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Dr. Buglady Most Recent Questions and Responses

QUESTION: What would you recommend for an organic solution as opposed to using the Weed and Feed or an organic equivalent?

Sherry, Liverpool NY

ANSWER: If it’s just green up and weed prevention you’re looking for then corn gluten meal is fantastic.

Corn Gluten Pre-Emergent Herbicide

With that (or any fertilizer choice) I always recommend EM-1 Microbial Inoculant and Nitron A-35. EM is a great microbial blend that keeps the nutrients flowing through the system and Nitron is perfect to relieve any micronutrient deficiencies…it also helps to reduce time between waterings.

That combination would do it, but if you’re having any specific challenges with your yard, please let me know!

QUESTION: I am considering the use of beneficial nematodes on my pastures for pest control of ticks, grub worms, termites, etc.. Do the nematodes present a hazard to grazing livestock such as alpacas and llamas? Do the nematodes attack slugs?

Tom, Dover AR

ANSWER: Our beneficial nematodes present no risk to any creatures besides insects and their close relatives (like ticks). The strains of nematodes we carry do not attack slugs.

QUESTION: We live in a cohousing community; one of our goals is to reduce our environmental impact. One way we do that is to have composting toilets instead of flush toilets. In the last year or so our composter has had lots of gnats. Until recently they haven't been much of an annoyance, but they are becoming worse. The representative from the composter company has recommended S. Feltiae nematodes. Unless you have a recommendation otherwise, I will order some from you.

Our composter also has moths that have been identified as Pyralis farinalis, but it looks like you do not have a solution for them. We have been advised to try Hypoaspis mites.

Margaret, VT

ANSWER: Indeed S. feltiae works great for gnats, as does Bti (the bacteria found in mosquito bits and dunks). Nematodes may also control the moths.  If not the feltiae, then H. bacteriophoraHypoaspis would be a good thing to try but it cannot be used in conjunction with nematodes.  I'd start with feltiae and go from there.  You should at least have relief from gnats in your pants within a couple days.

QUESTION: I have ordered and received NemaSeek.  Will the nematodes adversely affect the praying mantis or earthworms?

Stacie, Independence MO

ANSWER: Nematodes are unable to effect earthworms and are unlikely to affect mantids (since mantids do not hang out underground).  Just be sure to not apply them too much to foliage and then rinse the area down after application.  This will help to ensure you do not have any untargeted effects on above ground insects.

QUESTION: I grow indoors in soil temp ranges from 60 to80 degrees humidity 55-80% I am growing tomatoes I have spider mite infestation with webs. What is the best way to get rid of all them and not damage the tomatoes?

Rooster, WA

ANSWER: Sounds like Neoseiulus californicus mite predators will do the job for you! Be sure to schedule 2-3 releases in order to achieve complete control.

Followup Question: How many do I release each time? And how do I know when to release? Will I need a knock down chemical? Thank you Rooster

ANSWER: If it’s just a medium level infestation you can probably get away with just the bugs, otherwise I’d suggest something like SucraShield for knockdown: SucraShield Insecticide Miticide/

One releases according to the number of square feet you have to treat.  You release on a schedule until you don’t have a problem anymore. Then some folks just release every once in a while anyway as a preventative (especially when they know it’s a consistent problem or they’re bringing in new material.)

QUESTION: I just moved into a new home and there are tons of spiders.  Wolf Spiders are heavily populated in the yard and indoors, in addition to various small spiders, I recently found a brown recluse spider.  What can I do?

Christopher, St. Louis MO

ANSWER: I recommend spraying throughout with Orange Guard: and then making some homemade spider traps (my favorites are made with leftover macaroni ‘n cheese boxes and Tangle Trap Sticky Trap Coating. That should take care of things indoors. Outdoors it’s best to tolerate them if at all possible—they provide a very important job controlling other unwanted insects!

QUESTION: I need a product like Repels All for my garden and other outside areas--however I do not want to endanger my wild birds--is Repels All the product for me?  I have skunks, opossums, squirrels, armadillos, snakes, fire ants etc. etc---I live in the rural area of south east Texas.

Joyce, Simonton TX

ANSWER: Repels All sounds like a great place to start but it won’t quite handle all your unwanted critters! For snakes you’ll need some Snake Stopper: and for fire ants you’ll need a special product too: Orange Guard Fire Ant Control. But the Repels All will sure get you started in the right direction.  Remember, it just repels the critters; it does not harm them. Sounds like you have quite the invasion crew out there!

QUESTION: When I lived in AZ (and I may be moving back), I planted a lot of grapes. At first things were great and then these little half inch long blue worms (caterpillars) with yellow sort of wrapped stripings around them, discovered us ..... and just decimated the grapevines. I identified them as Grape Leaf Skeletonizers. You mention a couple of different grape pests, but not Skeletonizers in particular. Do the caterpillar products (Btk) take care of Skeletonizers, too? If not, what do you recommend for them?

Sandy, Long Pine NE

ANSWER: Indeed the Btk products work against Grape Leaf Skeletonizers, as does Trichogramma (if you notice the moths and can control the eggs).

QUESTION: I have a row of Hemlocks which appear to be infected with Wooly Adelgid. I was told they should be treated with a Horticultural oil spray. I have a row about 40 feet. They are about 30 years old and are at least ten to twelve feet tall. How much product will I need, and how do I apply it?

Peter

ANSWER: JMS Stylet Oil would be an excellent choice for a spray oil product. Getting thorough coverage will be your trickiest thing—be sure to select an appropriate sprayer. After that it would be a good idea to release a good generalist like green lacewing to hopefully eat up any critters that manage to escape!

QUESTION: I am looking to control Sciarids (Lycoriella mali) fungus fly in mushroom production. I have read that Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israelensis may control the fly population at the larva stage. We grow Oyster mushrooms in plastic bags of wet straw. Could the product AQUABAC be added to the substrate during the initial process (filling and adding the mushroom spawn) and what is the lifespan of a single application? If there is no larva, will the Bacillus survive and for how long?

Robert, Loretto Ontario

ANSWER: Indeed Bti does control Sciarid fly but the product Aquabac is not labeled for use in food production. I would recommend using the beneficial nematode Steinernema feltiae: NemAttack Beneficial Nematodes-Feltiae. You’ll get excellent control and have no trouble with a labeling conflict!

QUESTION: Hello Dr Buglady. Is there a "natural" treatment I can use on my yard to kill/repel ticks?

Pat, Bridgewater MA

ANSWER: For ticks we recommend beneficial nematodes of the variety Heterorhabditis bacteriophora: NemaSeek Beneficial Nematodes

QUESTION: Our floor has recently become infested with fungal gnats.  There are a few nematode options on your website. I am wondering which is best for a) gnats, and b) indoor plant conditions.Any advice is appreciated.

Aubrey, Toronto Canada

ANSWER: Steinernema feltiae is best for fungus gnats. One can expect relief within just a couple days. Boy do I understand how frustrating it is to try to work when there are fungus gnats flying up your nose!

QUESTION: I have Lily Beetles on my lily plants, and a lot of them. It was suggested I use Neem oil. I have tried this with some effect. Is there anything else I could try? They are wreaking havoc with my beautiful lilies. I have probably 100 lilies in close proximity of each other and spraying them by hand is extremely time consuming. I hope you have a suggestion or somewhere I could find assistance.

Deb, Webster NY

ANSWER: Besides neem, spinosad is also effective against the larvae and adults: Monterey Garden Insect Spray

The best biological control I can suggest would be effective against the pupal stage (which happens in the soil). That would be the beneficial nematodes Heterorhabditis bacteriophora: NemaSeek Beneficial Nematodes I would also try applying them foliarly as they could be moderately effective against the larvae as well.

QUESTION: Is there a problem with applying NemaSeek nematodes to a garden where I have laying hens who scratch? Please let me know ASAP. Also if the beetles are up are the nematodes still ok to apply and effective.

Suzanne

ANSWER: The beneficial nematodes we sell do not harm any creatures except insects and their close relatives (like ticks). They are harmless to people, plants, pets, livestock etc. The chickens will be just fine (“a little extra protein” as we say!)

And indeed they are less effective if the beetles have already emerged. Generally speaking though beetles are at many stages in the soil and emerge over quite a long period of time. And of course nematodes can last for a long time so it’s better to have them in place so when the 1st larvae of the season emerge from newly laid eggs, nematodes are there to control them.