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    Stewardship Tips: Nematodes

    By Anna | October 14, 2014

    nemetodes

    The raccoons are at it again. As the weather cools, they begin to forage for food outside of their normal range. Since grubs are feeding near the surface, the raccoons are digging up lawns in search of them.
    Quite honestly, the raccoons are doing us a favor. You may have thought you had the grubs under control. The meticulously and methodically overturned sod in your yard tells you otherwise. If the raccoons are digging up your lawn, more than likely, you have grubs.

     

    Grubs feed on the roots of your grass. If you do have raccoons digging up your lawn, you’ll note that the turf has very shallow roots, if it has any at all. A lawn with shallow roots is not water-wise.

    The best way to keep the raccoons from digging in your yard in the fall is to get rid of the grubs. It’s a case of “an ounce of prevention.”

    The typical treatment for grubs is to apply pesticides in the summer. There are numerous problems with pesticide treatments, though:

    Preventative chemicals must be residual in the soil before the eggs hatch. The timing of the application is critical,
    Curative chemicals, chemicals that kill active grubs, are residual in the soil for short periods of time, timing is also critical for curative chemicals,
    Chemicals must be washed into the soil to be effective. If your soil is clay, your soil is compacted, or you have excessive thatch, pesticides may not penetrate the soil and may run off into your local storm sewer (and, hence, into your local stream).
    Pesticides, when they run off into your local stream, kill insect life, cutting the food chain for our fish off near the base.

    As an alternative to pesticides for grub control, consider nematodes for grub control. Nematodes can be used to control a broad range of insects including grubs. Nematodes sense the temperature and carbon dioxide emissions of insects and move toward their prey. They enter the pest through its body openings where they release bacterium that kills the pests including those nasty grubs.

    Nematodes can be applied to the lawn in the spring in the Northern United States. Check with your local extension office to see when you can apply nematodes in your area. Nematodes are applied to the lawn with a sprayer or watering can and are available at most garden centers.

     

    (photo: http://nematode.unl.edu/wormgen.htm)
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