Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Outdoor Pest Control

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moths

About Tent Caterpillars

The eastern tent caterpillar moth is a native North American pest, that can regularly be found throughout New Jersey. Tent caterpillar nests are a common sight on cherry, apple and crabapple trees in the late spring and early summer months. These unsightly silken webs are built in the crotches of the tree limbs and can become quite large based on the number of caterpillars on the tree. During the day you may see these nests filled with hundreds of caterpillars. Eastern tent caterpillar moth populations fluctuate from year to year with large outbreaks occurring every eight to ten years. During years with high populations the eastern tent caterpillar moth can also be found on plum, pear, maple and hawthorn trees.

The eastern tent caterpillar moth overwinters on the tree as an egg, usually in a mass of 150-400 eggs. These egg masses are covered with a shiny black material the helps protect the eggs during the winter months. Once spring arrives the larvae hatch, this is normally around the same time cherry tree buds open and the trees begin to produce leaves. As the larvae crawl, they produce a silken string which is the beginning of their nest.

What Tent Caterpillars Feed On

The caterpillars feed for 4 to 6 weeks on the foliage of the host tree and grow to approximately 2 to 2 ½ inches in length. Feeding generally occurs during the day time if temperatures allow. Most feeding will occur within 3 feet of each tent caterpillar nest, so it is common to see multiple nests per host tree. During the night, or in the rain the caterpillars will stay inside the nest for protection from the elements. As they grow so will the size of the nest. The eastern tent caterpillar moth can defoliate a tree when populations are high, and some tree species may be killed if the tree does not have enough time to grow a new set of leaves for food production and storage prior to the winter. Any level of feeding and leaf loss weakens the host tree. In home landscapes the nests can become an eyesore, especially as defoliation occurs and they become more visible.

Mature eastern tent caterpillar moths will leave the host tree and search for a suitable, protected location to spin their cocoon and pupate. It is during this wandering phase that they become a nuisance and can be a mess when found on driveways, patios and walkways. The caterpillars are no longer feeding at this time, so no further damage will be caused to surrounding trees. Once a favorable location has been found the caterpillar will spin a white or yellowish cocoon. Once inside the cocoon the caterpillar transforms into a pupa and remains in the cocoon for approximately 3 weeks. Once fully mature, the eastern tent caterpillar moth emerges from the cocoon. Adult eastern tent caterpillar moths are reddish-brown in color and have a wingspan of about one inch. Male and female eastern tent caterpillar moths mate and the female will begin to lay eggs on small branches. These eggs will hatch in the spring of the following year. We see one generation of eastern tent caterpillar moths in New Jersey per year.

If you have experienced tent caterpillar moth damage on your trees, we recommend learning more about Deep Root Fertilization to promote tree recovery.

Treatment

There are a wide range of treatment options for eastern tent caterpillar moths that range from removal to chemical control. Beneficial insects, birds and toads feed on the eastern tent caterpillar moth. Beneficial wasps parasitize eggs, larvae and pupae reducing that year’s eastern tent caterpillar moth population. Early control is essential in minimizing damage to the host tree. Pruning of small twigs and branches that contain egg masses can be done in the winter prior to the eggs hatching in the spring. Small tent caterpillar nests may be removed and destroyed in the spring. Tent caterpillar removal is best when the nest is small, prior to feeding damage. The tent caterpillar nest should be destroyed or disposed of offsite. Removing the nest from the host tree and leaving it on site will allow the caterpillars to migrate to another host tree.

The application of registered insecticides by a licensed company is also a tent caterpillar treatment option. Tent caterpillar treatments must be applied to the host tree once the tent caterpillar nests are visible. They are protected while inside the nest, so it is important the tent caterpillar treatment be applied to the branches and leaves of the host tree as well as the tent caterpillar nest. As the tent caterpillars venture outside of the nest to feed they ingest the tent caterpillar treatment and are controlled. It is important to only use a licensed pesticide applicator for the treatment of eastern tent caterpillar moths. The timing for tent caterpillar treatment is critical as the application is only effective up until the wandering phase.

Conclusion

If you have a history of eastern tent caterpillar moth activity on your property contact your tree care company to discuss tent caterpillar treatment options and timing for your area. If you are in our service area and have any questions about this pest, feel free to contact our office at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate.

Getting Rid of Voles

The picture above shows what runways from voles look like in a lawn. Learn more about getting rid of voles below.

What is a Vole?

Have you ever heard of a vole? Don’t worry, although this rodent is common, many people have never heard of them. Often referred to as meadow or field mice, these small rodents are generally dark brown or gray in color and only around five to eight inches in length, while their body is frequently more robust than a mouse.

Voles construct runways at the lawn surface with numerous burrow openings that typically stem from shrub beds or wood lines. In some cases, the network of runways can be extensive, covering a significant area of a property. While these trails can be found any time of the year, they are most often discovered as snow begins to melt in the early spring. Under snow cover and hidden from predators, voles will venture further into open areas foraging for food. Following a winter with persistent snow coverage for long periods, damage tends to be worse.

Distinguishing a Vole from a Mouse

Prior to protecting your property and getting rid of voles, it is important to be able to identify the mouse-like rodent as it differs from other rodents like moles, mice and rats. Voles are almost always mistaken for mice and one of the best ways to differentiate the rodents is by tail length. Mice have long tails that are equal to about half of their body length while voles’ tails are shorter. Their tail has thin hair and is darker on the upper side than the lower side.  Another distinguishing characteristic includes their round head shape and blunt snout. The voles’ eyes are very small and black, and their ears are covered by fur.

There are several species of voles that are native to our area and eat a wide variety of plants, most frequently grasses and glasslike plants. In the late summer and fall they store seeds, tubers, bulbs, and rhizomes. They primarily eat bark in the fall and winter, and will also eat grain crops, especially when populations are high. Occasionally food items include snails, insects and animal remains. Voles are active day and night year-round, with peak activity being from dawn to dusk. Their home range is usually a quarter of an acre or less, but this range varies with season, population density, habitat and food supply.

Most importantly, voles need ground cover to survive and therefore avoid open ground areas. Cleared spaces as narrow as 10 inches inhibit their movements.

Although voles breed throughout the year, breeding is most common during spring and summer months. Generally, they have one to five litters per year and litter sizes range from one to 11 young and the gestation period is about 21 days. Further, the young are weaned by the time they are 21 days old, and females are sexually active in 35 to 40 days. Voles have short life spans that generally range from two to 16 months.

Getting Rid of Voles

Unfortunately, the eradication of voles is not easy for homeowners, nor is it completely necessary. However, if getting rid of voles is a priority, repellents or chemical lures can be effective in some cases but cannot provide one hundred percent control. Additionally, these chemical repellants should be used with caution due to subsequent effects on certain birds and other small mammals like chipmunks and squirrels.

Traditional mmousetraps(a ‘snap trap’) baited with food items and placed near the runways can also be effective in catching some voles. Nevertheless, this method does not reduce the vole population numbers significantly.

Protecting plants from voles in shrub beds can be done with a fence buried three to six inches below the soil surface and bent outward into an L shape. Above ground, the fence should be from four to 12 inches tall. Use non-rusting, one quarter inch mesh. Hardware cloth works well for this purpose.

Removing weeds, mulch and other crop litter around gardens will help protect plants. Create a bare border space around your garden or dig a trench twelve inches in depth and wide enough to step over easily to discourage voles. To learn more about weed control in mulch beds, check out helpful tips about applying pre-emergent weed control.

While getting rid of voles may be difficult, the damaged grass and plants can grow back! Once the grass begins actively growing, vole trails become less obvious. Spring fertilization helps speed the lawn’s recovery; however, minor touch up seeding may be necessary to further correct the issue.

Conclusion

One key takeaway about voles is that they prefer a location with cover. Expect to have less vole damage during mild winters with short periods of snow cover. If you are in our service area and have any questions about getting rid of voles, please feel free to call our office at 908-281-7888.

Turf Damaging Insects

There are many types of insects that can damage a lawn, but we are going to focus on a few of the most common turf damaging insects in the New Jersey.

Grubs

First of the lawn destroying insects are grubs, and they can cause substantial and costly damage in our area that requires seeding to repair.

Grubs are the sub-surface stage of beetles. There are many types of grubs found in the northeast, but as a group, the white grub is the most widespread and destructive turf insect in our area. Beetles lay their eggs in lawns. The eggs hatch and produce grubs that feed on the root system of the lawn.  The most common species of beetles that people can commonly identify is the Japanese beetle.  Beetles lay their eggs from June through the beginning of August.

The Identification of grubs is quite simple. They are a whitish cream color, accompanied by a brown head with chewing mandibles and three pairs of short jointed legs. They are usually found in a C-shaped posture.

The damaged caused by grubs can be quite extensive and is a result of the grubs chewing off roots close to the soil surface, severing the plant from the roots. A grass plant cannot survive without its roots. Signs of grub damage include thinning, yellowing, wilting and the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. The patches can increase in size and may join together to form larger areas of dead grass.

To find these turf damaging insects, go to the brown (dead areas) and pull at the grass, it comes up like a carpet. Beneath the layer of dead grass, you will be able to see grubs feeding. Secondary damage can also occur with the help of small animals, such as skunks, birds, raccoons and moles. They dig up the turf to feed on the grubs below. Below is a video that shows grubs in the lawn and how the turf pulls up like a carpet.

To avoid grubs and the damage associated with them, apply a preventative grub control in June or July. The process is quite simple; apply a grub control that waits in the soil for the grubs.  This can be applied while the beetles are laying their eggs or a little bit before they start.  The grub control product lasts in your lawn all summer long.  For more information on grubs and grub control, here is a link to our grub control.

It is also recommend that you DO NOT put out Japanese beetle traps because this attracts more beetles that could potentially lay eggs in your lawn. If you have already purchased one or multiple of these bags, we recommend to get rid of them now.  They do more harm than good because they attract more beetles than would naturally be in your yard.

Chinch Bugs

The next turf damaging insect popular to the area are chinch bugs. They can cause widespread and costly damage in home lawns.  Chinch bugs reside in the thatch layer of the lawn during the winter months, this is also referred to as overwintering. Similar to grubs and other turf insects, their damage can be permanent and require seeding to repair.

Chinch bugs typically have two generations per year and while looking you normally can spot the different stages of their life cycle. Chinch bugs start off in the egg stage, then they hatch into the nymph stage. The first nymphs are about 1mm and are bright red with a white band across their middle. The red changes to orange, then to an orange brown and finally black as the nymph’s progress. The last stage is the adult stage and adults are black with shiny white wings. There is a distinctive black spot near the margin of each forewing, and a black line extending diagonally toward the head.  It looks as though there is a white X on their back.

Chinch bugs feed by inserting their needle-like mouthparts into the crowns and stems of grasses and suck out the plant’s juices. At the same time, chinch bugs inject a toxic saliva into the plants which disrupts the flow of moisture, causing the plant to wilt and die.

Chinch bug damage can be quite extensive and costly to fix. Signs of chinch bug damage include gradual thinning, yellowing, wilting and the appearance of scattered, irregular dead patches. A chinch bug starts in one area and gradually grows outward, these patches can increase in size and may join together to form larger areas of dead grass. The dead grass does not pull up easily and the damage often times is confused with drought stress, disease or any number of other problems.

A surface insect control should be applied to stop further damage of the insect. Come the end of August, you can repair the damaged areas with seeding. Core aeration or dethatching should also be done annually to the lawn to reduce the thatch layer where the chinch bugs harbor over the winter.

Sod Webworm

The next turf damaging insect is the sod webworm, which are the larva of a moth.  They overwinters down in the soil inside their silken tunnels.  In the early spring they start to feed again, then in late May to early June they pupate in a cocoon emerging into adulthood as a moth.

The adult moths color pattern varies with each species and their size ranges from 1/2- to 3/4-inch long while sometimes having a small, dark line on the top of each wing cover. Two small, fingerlike projections are visible at the front of the head and look like a snout.  When the moth is at rest, the wings wrap around its body, giving it a tube like shape. On warm evenings you can see the moths flying low over the lawn in a zigzag pattern.  Adult females drop their eggs on to the ground while flying. These eggs then take 7 – 10 days to hatch.

Like the adult moths, the color pattern for the larva sod webworm varies with each species as well.  Most sod webworms are greenish, grayish, or brownish, and usually have dark spots scattered along their bodies. The head capsule of the larger stages of sod webworm are light brown with dark markings.

Sod webworm feeding occurs mostly at night, during this time the sod webworm emerges from its silken tunnel and chew off the leaves and stems just above the crown of the grass plant. The damage starts out looking like small yellow or brown patches gradually increasing in size. Since they are night feeders you do not see these turf insects during the day; however, upon inspection of the turf you normally are able to see their silken tunnels in the soil and a green pellet-like matter called “frass,” which is sod webworm excrement.

Control for sod webworm is easy. An insecticide should be applied and watered in to wash the insect control off of the grass blade and down into the soil where the sod webworms are located. Damage from sod webworms could be permanent and should be evaluated for seeding in late August or September.

Conclusion

If you have had an issue with insects in the past, or think you may have turf damaging insects now and are located within our service area, please feel free to contact Fairway Green Inc. with any questions or for a free evaluation and estimate for an insect control. You can call us at 908-281-7888 or request an estimate on our website.

Tick Control: Important Facts You Must Know About Ticks

It seems that ticks are getting a lot of press coverage lately due to their potential to transmit diseases such as Lyme disease and Powassan.  2017 is forecasted to have higher than normal tick populations leaving many people wondering what options they have for tick control.  In this blog, we are going to provide a broad overview on ticks and discuss methods of tick control.

What is a Tick?

Ticks are parasites that attach themselves to a host and feed on the host’s blood.  They are part of the arachnid family, meaning they have eight legs, like spiders.  Ticks are vectors of several tick-borne illnesses that affect both humans and animals.

What is the Life Cycle of a Tick?

Ticks have a four-stage life cycle.  It’s important to understand the time of year each stage occurs so that optimal tick control methods can be used to target the predominate life cycle stage.

The first stage is the egg stage.  An adult female tick will typically breed while on a host animal and then drop to the ground to lay eggs.  A female tick can lay several thousand eggs at a time, which will eventually hatch into the second stage.

The second stage is the larval stage.  At this stage a tick will be very small, less than an eighth of an inch and will only have six legs.  It will look for a host, typically mice at this stage, and feed for several days before falling off and molting into the third stage.

The third stage is the nymph stage.  At this stage a nymph tick will molt from the larval stage (having six legs) to the nymph stage (having eight legs.)  After this molting occurs it will then start looking for its next meal.  A nymph tick will prefer animals like racoons and possums, but will also attached to larger hosts, such as humans, when given the opportunity.  Like the larval stage, after it has fed for a few days, it will fall off, molt and advance to the final stage of its life.

The final stage: Adult.  At this stage the adult tick will feed for the third time on even larger animals such as deer, dogs, or humans.  This is where they will feed and breed before dropping off and laying eggs to start the cycle over again.

Where do ticks live?

Ticks prefer shady and damp areas such as wooded areas, brushy fields with tall grass, ornamental landscaping beds and leaf or wood piles around your property.  Any type of tick control application should target these areas.  Ticks do not run, jump, fly, blow through the wind or travel great distances on their own.  They travel on host animals, mainly mice and small rodents.  They are very slow moving, patient and have an incredible ability to locate their hosts/prey.  They select sites that warm-blooded mammals travel regularly to provide a better opportunity for contact with prey.  Typically, on the end of low lying branches or the tips of ornamental shrubs and plants where they can grab onto an unsuspecting host walking by.

You may occasionally find ticks in your lawn as they drop off a host, but they do not prefer to be there.  Maintained lawns typically get direct sunlight to the soil, making the habitat too dry for ticks.

What happens when a tick bites me?

You will not feel the tick actually bite you.  After they bite they can secrete anesthetic properties from their saliva resulting in the person or animal not feeling it.  Depending on the species of tick, it can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours before it feeds.  A tick will cut into the skin and then embed themselves in to the flesh. They will stay attached for several days feeding on your blood.  Small amounts of saliva from the tick may also enter the skin of the host during the feeding process.  If the tick contains a pathogen, the organism may be transmitted to the host in this way.  If the tick has fed and falls off, you may notice a small red mark and it may also itch.

How do I remove a tick safely?

Ticks that are attached to the skin should be removed as soon as possible.  Follow these tips for safe removal of a tick.

  1. Take a clean set of finely tipped tweezers. Grasp the tick by its head as close to the surface of the skin as possible.
  2. Once grasped pull the tick upwards with a steady even pressure. Do not jerk or twist the tick. This can break the mouth parts off and remain in the skin.
  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and wash your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.

What kind of diseases can ticks carry and pass on to me?

Most people are very familiar with the fact that Lyme disease can be transmitted by ticks, but over the last few months the Powassan virus has been in the spotlight.  We will start by discussing Lyme disease.

A tick must have taken an initial blood meal to transmit Lyme disease.  At least thirty-six to forty-eight hours of feeding is required to have transmitted the bacterium that causes Lyme disease to a human.  After this amount of time passes, the tick will be engorged (full of blood).  After a tick bite, monitor the area closely, if the Lyme disease was passed on from the tick to the host, a “bullseye” pattern will appear at the site of the bite.  This is a clear indication of Lyme disease and it is best to seek medical help.

Powassan virus is a rare disease that can also be transmitted by ticks.  In the past ten years, there’s been approximately 75 confirmed cases in the Northeast, three of which were in New Jersey.  The disease can cause neurological damage and even death in some cases.  Given that this year is predicted to have higher tick populations, there has been increased emphasis on tick control to reduce your chances of getting bit.

There are many other types of diseases spread by ticks.  If you are bitten by a tick, become sick soon after and you believe you or your pet has contracted an illness, you should seek professional care immediately.

Tick Control

Fairway Green Inc. offers a four-step tick control program starting in the spring and ending in the fall.  We time our tick control applications with the various stages of a tick’s life cycle to help reduce the population around your property.  The first application is a liquid treatment targeting adult ticks.  The timing of our second tick control application is in conjunction with the nymph life cycle, which is why we utilize a granular application that targets both adults and nymphs.  The third treatment is a liquid treatment that covers low lying nymphs as well as adults.  The last tick control treatment in the fall is also liquid and targets adult ticks, which is the fourth and final life stage in a tick’s life cycle.

In conjunction with regular tick control applications from a professional lawn or tree care company there are several other steps you can take in your fight against ticks.  Keep your family pets tick free with the use of tick control collars, dips or powders.  Check your animals regularly and remove any ticks you may find.  Check children and yourself thoroughly after outdoor activities.  You can also contact your local health department or a cooperative extension service in your county for more information on ticks and any health hazards associated with them.

Conclusion

Tick populations are predicted to be higher than normal this year so be sure to monitor regularly, especially if you were outside in favorable tick habitat.  If you’re interested in tick control and are in our service area, please feel free to call us at 908-281-7888 for more information.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888