of the plant in question. We can not guess from descriptions you make.