Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pest #8 - Moss

Moss. It gets for this reason moss is on the most unwanted list at number 8.  To see the other most unwanted garden pests, click here.

Moss will invade your turf and lawn while it destroys landscaped and wood structures.

Moss likes shade; wet soil; rocks, trees, and things like benches that are left in lawns.
Moss tends to be just 1-3" in height and will grow in patches low to the ground, on rocks, in trees, and its color is dark to bright green.

Life Cycle
A crafty creature, moss tackles lawns when they are weakest-cool, rainy winter months, when slow-growing grass blades are less able to defend themselves and moss can take the upper hand in the battle for space, nutrients and water. Winter is also the time of year when moss will spread onto other structures. Moss growth slows or stops in warmer, drier weather.


Here's what you need to do to combat your moss problem.
Survey parts of your landscape that don't receive much sun, especially on the north side of your lot. 

There are many kinds of moss. The image above is just an example. Sometimes moss isn't typical looking, so if you're stuck, take a sample to your local tree service.

Did you know moss doesn't have roots like most plants? It has something called rhizoids, which are underground filaments to help it stay put. These filaments are weaker than the strong taproots of some weeds, making moss easier to hand pull.

Moss can be a problem if it makes a lawn uneven, causing people to trip or twist ankles. It also doesn't withstand foot traffic very well, and will wear down to the soil, leaving brown spots, points of entry for weeds.
Moss can also cause slippery surfaces on sidewalks and stairs. It can also decompose wooden structures.
Moss is often deliberately included in landscapes for its natural but unique shades of color and diversity of textures. Many people transplant moss to rock gardens in their landscape.

If moss is not in any areas where it might be dangerous to humans or manmade structures, there is probably no reason to get rid of it.
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Letting moss grow in poorly draining soil or steep slopes might actually enhance your landscape. It's soft, green, and never needs mowing.
However, if you're really against moss, start by ripping moss from the soil barehanded for small areas. Use a rake for larger patches. You could also burn it out with sunlight by pruning trees and shrubs. Your lawn needs you! Help grass protect itself by giving it proper care. Call your local tree service to help you with your plant and lawn care. It's like health care, just for your plants!
You could also remove grass from shady areas where it's easily victimized and landscape with shade-loving plants like Oregon grape. And, frequently scrape moss off of manmade structures. If concrete areas are a consistent moss problem area, remove the concrete and replace with gravel.
Unfortunately, not many critters eat mosses because most are highly toxic to animals. -Moss is mostly controlled by its picky preference for wet, shady places. It has to fight for these spots, competing with other plants that prefer the same places.  Therefore, many will resort to chemicals to get rid of moss, however this usually only is a temporary solution. Moss will return to shady areas where grass or other plants cannot sufficiently protect itself from the invasion. 
If you do decide to use chemicals to ward off moss, be sure to read and follow the directions for use, storage and disposal. 

Because moss is very choosy about where it lives, it usually returns to the same places. So, keep a record of where it has been, and frequently police those areas. Don't forget to record the effectiveness of any steps you take to set it back. 
Stay tuned for the last 2 pests on my list...coming soon.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

#7 - The Dandelion

The Dreaded Dandelion  - Watch Our for These Guys - They'll Parachute onto Property and Deface Your Landscape.

These guys like sunny, well-drained soil. They grow up to 2' tall; stems are very short or underground (aboveground stalks aren't true stems); flower-topped, hollow green stalks grow out of leafy crowns; leaves 2-12" long form the crown at the base of the stalk; hundreds of small flowers form a buzzy ball that looks like a single, yellow bloom

After the first frost, the last of the plants die, transforming fuzzy yellow heads into parachuting seed bombs. Winds or other disturbances give these daredevil delinquents the kick they need to launch toward new terrain, joining others that landed throughout the summer. New shoots also spread from the crown and any broken roots left in the soil.

Here's what you need to do.
Starting in early spring, stake out sunny areas for crowns and flowers.
Frequently patrol your lawn, carefully searching out trespassers.
Write down where problem areas occur, taking detailed notes on how big the invasion is and when you noticed it.

Dandelions are one of the most familiar wildflowers, but check out the mug shot if you need help recognizing the less familiar, leaf-like crowns.

Like many other persistent weeds, dandelions can grow back from pieces left in the soil so it's essential to remove as much of the plant as possible when weeding. Then come back later to finish them off.

Years ago, dandelion was actually planted on purpose for its many uses. People would eat the crowns, make wine from the flowers, and coffee from the roots. It was also considered a folk remedy for many ailments.
This fuzzy-headed invader clearly makes itself at home in your lawn, but healthy lawns will keep it under control without your help.
If someone in your family is allergic to bee stings, dandelions may pose more of a danger since honeybees love the yellow flowers.

-Leaving dandelions alone is a popular method. Many people don't mind them and some actually enjoy the color they add.
-Healthy turf can grow faster than dandelions, crowding them out and keeping these sneaks from stealing too much ground.
-Hand-pull dastardly dandelions, yanking them from your lawn. Be careful to remove as much of the plant as possible. Mechanical weapons, like tools designed especially for dandelion removal, can be found in lawn and garden stores.
-For areas around gardens or ornamentals, deprive the invaders of sun by putting down mulch. Use black plastic covering or natural mulch like woodchips to shade and starve new seedlings to death.
-Boost your lawn's self defense by properly caring for it.
-In gardens, don't always plant the same crop in the same row if some of your crops are better at fighting back weeds than others. For example, some types of onion do not compete with weeds very well, but corn and potatoes do. After planting a row with onions, plant with corn or potatoes the next season.

Competition from other plants takes a greater toll on dandelions than anything else. They battle for space, nutrients, and water.
-Chemical retaliation is usually necessary only if you have no tolerance for dandelions at all. If you must get rid of them, cut dandelion crowns off at the soil and apply an herbicide solution, usually not concentrated herbicide, directly to the cut. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. And remember, more is not better-it's illegal.
-Apply chemicals in the evening when honeybees are less likely to be around. Do not apply near other flowering plants.
-Read and follow the directions for use, storage and disposal whenever you use an herbicide.

Record where you find dandelions so you can stake out those areas each spring before they produce seeds. Also document the size of dandelion raids each year. If dandelions are increasing in number every year, that might be a sign your lawn's health is declining.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pest #6 - The Himalayan Blackberry

And the #6 pest on my list in the Himalayan Blackberry - yes, this is a PEST! Interested in seeing what the other pests are? Check out my previous posts.

The Himalayan Blackberry will overrun your desired plants, so watch out!
Himalayan Blackberry

This little pest likes to hangout in sunny to partly shady areas with wet to moist soil.

The plant can be few inches to several feet high; stems are thick, sprawling canes with piercing thorns; leaves are dark green with notched edges; flowers are small, white blooms that turn to edible berries.

You'll begin to notice the plant in spring...and then the onslaught begins! New growth spreads rapidly, overtaking plants in the way. New growth can sprout where prickly canes touch the ground. One square yard can have over 500 canes! The root system is huge, storing food and sucking up water needed by other plants. Sweet-tasting berries ripen late in the summer, full of seeds ready to hitchhike in animals' stomachs to new ground. Birds are often accomplices to these perpetrators, since seeds that pass through their digestive systems may actually sprout more easily. In the winter, many leaves die back, but there's no killing this monster. It can survive on food stored in its roots.

Leave the Brambles in Shambles!

Here's a plan of attack to follow:
1. Check out areas where accomplices like birds hang out.
Search out defenseless seedlings.
Make rounds frequently to nip any problems in the bud.
Take some notes on what you see, and especially where you see it so you can remember to return to invaded areas.

2. Other, less intrusive blackberry bushes can be mistaken for the Himalayan Blackberry, so make sure you know what you are dealing with.

3. This perpetrator may penetrate property perniciously, but it can be picky about the place. Himalayan blackberry shows a preference for wetter areas.
Seedlings are much more vulnerable than older plants, so destroying them when they're young is the key to warding off blackberry intruders.

4. Himalayan blackberry is extremely aggressive. It spreads quickly, crowding out plants in the way.
Think about where the offensive plant is, what other plants are near, how big it already is, and if you want to contain it, destroy it, or leave it alone.
Some people like having a small patch of berries to make jams, pies and syrups. But be careful, Himalayan blackberry is always ready to conquer new territories.

5. What to do...
-Dealing with an intense pest like Himalayan blackberry may be overwhelming. However, not counterattacking such a forceful intruder will guarantee a continually larger attack each year. Focus on cleaning up a small area and then keep working outward.
-The larger a blackberry patch gets, the harder it is to get rid of. So if you're thinking you might want to take steps against this pest someday, don't procrastinate.
-Don't hesitate-send in the S.W.A.T. team! Tear seedlings out of the ground as soon as you see them. Little seedlings are less likely to bounce back from attacks than bigger and stronger plants.
-Starve the robust root system by continually cutting down above-ground growth. You can mow large areas, but hoeing is better if the area is small enough. It may take a few seasons, but eventually the scoundrel will starve to death.
-Counterattack invasions after blackberry bushes flower, but before berries are produced. Repeatedly destroying above-ground growth at this point is key because underground food storage is at a low and new seeds have yet to be produced.
-Lots of critters eat blackberry, but unfortunately even their combined appetites aren't big enough to control this thorny scoundrel.
-If you decide to use chemical weapons, the best method is spot treatment-think of it as sharp shooting. For example, cut back the above-ground blackberry bramble as far as possible. Then only apply the herbicide directly to freshly cut canes.
-Do not use chemicals near blackberries that will be eaten.
Always read and follow the directions for use, storage and disposal of herbicides.

6. Were your measures effective?
With a pest like this, it is important to know whether your work was worth the effort or not.  Write down in your gardening records when and where you treated for blackberry. Keep returning to these areas.
Who knew that a yummy berry would be on my most wanted list.  There's more that will surprise you. Stay tuned to find out what other surprises are on  my list.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pest #5 - The Root Weevil

Thanks for keeping up with the worst garden pests of all time.  If you missed the beginning of this series, you can check it out from the beginning here.

Pest #5 is the Root weevil.  

Root Weevil

The root weevil likes to hang out in berry plants and ornamental plants; especially rhododendrons
Physical Features: Young bend their bodies into c-shapes, are plump and usually legless with white bodies and brown heads; adults are 1/4" - 1/2" beetles with long protruding noses and pear-shaped bodies with gray, black or brown coloring.

A root weevil's ruthless assault is from top to bottom. Larvae hatch from eggs laid in the soil or, in the case of the obscure root weevil, from eggs laid on leaves. These murderous munchers spend the winter eating plant roots, weakening them. In mid-spring, the young deviants mature into adult offenders, continuing the assault by climbing up the trunk and chomping on leaves, usually at night. They make a characteristic notching pattern, vandalizing the edges of the leaves. Most root weevil species are all female so they reproduce by cloning in the summer.

Uproot, Weevil!

Here's what you can do to kick these buggers to the curb:
1. Kick dirt away from the plant base. Scout the crown of the roots for bite marks.
You'll have to do some sleuthing at night since these guys are nocturnal.  Check leaves close to the ground. Different species begin feeding at different times in the growing season. The earliest weevils begin in early spring.
Look for notched edges of leaves. Notches may be from a previous invasion, so record where you see notches and check for new bites, or bites on new leaves.

2. Check out adult beetles. Soil-dwelling larvae are harder to identify. Don't confuse them with predaceous ground beetles, which are good guys.
In general, adult root weevils are pretty easy to identify, but figuring out the exact species is difficult. It's essential to research the correct species because information you find about one type of weevil is not necessarily true for other types.

3. Get to know the habits of each life stage. Adults are mostly active at night.

4. Determine how badly you are infested. Plants can handle some damage from weevils. Bites out of leaves are ugly, but bites out of roots are more harmful. Check the root crown for damage.

5. Determine what your plan is.  Will you do nothing or call in the swat team, aka, your local tree service that offers plant health care?
Start by inspecting new leaves closely for notches-good clues for determining population size. If no newnotches appear, you don't need to do anything.
-Handpick weevils off plants at night or whenever you see them. One method to get rid of these pests is to place a white sheet under the plant, shake vigorously, and dump apprehended weevils into a bucket of soapy water.
-Don't mulch over the root crown. Young weevils that eat underground roots can hide under the mulch and could nibble the plant to death.
-Trap rascally root weevils in sticky roadblocks around tree trunks. You can buy kits at a garden store. Just wrap tree gauze or tree bands around the trunk, apply a 3-4" wide band of the sticky stuff, and replace it after it's filled with weevils or not sticky anymore. It's not expensive, less toxic than insecticides, and effective!
-Purchase plants that can hold their own against weevils.
Here are a few things you can do to control the weevil problem
-Ground beetles and other predators will hungrily devour weevils.
-Send in squads of parasitic nematodes, micro-worms that'll destroy weevils. Follow directions for use, storage, and disposal carefully. Not doing so could mean death for your helpers. Locate suppliers through garden stores, or the Internet.
For a more serious problem, here are a few measures you can take.
-Chemical weapons are not effective against all types of root weevils. Be sure you know species you have before you arm yourself.
-If you must use chemicals, spray leaves in the evening since weevils get the midnight munchies. Spray before adults lay eggs, which is usually by June, but it depends on the species. Only spray leaves of assaulted plants.
-When using chemicals, follow directions for use, storage, and disposal. 

6. How well did you do?  Are the root weevils gone?
Root weevils may leave quickly, but the bite marks they leave behind are essential evidence. Document bites on roots, notches in leaves, and the size of their mob. Also note if you did anything that may have made them scram.
Stayed tuned for more on pests later this week.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pest #4 - The Aphid

Aphids suck the life out of innocent rose bushes with the needle-like mouth parts.

Aphid love rose bushes; especially stems, buds and young leaves.

Rose aphids prepare for next spring's assault by laying hundreds of eggs on rose canes. After the young aphids hatch, they spend their entire lives gorging on their victim's life juices and producing more aphids. Too many on one bush can force some aphids to move and begin attacking another rose bush. Unless winters are mild, adults will die and only the eggs will survive until the next spring.

Areas of new growth and the undersides of new leaves are some of the most common places to find aphids. 
Look for areas sticky with honeydew or an unusual number of ants.
Check and see if any leaves are curled, disfigured, or sticky. Also look for sabotaged flowers that have an unhealthy appearance.

There are almost as many kinds of aphids as there are kinds of plants-rose aphid is just one example. Do some research on other types of aphids if you don't think rose aphid is what's ailing your plant. The Internet and the Cooperative Extension office are great resources, with lots of mug shots of these bandits

Not only should you learn about aphids, but you should also get to know the beneficial insects covering the area. Many hunt down aphids, restoring law and order. However, aphids aren't just sitting ducks-they have ants for bodyguards. Ants will tend aphids for their honeydew and protect them from aphid-eaters, so look for ways to deter ants, too.

Plants can fight back if the invasion isn't severe.
Letting these rascals raid your landscape just a little can be good because it provides a food source for lots of beneficial insects. Good guys will eat aphids as appetizers and then devour many more bugs for the main course.
Seedlings are much less able to cope with assaults than larger plants.
Unfortunately, honeydew is an ideal breeding ground for some molds.

Healthy plants combat aphids using chemical warfare, even without your help. Plants give off volatile chemicals when attacked by aphids. To top it off, these same chemicals signal aphid eating bugs that aphids are in the area.
You may also choose to spray aphids off plants with a forceful water jet from hoses. Aphids don't easily climb back onto plants, especially if it's a hot, sunny day.

For small, localized raids cut off leaves or branches and drop in soapy water.
Carefully look over new transplants for aphids. Keep them separated from your other plants until the invasion is gone.
-Aphids prey on plants stressed out from over-fertilizing and incorrect watering, so do your best to boost your plants' health.
Luckily, this determined and detrimental bunch has lots of natural predators. Lady beetles, lacewings, parasitic wasps and many others crack down on large aphid attacks.
Pesticides can be deadly to aphid predators, so avoid using them.
Here are a few other alternatives:
-Plant nectar-producing flowers, like coriander and fennel, to attract these natural enemies.
-Suffocate hatching aphids in early spring with dormant oil, purchased from a home and garden store. Follow the directions and don't use within 30 days of sulfur products to prevent scalding plant leaves.
-Spray a solution of water and insecticidal soap, which isn't as toxic to beneficial insects as other insecticides. Do this early in the day so plants dry by nightfall. Check the label to be sure the product is registered for use on the plant you're spraying, and follow the directions for use, storage, and disposal.
-Avoid pesticides that kill many kinds of insects because they knock off beneficial bugs that eat these suckers.

Aphids reproduce quickly, actually giving birth to females that are already pregnant, so keep good records of changes in population size and tactics you used to control them.
Stay tuned as next week I'll continue the list of pests harmful to your plants, trees and garden.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pest #3 - The Winter Moth

The Winter moth ranks in at pest #3.

The pest will strip your trees of leaves and fruit and leave behind some pretty unsightly injuries on your trees.

Here's how you'll be successful in crunching the Munch!

In early spring, stake out favorite daytime hangouts like inside buds and leaf clusters. At night use a flashlight to look for dubious characters on the outsides of leaves.
Search tree trunks for wingless females in October through January.
Look for devastated flower buds and early dropping of petals from fruit trees such as cherry trees.
It is really helpful to keep a record of what you see and what you don't.

These caterpillars should be one of the only typical-looking inchworms around in early spring.

Then, figure out which stages of the winter moth lifecycle you can impact. If you're anxious to get into the yard during the winter, search out females on warm, winter evenings. These wingless females are easy to catch. Look for the cloud of male moths around the tree trunk waiting for a chance to mate.

As with most pests that cause leaf loss, established trees can bounce back from up to 25% leaf loss for one or two years repeatedly.
Consider that winter moth is a cyclic criminal. It's here one year, gone the next.

Finally, make a plan.
If the danger level is low enough, this is a good strategy. Remember to consider the health of your tree and its ability to withstand some leaf loss. -Trees that have been established for more than a couple of years are quite able to defend themselves. Don't feel like you have neglected your tree if you decide not to do anything. Winter moth is subject to many natural predators and parasites. 

Your tree can defend itself if it's strong and healthy. Check with your local tree service if you aren't sure how to water or fertilize your tree.
Roadblock female winter moths on their way to mate and lay eggs. Put a 3-4" wide sticky barrier on tree gauze around the trunks of infested trees. Both the sticky stuff and gauze can be bought at garden stores for less than $10.

A gang of killers has increased its numbers in recent years and they are hungry for winter moth larvae. They are parasitic flies that trick winter moths into eating their eggs by placing them near recently munched on leaves. As the egg hatches inside the winter moth, it literally eats the moth inside out.
-Suffocate winter moth eggs by applying dormant oil to your tree, purchased from home and garden stores, during November through January. Follow the label directions carefully to prevent scalding leaves.
-Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t) is deadly to caterpillars, yet it's less toxic to other wildlife than most insecticides. It works best on young caterpillars, so spray in early spring on a cloudy but warm day. (Sunlight breaks down B.t.) -Look for products in home and garden stores that contain B.t. and are registered for use on caterpillars.
-Don't forget to read and follow directions for use, storage, and disposal, whenever a chemical is used.
Remember to check with your local tree service for advice, sprays, treatments and maintenance plans for the health and well being of your plants and trees.

To start this series from the beginning, click here.

Thanks for Reading, 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Worst pest #2 - The Crane Fly

To continue the 10 worst pests in you landscape, here's pest #2, the ever-annoying Crane Fly.

This little bugger will swarm you and buzz in your ears, get caught in your hair and literally assault your turf!

The young crane flies like to hang out in soil, and these are the ones that you'll see munching on your lawn. Its the adults the you'll find buzzing around your outdoor lights.
You can ID the young ones  - they are wormlike with tough brownish skin and are called "leatherjackets"; adults are about 1: long with wings and spindly legs, and look like giant mosquitoes

The baby crane flies are real villains. They attack both the roots and tops of grass blades in the spring. In mid-May, crane flies cease the attack and retreat to hideouts just below the soil, until August or September. When they emerge as adults, they look intimidating, resembling overgrown mosquitoes. However, adults won't attack your lawn. They only emerge for mating and egg laying. Beware as unusually warm weather in late winter or early sprig can lead to early feeding and as a result excess damage to lawns.

Here's what you need to do if you've got crane flies and need to get rid of them.  First determine the health of your lawn.  Healthy lawns can withstand well over 40 leatherjackets per square foot with no assistance. The action threshold for weak lawns is lower-about fifteen leatherjackets per square foot.
After May 15, the damage has been done. Focus on preventing damage next year by taking good care of your lawn, but don't bother killing this generation of crane fly.

Leatherjacket populations will diminish during cold winter months and between mid-March and mid-May because of predators and other natural causes. As much as 50% of the invasion can be wiped out without your help. So if you don't have much damage, wait it out. 

-Making and keeping your lawn healthy is the most important thing you can do in the fight against crane fly.
-Disrupt crane fly habitat and promote a healthy root system by removing thatch every few years and increasing oxygen flow through aeration.
-As semi-aquatic creatures, leatherjackets love soggy lawns. Keep your lawn well drained or plant something else in waterlogged areas.

If you're lawn is filled with robins, starlings, parasitic nematodes and ground beetles search you're in luck.  The guys love to eat crane flies.  Avoid using pesticides that could poison your allies.
By-the-way,  90-95% of chemical applications for crane fly are unnecessary! If you really need to get rid of the crane fly, you may decide to arm yourself with a chemical substance. Apply suitable chemicals between April 1 and 15. Be sure the chemical is legal for home use on lawns.
Find out if the pesticide you are using is deadly to bees or birds. Avoid harming innocent bystanders-birds are one of your biggest partners in the struggle against crane fly! If you are using a chemical toxic to bees, at least pull out any flowering weeds or clover they may visit later. Spray in the evening when bees aren't around. Definitely talk to your local tree service before you start to spray.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Top 10 pests of all time

Here you have it.  The top ten pests of all time that will take down your trees and plants if you don't watch out!  To learn how to manage, find, identify and deal with these unwanted pests, visit the Trees "R" Us, Inc. blog posts on integrated pest management.

Pest #1, The Slug.

The little slug can cause big damage.  In worst case scenarios they chomp down garden plants causing injury and death to plants and trees.

Slugs like to hangout under rocks, flower pots, other damp locations; also in tall grass, and weeds.
They are soft bodied; similar to snails with no shell; 1/4" to 10" long; eyestalks that look like antennae.

I bet you didn't know that each slug has both male and female body parts! This makes slug populations incredibly hard to control! Three to 40 eggs are laid at a time. Up to 400 eggs can be laid by one slug each year! As long as the weather is cool and moist, eggs will hatch in just a few weeks and after only three months, offspring can reproduce. So, if you haven't yet realized it, you must act fast if you want to control your slug population.

You'll also know you have slugs by the slime trails they leave behind. It turns silvery when dry, so keep an eye out!

To find slugs, search shady spots and under rocks and pots.
Look for slug eggs (milky-looking, round, squishy eggs) in the soil of your garden bed. This will give you an idea of springtime populations.
Be on the lookout for silvery slime trails. 

A way to check if you really have slugs is by the way of a beer trap.
Slugs are attracted to a chemical given off by ripe fruits called ethylene. This same chemical is found in beer, which is why beer traps are so effective.
Slugs are also attracted to tender plants and seedlings.

You should also look at damaged plant leaves and estimate the percentage of the leaf that is missing due to slug bites.
Plants can bounce back from damage as long as it's not too much. How much is too much? Established, healthy plants can make a comeback from heavy damage, while seedlings may be at risk after just a few bites.
Keeping track of the size of slug invasions will help you decide if the problem is getting better or worse. 

Now make a plan! What are you going to do to get rid of them?
-Get rid of hideouts, like old pots, debris piles, and long grass, where slugs seek shelter when the weather turns sunny and warm.
-Get rid of the eggs! One method is to use a shovel to cut slugs in half.
-Drown the dastardly drunks in beer traps. Slugs will blissfully dive into partially filled cans of beer pushed into the soil, plunging to their deaths. Or cut a hole two inches above the bottom of a paper cup. Fill with one inch of beer and place near plants.
-Are they always attacking the same type of plant? Get rid of it and you might get rid of your slug problem. Slugs love most hostas, but they won't eat the blue cultivars.
-Defend your plants with copper armor! Line gardens, containers or any outside plant with copper strips purchased in rolls from garden stores. The interaction of copper with the slime on their bodies gives slugs the willies!
You can also naturally get rid of the buggers by making your landscape appealing to slug-eating birds, frogs, and snakesSet up birdhouses, birdbaths or maybe even a little pond with a waterfall.
-Slug-eating ground beetles are mortal enemies to these intruders. Reduce your use of pesticides to keep them stalking slugs. 

If these measures don't work, it's time to bring out the big guns.
Commercial slug bait will be successful, but use as little as possible. Follow directions on the label for use, storage, and disposal, or call your local tree service and they will apply their own commercial grade pesticide.
-If you're using bait, put the bait in some kind of container and not directly on the ground.
-Baits with ferrous phosphate as the active ingredient are less toxic than others that often contain metaldehyde, a nerve poison which is dangerous for cats and dogs.

Don't forget to evaluate the results of your plan of attack.
Since slugs have plant preferences, record which plants were slugged and the extent of damage. Also keep a record of strategies you used and if they sent slugs on the run.

Stay tuned for more unwanted predators tomorrow.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Integrated Pest Management - Wrap it up

The last post of my series on Integrated Pest Management.  Thanks for reading and following the posts and the blog.  If you've missed a post along the way, here's the beginning of the series.

The last tip, tip #6. Evaluate the results. Congratulations, you've helped create a better living area for your plants and trees and hopefully they won't be munched on by pests for quite some time.  No matter what the results, it's important that you get out there and see what happened. Recording what you did and if it worked is important, so when past problems return you can remind yourself how you went about apprehending the offenders.

Now that you're familiar with the basics of Integrated Pest Management, it's time to get started identifying some of the worst offenders - the worst of the worst pests. 

To help you track them down, I've created a list of the top 10 pests, what they are, what they eat, what they look like and how to deal with them.  For the safety of your trees, garden plants, and turf, stay tuned as each day, for 10 days I will cover a new pest.  Don't forget to go patrol the area to keep a look out for these bad guys!

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tip 5 - Treat and Prevent Plant Pests

We're getting toward the end of my series on integrated pest management.  If you've missed some posts along the way, you can click here to go back to the beginning.

Here's simple tip #5. Make a plan. If you decide it is necessary to take action, be as stealth as possible. Use what you know about the pest and what you're learning about least-toxic methods to destroy, trap, trick or ward them off. Management categories were described in yesterday's post.  You can click here is review them.

Don't forget that the best strategy is usually PREVENTION. Good sanitation, like hosing out garbage cans and raking up yard debris, can be enough to prevent some insects and diseases from becoming problems.

For more tips on how you can pest-proof your yard, talk to your local tree service or arborist.  They will be able to tell you what they've seen in the area and how to keep them from coming over to your yard.

Check back tomorrow for the last and final step of my integrated pest management series. The beginning posts can be found here.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pest Management - Are your trees in real danger?

Here's tip #4, as promised.  If you missed the beginning of this series, check back a few days to get to the beginning. Integrated pest management is what we've been tackling this week, and here's your next step.

Determine how endangered your plants and trees are. Now that you know what kind of pest you're dealing with, you can better determine the threat to your landscape, buildings, and family. Since most pests are not life threatening to humans, determining the danger level really means figuring out your tolerance level. Ask yourself some questions:
What's going to happen if I don't take any action?

Will it get worse or go away? Will my garden produce a lot less? Will my plants die? Can I wait it out? Are there other concerns? Will someone get stung? Are my plants vulnerable seedlings? Will the destruction of beneficial insects counteract the benefit of taking action?

Many pests will be controlled by other factors in the environment, without humans bringing out the big guns, if we can just be patient.

Bringing an arborist in to assess the situation is another great idea.  When dealing with pests, it is often best to leave it to the pros and let them not only identify the pest and figure out what harm it will cause, but also determine the best way for you to get rid of the pest.

Stay tuned.  Our Trees "R" Us, Inc. blog will be back again tomorrow with another tip for pest management.

Thanks for reading,

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pest Management - research the pest

Tip #3 on pest management. Once you figure out what pest you have on hand, you must research what it does, does not do, what it likes, does not like, etc.  What method does it use to get to the tree or plant? The more you understand it, the better you can fight it. Where does it hang out? What does it eat? When is it the most vulnerable? Is it an invasive species?  Are there any natural predators?  This type of info will help you with the next two steps, steps 4 and 5.

Of course, you can always count on a certified arborist to brief you on the pests in your yard.  They will have many of the answers that you are looking for.  The arborists at Trees R Us, Inc. can help you with all these questions and create a plan to remove the bugs from your property before the bugs remove your tree(s)!  For the previous steps, click here.

Thank for Reading,

Thursday, February 14, 2013

IPM - Integrated Pest Management

To continue the series on the steps you should take ensure your trees and plants steer clear of unwanted pests, here's the second of 6 useful steps with integrated pest management.

2. Make sure you know what kind of pest your are dealing with. Insects, weeds, and diseases all have their quirks. The first step to uncovering these peculiarities is to know exactly what pest is doing the damage. Even closely related species may have important differences. The best way to be sure you know what you're dealing with is to take it to a specialist. Fresh samples can be taken to your local tree service or certified arborist where they can help you I.D. the pest. 

If you are local to the Chicago area, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. and we will send one of our certified arborists to your home to help identify the pest and come up with the best treatment plan for your infected plants and trees. 

It is not dire situation if you find an unwanted pest, but you must address it quickly.

Check back tomorrow for more the next step in IPM. And if you missed yesterday's post =, click here.

Thanks for reading, 


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The 6 east steps to integrated pest management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is one way you can protect your precious plants from potential perpetrators.  There are some basic steps you should be aware of as you begin to thwart off predators.

1. Very simply, walk around your property and carefully inspect plants and weed prone areas. Do this on a routine basis so suspicious circumstances are noticed quickly. Occasionally make rounds at night with a flashlight, since some pests seem to know when you won't be around. Use a magnifying glass to get a closer look at spots on leaves and tiny insects. If you're really diligent, record your observations in a notebook. Better yet, get the family involved an make it a game for the kids and have them do the recording! 

Some ideas of what to include: date, time of day, weather conditions, suspect description, and size/age/health of victimized plants. It might seem tedious, but it'll be extremely helpful when you can't remember which plant had spots last week. Were they really only dime-sized then? It may seem silly or a lot of work, but it really does pay off in the end.

I'll be going over steps 2-6 tomorrow and in the coming days, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading, 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Winter Moth

The Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) is an exotic invasive insect pest with no natural predators.
The moths appear around Thanksgiving and remain active as long as the temperature is mild. The green caterpillars emerge in Spring and feed on virtually any tree or shrub.
All deciduous trees are at risk. Research shows that 4 consecutive years of defoliation can lead to tree mortality.

The moths are harmless but their offspring feed aggressively on most deciduous trees.

This month is on the list of the 10 most unwanted bugs! If you suspect that the winter moth is creeping around your trees, give your local tree service a call.

Trees "R" Us, Inc., a tree service local to the Chicago suburbs, offers sprays and pesticides to keep those creepy crawlies, moths, and other critters away. Give us a call 847-913-9069 or check us out online at

Thanks for reading,

Monday, February 11, 2013

ABC Prune!

Here's a pruning method that is easy to learn and even better, easy to remember!  The ABCs of pruning. The ABCs acronym is a very appropriate method for remembering these steps.

A - Assess the tree
B - Apical dominance pruning (prune for a central stem)
C - Competing branches
D - Dose (amount to prune)

Rather than trying to envision what the tree will look like in the future, make your pruning decisions based on the tree in front of you at the present time.

Pruning can also be done by your local tree service.  If you are local to the Chicagoland area, give Trees "R" Us, Inc. a call or check out the website at  After years of experience, we are experts on pruning, along with a wide array of other tree services, like planting, tree removal, tree care and tree maintenance. Call 847-913-9069 for more information.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tree removal considerations

Deciding to remove a tree has to be based upon a whole range of factors and in some instances certain trees and areas have rules and regulations that you must follow.
Factors to consider before removing a tree are; the species of the tree, its position, the absence or presence of disease, the trees surrounding it, any previous tree surgery and the time of year to name but a few. You should really consider exactly what your motives are before removing any trees just so that we can all work on making sure we are not destroying healthy trees without a valid reason to do so.
Tree surgery is a difficult profession to master and bad, heavy-handed tree surgery on some species of trees can actually lead to thicker, more dense regrowth which in turn creates more shade more leaves which is the one thing that many customers do not want.
If you are local to the Chicago metropolitan area or the north shore, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. for a tree removal quote.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tree trimming the right way

Trees react in all kinds of different ways to pruning. Some good and some bad.  The correct way to prune a tree varies considerably from one species to the next.  For the best results and the best advice I can give you is to consult with your local tree service.  Their arborists should be able to come to your property to take a first-hand look and recommend a plan of action for your trees and prune them for you.  When done incorrectly, pruning can cause serious harm to the tree.  Just leave this one to the pros and your trees will thank you.
If you are local to the Chicago Metropolitan area, contact Trees "R" Us, Inc for a quote on your tree trimming and pruning needs. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Trees and Sunlight

Did you know that trees play a little game of cat and mouse with sunlight?  It's true.  Trees trap sunlight much like a cat relentless in its pursuit of a mouse! A tree will attempt to fill any gaps in its canopy with branches and leaves as it grows. Trees love light and are what is called ‘phototrophic’ which basically means they grow towards the light.
Trees also develop in balance with their surroundings and according to the space available to them as well as many other factors such as the typical weather conditions they are faced with, the type of soil they grow in and the amount of water available to them. Trees are basically woody plants and day by day they try to grow towards the sunlight. Leaves on a tree capture sunlight and convert it into sugars which the tree stores throughout its structure.
Trees are comples creatures that are built to last.  Take care of your trees.
Brought to you by Trees "R" Us, Inc. along the North Shore of Chicago.

Friday, February 1, 2013

How to care for your trees this winter

Many types of trees grow naturally in cold climates, producing strong, new growth every year. However, some tree varieties require special care to survive over the winter in many climates. Adequate protection from cold temperatures and drying winds provides shelter from the elements during the winter season. Take a few precautions with new trees and tender varieties of trees before the temperatures drop to ensure healthy trees in the spring.


Prune off any dead growth or cracked and broken branches before winter. Use a limb saw to cut away larger dead branches that may pose a hazard to the rest of the tree when ice forms. Remove any apparently diseased growth during this time. Remove rotting fruit and debris from the base of trees to discourage the growth of mildew and bacteria in the soil near your trees.


Pile mulch over the roots of the trees and near the base of tree trunks. Avoid using diseased or moldy mulch from a wet compost pile. Use clean grass cuttings or raked leaves to hold moisture near the roots during the dry, winter months. Clean straw, sawdust and shredded bark make useful mulches for this purpose.


Wrap the trunks of new trees or those with thin layers of bark. Late in the fall, wrap overlapping layers of tree wrap along the exposed trunks of fragile trees. Tree wraps protect trees from sunscald and damage caused by items brushing against fragile bark. Remove the tree wrap in the spring before the trees show signs of new growth.


Protect your trees from foraging animals during the winter months. Place plastic tree guards around the base of young trees with low branches. Use chicken wire hoops around the trunks of larger trees to discourage rabbits and climbing rodents. Use deterrent sprays on trees subject to damage by deer, elk or antelope. Select only sprays indicated for use on the type of trees growing in your yard. Apply the spray deterrent according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Contact Trees "R" Us, Inc. at 847-913-9069 for further information or a quote.