Gardening with Laurie: Spring is time for beautiful plants, pests
By Laurie Garretson
March 28, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 27, 2013 at 10:28 p.m.
The arrival of spring is usually welcomed by everyone. Spring is a time of pleasant temperatures, beautiful, sunny days and lots of new life. Spring is a time when many of our plants come back to life after the dormant season. Spring is a wonderful time to be a gardener. Unfortunately, for us gardeners, it's also a time for pests.
We aren't the only ones that like the pleasant weather. It's almost as though insect pests anticipate spring as much as we gardeners do. All it takes is one or two warm, sunny days to bring out the worst of them.
Become as proactive in your landscape as possible. Start now by building up a good army of beneficial bugs to help balance out the bad bugs.
There are certain plants you can grow that will help bring in more of the beneficial insects. For example any type of yarrow or lantana will help.
Releasing ladybugs and lacewings now and again in a couple of weeks can help to start your beneficial insect population. Both of these good bugs will help keep many of the smaller pests under control.
Now is the time to prevent worms from becoming a problem in your landscape by releasing Trichogramma wasps. These beneficial wasps will take care of worms that are many times in oaks, ash, mulberries, Mountain Laurels, pecan trees plus any other plant or area of your yard that typically has a worm infestation problem.
Trichogramma wasps are very tiny non stinging wasp that eliminate the eggs of more than 200 species of moths. No worm eggs means no worms.
Another pest that's starting to show up are grasshoppers. Grasshopper eggs are hatching, and this is the best time to get rid of them. Putting out Semaspore bait is an easy, safe means of controlling grasshoppers. Semaspore is a microscopic spore that kills only grasshoppers and young grasshoppers are most susceptible.
Beneficial nematodes are another of the beneficial creatures that can be of great value for pest control. These microscopic nematodes will help rid your landscape of all kinds of bad pests such as grub worms, chinch bugs, cutworms, termites and many more. Good nematodes will not harm animals, humans or plants and are easily applied to your soil with a hose end or pump up sprayer.
Last but by no means least, are mosquitoes. I don't really think these guys ever went away this past winter. Keep in mind that mama mosquito has to have water to lay eggs. Adding a few drops of orange oil to any standing water or a product called Mosquito Bits (or dunks) will help kill mosquito larva.
Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.
Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.