Question: I just noticed some large ant mounds in a small pasture we have. Are these fire ant mounds?

Answer: I suspect they are. New fire ant mounds are appearing as temperatures get cooler heading into fall. Expect to see mounds ranging from several inches to a foot in height. Fire ants have been in Alamance County for the past 30 years and can be found throughout Alamance County. They are not confined to farms. I see them regularly on commercial properties such as apartment complexes, retirement homes, shopping center islands, and even in the parking lots of fast food restaurants. They often go unnoticed until someone is bitten. There are several treatment options available for use around your home and property. I prefer to use a bifenthrin insecticidal drench for mounds located near residences or where contact with human or animals is likely. If you have multiple mounds to treat, purchase a concentrated bifenthrin (Talstar) at a local farm supply. This insecticide is mixed in water and poured over the mound. In a matter of minutes the queen and workers are killed. Baits can also be purchased. These are spread around the mound but not over it. Foraging ants bring the bait back into the mound. It can take several weeks for this to work. Never kick the mound to see if it is active. You may regret it. They will cover you feet within seconds and their bites are painful.

 

Question: My pumpkin vines are covered with squash bugs. How do I get rid of them?

Answer: My former co-worker and past Alamance County Extension Director, Roger Cobb, has the best advice for getting rid of them. Roger professes the organic approach of using bricks. Try to get as many of these bugs on one side of a brick, then using another brick smash them together as hard as you can. I must admit it does work, and is probably the only way you are going to kill large adult squash bugs. Just be sure your fingers do not overlap one of the bricks! With that said, you are better off using insecticides that contain esfenvalerate or Thiodan. Thiodan may be difficult to find. These products will control young squash bugs much better than full grown adults. There is no point in trying to control this pest on squash plants that are past their prime from their first planting. Older plants should be pulled up and removed from the garden. Denying them their food source is all you need without the use of insecticides.

 

Question: How soon can I plant a fall garden?

Answer: As soon as the garden dries up you can start planting cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and collards. Seeded vegetables such as beets, turnips, and spinach can be sown before the end of the month. Make room for these veggies by disposing of those summer vegetables that are on the decline. Don't let the hope of a few more tomatoes, cucumbers or squash keep you from disposing of diseased, insect ridden, and worn out plants that can keep you from planting on time. The window of time for planting fall vegetables is small and is based on day length. Planting outside that designated time frame will limit your plants' performance and cold tolerance. Mid-August through mid-September is the optimum time. With all the recent rains, I am considering a fall crop of rice.

 

Question: How can I get rid of bermuda grass in my lawn?

Answer: Late summer sprayings using Roundup or a generic glypsophate is the best method. Three sprayings scheduled 2-3 weeks apart will be needed for around 98% control. Most turf professionals will agree that is the best you can do. Mix your glypsophate to the 2% concentration found on the label. Keep in mind that this herbicide kills all grass including fescue. Be prepared to reseed fescue this fall if you are spraying out bermuda in your lawn. I remind my readers that glyphosate (generic Roundup) is sold under over 100 trade names. You have to read the label or get a salesperson to help you. It can be a daunting task.

 

Rett Davis is a retired Alamance County Extension Director and certified arborist. You can email your questions to him at Rett_Davis@ncsu.edu