Dusting dirt: what is it and how do you spray to remove it? – Washington Daily News

This time of year, with each passing hot day, a hot topic has been the spraying of herbicides on residential lawns. I answered this question three times this week. We have many tools that we can “spray”, much like saying, “There’s an app for that”, we have “-icides” for many of the pests that harass us. We have pesticides, acaricides, bactericides, fungicides, herbicides and insecticides, there is something to blow your mind! So what is all this?

Some are self-explanatory like pesticides. It is a generic term used to describe any substance or mixture of substances intended to prevent, destroy, repel or mitigate any harmful organism (EPA definition). This term encompasses all of the “-icides” above.

How do you know what to spray for this? The first step to mitigating a pest problem is knowing what you’re dealing with through identification. Is it a disease problem in your tomato field? You need to know: is it a fungal disease, a bacterial disease or a viral disease. Of the diseases we treat in the vegetable garden, approximately 80% are fungal, 15% bacterial and 5% viral. You cannot cure disease, so it is important to use fungicides or bactericides to prevent disease before it occurs. Just like humans, viruses in the vegetable garden have no cure or prevention.

Is it an insect or a mite? Many insects you find in your garden are not harmful, many are beneficial. When we spray a broad-spectrum insecticide, we kill the auxiliaries leaving our garden with more problems than at the beginning! For this reason, we need to make sure which “-icide” we need and for which pest we need it. Broad-spectrum and systemic insecticides kill all insects in most cases and should be used with great caution. There are less potent chemicals such as insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils that will help us get rid of the “bad bugs” while protecting the “good bugs”. This is called integrated pest management.

Herbicides on lawns at this time of year are a touchy subject. If it’s hot, above 85°F, and you’re spraying, you’re most likely going to injure your grass. Many formulations will advise you not to use them above 85°-90°F, but you won’t know that until you read the label. This can be critical to the success of the chemical and the health of your lawn.

Another very good practice is to use all the chemical solution at once. These chemicals break down very quickly once mixed. The effectiveness of the solution will also decrease very quickly. Sunlight, air and water all affect how long the formulation is effective. The pH of the water you mix the solution with will have a huge influence on the effectiveness of the product and how long the solution lasts. You can have your water tested through the NCDA&CS Agronomy Lab in Raleigh for a cost of $5. This is especially important if you are using well water.

Consideration should also be given to pollinators when spraying insecticides. One out of every three bites of food we eat requires animal pollination. I don’t know about you, but I like to eat fruits and fresh produce. One thing you can do is read a product’s entire label before using it. Look for the Bee icon on the label to ensure the product is safe for bees and other pollinators. There are other ways to protect bees when spraying. Spray early morning or late evening when bees are not active. In spring and fall, spraying when the temperature is below 55° will also keep the bees safe. They are not active at these temperatures.

Do your research and make sure you are using the right “icide” for your problem. Always read and follow the label, it’s the law, your safety may depend on it too.

If you have a problem in your garden or landscape, send your questions to Gene Fox, Consumer Horticulture Officer with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Email Gene at [email protected] or call (252)946-0111. Learn more on Facebook at the Blacklands Area Horticulture page or visit the Extension Office located at 155 Airport Road in Washington, NC.

Comments are closed.