Category Archives: Insects, Diseases and Other Pests

Beware of Garden Bullies

  Occasionally gardeners may introduce a plant into their yard’s flower beds that initially seemed attractive and innocent, only to later discover they have a garden thug or bully. It’s the kind of plant that will race to occupy every available inch of soil, crowding out meeker and less aggressive plants, even to the point of becoming the dominant plant in the area. Experienced gardeners know what I am talking about, and many will have stories about what it took to eradicate the bully (assuming they were indeed… Read More →

Watch Out for Chinch Bugs

Hot and dry. That’s how they like it! “They” are chinch bugs, and this is chinch bug season, when the temperatures soar, and it’s tough to keep up with lawn watering. Chinch bugs can be tough to spot, because 1) they are small, about 1/6 to 1/5 of an inch, and 2) they are quick to hide in the thatch at soil level when disturbed. But their damage is unmistakable. Well, it can be mistaken for lack of water, because chinch bug infested St. Augustine causes the grass… Read More →

Don’t Breed Your Own Mosquitoes

Gardeners know the best time to be out doors tending the lawn, landscape and garden is in the early morning and late evening, when the sun is not beating down its extreme heat. This is the also the time when we are most likely to be bugged and bit by mosquitoes. Of course there are also mosquito species that bite during the day. Besides the aggravation of being bitten, mosquitoes also transmit diseases, with West Nile virus being the one of most recent concern. Mosquitoes also transmit heartworms… Read More →

Treat for Winter Weeds, Fire Ants Now

We are now in a fall weather pattern, according to local weathermen, with milder temperatures and rain in the forecast. I am ready for a change. While this forecast spells relief from another hot, dry summer, it also will trigger some unwelcome pests to our yards. A couple of these are winter weeds and fire ants. Winter Weeds. Winter weeds, like henbit, chickweed, and annual bluegrass (Poa annua), may seem a long way off, but late summer to early fall is the best time to apply pre-emergent herbicides… Read More →

Azalea Lace Bugs

Queen of early-blooming shrubs, nothing says spring quite like azaleas. And, in case you haven’t been paying attention, azaleas can also say summer and fall, too, with the introduction of the popular reblooming Encore brand of azaleas. And while East Texas provides ideal climate and soil for growing these charming plants, azaleas can also have their share of problems. Azaleas prefer an evenly moist soil during the growing season. A well-drained soil, high in organic matter provided by compost and peat moss, are ideal conditions for growing azaleas…. Read More →

The Fungus Among Us

It has been a great spring for plant growth, and also, if you were a fungal organism, for infecting plant leaves. Leaf spot diseases can vary in severity from year to year, from non-existent to severe – it all depends on the environment. Fireblight on ornamental pear (which has good resistance to this bacterial disease) is a good example  – most years it is non-existent, but this year environmental conditions combined to cause an outbreak. Many plant leaf diseases need mild weather and prolonged rainy spells or heavy… Read More →

Fire Blight on Ornamental Pear

  Last week I got the first call I have been anticipating for several weeks now. The caller began to describe how the leaves on her ornamental or Bradford pear tree were turning black and the tree looked bad. After a few questions, I speculated it was a common disease called fire blight. A tour around town confirmed my initial diagnosis. Quite a few of the ornamental pear trees I observed have the tell-tale signs of fire blight. These signs include new leaves turning black or brown, new… Read More →

Buggy Bug Bugging Folks

I couldn’t think of another word for “people” that starts with “B”, but this little bugger apparently has folks bugged. I’ve gotten a few calls from co-workers, PCO’s and others on this insect that is congregating in large numbers in rural parts of east Texas. It kind of looks like a long chinch bug, and indeed, is a member of the same family of insects – the true bugs. (In the world of entomology, not all insects are bugs, but all bugs are insects). I had no idea… Read More →