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Some frequently asked questions are answered below with product and treatment recommendations
Dr. Buglady FAQ's
QUESTION: What would you recommend as an organic Weed n Feed solution?
ANSWER: If you are looking for pre-emergent weed control and nitrogen to green up your plants then we recommend the dry formulation of Corn Gluten. Try Sustane Spring Weed & Feed granular pre-emergent herbicide. If you are looking for just a pre-emergent weed control, try one of the liquid formulations of Corn Gluten: Gluten-8 OLP Liquid Concentrate or the Ready-To-Spray formulation.
Along with a pre-emergent herbicides, we also recommend applying Down To Earth Bio-Turf and Thatch Away to maintain soil nutrition and optimal root health. Combine them with Root Build 240 for increased water and nutrient uptake in your lawn.
Check out our 4 Steps for Successful Lawn Care for a complete guide to a beautiful, organic lawn!
Q: 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?
A: 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.
Q: I have indoor potted plants and seem to have fungus gnats and root aphids. The fungus gnats are a nuisance, but aren't causing any problems. What is the best way to get rid of root aphids?
A: Our best recommendation for knocking back root aphids is the Hb/Sf Beneficial Nematodes Combo. These species combine to both hunt and ambush root aphids where they feed, thereby reducing damage and population growth. The Sf species will also help control fungus gnats and thrips larvae.
For severe infestations, it is good practice to use a knockdown spray like Azera Gardening or PyGanic Gardening prior to applying nematodes. Beauveria bassiana sprays can also provide a lasting impact in the soil with the nematodes being helpful in spreading the root aphid killing fungus throughout the growing medium.
Additional Root Aphid control options can be found here.
Q: 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 Stratiolaelaps scimitus predatory mites.
A: Indeed S. feltiae works great for gnats, as does Bti (the bacteria found in Mosquito Bits and Dunks). Nematodes may also control the moths. You should at least have relief from gnats in your plants within a couple days.
A: Nematodes are unable to affect earthworms and are unlikely to affect mantids (since mantids do not hang out underground). Just be sure to not apply them to foliage and you should be safe. This will help ensure you do not have any untargeted effects on above ground insects.
Q: I grow indoors with temps ranging from 60-80°F and humidity 55-80%. I am growing tomatoes and have a spider mite infestation with webs. What is the best way to get rid of all them and not damage the tomatoes?
A: Try and remove the webbing as much as possible. It protects the spider mites and gives a place where more eggs can be laid. With the temperatures and humidity in your grow, Neoseiulus californicus predatory mites will do the job. They arrive ready to feed and should curb the growth of that population. Be sure to schedule 2-3 releases in order to achieve complete control moving forward.
Followup Question: How many do I release each time? And how do I know when to release? Will I need a knock down chemical?
A: For a severe infestation, I would suggest using a knockdown spray if the plants are not flowering yet. Something like SuffOil-X or Ed Rosenthal's Zero Tolerance spray can knock back the pest numbers and make the mite predators more effective down the line.
In your case, I would use the high release rate of N. californicus - 4,000 mites per 1,000 sq. ft. Release weekly or biweekly until the infestation subsides. You can also release them preventively to help avoid sprays altogether.
Q: I need an animal repellent 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. ---I live in the rural area in southeast Texas.
A: Repels All sounds like a great place to start and will not harm animals, but it won't quite handle all your unwanted critters. For fire ants you'll want Orange Guard Fire Ant Control.
Q: 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 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?
A: Indeed the Btk products work against Grape Leaf Skeletonizers, as do Trichogramma moth egg parasites (if you notice the moths and can control the eggs). Thuricide is great for use in gardens, but Dipel may be more suitable for large area applications.
Q: I have a row of Hemlocks which appear to be infested with Wooly Adelgid. I was told they should be treated with a horticultural oil spray. The row is about 40 feet long. 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?
A: How much spray solution thorough coverage will take depends a bit on the type of sprayer you use. I recommend using JMS Stylet Oil and it comes as a concentrate, like most other horticultural oils. You only need to mix the oil at a rate of 3 tbsp. per gallon of water, so one gallon of concentrate will give you quite a few applications.
Once you knock the adelgids back, consider introducing green lacewing or another general predator like ladybugs to clean up the remaining pests. They can help prevent future issues from popping up.
Q: I am looking to control Sciarids (Lycoriella mali) fungus fly in mushroom production. I have read that Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis may control the fly population at the larva stage. We grow Oyster mushrooms in plastic bags of wet straw. Could 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 are no larvae, will the Bacillus survive and for how long?
A: Bti does control Sciarid fly, but AQUABAC is not labeled for use in food production. I would recommend using the NemAttack Sf beneficial nematodes. You'll get excellent control and have no issues using it around consumables.
Q: Hello Dr Buglady. Is there a "natural" treatment I can use on my yard to kill/repel ticks?
A: For ticks we recommend the combo of the Sf/Hb beneficial nematodes. Treat the area with nematodes, then apply a repellent like Garlic Barrier or Essentria G to keep mobile adults from coming in from neighboring areas. Click Here for more information about step by step tick control.
Q: Our floor has recently become infested with fungus 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.
A: Steinernema feltiae is best for fungus gnats. One can expect relief within a week to two weeks after application. Boy do I understand how frustrating it is to try to work when there are fungus gnats flying up your nose!
Q: 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.
A: Beauveria bassiana sprays can be used to successfully control beetles. Mycotrol WPO is an WSDA certified biological control designed to be sprayed onto plants. Pest insects, beetles included, are infected with the fungus, stop feeding and die shortly after. Spinosad is also effective against the larvae and adults, but should only be used sparingly through the growing season. Another biological control you can use is to control the pupal stage (which happens in the soil) is the Heterorhabditis bacteriophora beneficial nematodes.
Q: 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.
A: 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.
Since the nematodes do not infect the adult beetles, they may be less effective when adults are present. Generally speaking though, beetle grubs will still be active in the soil after adults have emerged. We recommend making a spring and fall application for best results with the nematodes.