Garden Questions of the Week
“Would you recommend Merit to kill grubs, which I think the moles are after right now? Or, what should I do to get rid of the moles now?” -Merit does an excellent job on grubs, especially as a grub preventer. But trying to control grubs now can not be very effective. And if you did treat for the grubs in the soil now, it takes time for them to die and time for them to decay and in the meantime, the moles would keep feeding on them. So treating now for grubs isn’t highly recommended. BUT – as we have always said, do not treat for grubs to try and get rid of the moles! Only treat for grubs if grubs have become a problem to the lawn. Grub control is not mole control. Moles eat a lot more than grubs in our soils, with earthworms being their staple food source (they feed on all sorts of soil insects). Grubs are only a temporary source of appetizers for moles. Physical removal is the only sure cure for moles. And if you’d like, there are plenty of repellents and poisons for you to try. Visit www.themoleman.com for more mole info than you could ever ask for!
“I have a question – I had planted a 5 foot blue spruce tree last summer, one side is turning brown and dropping needles. The other side is green and growing – what should I do?” More than likely, that is winter burn – needles dry out with the winds, ground is frozen or dry and no moisture to replace, and the needles dry out. Newly planted evergreens would be most susceptible, but happens on established ones as well. Nothing you can do but wait and see if the buds are still viable and send out new growth. In the meantime, make sure it gets watered if we get into a dry spell. Keep me posted what it does.
“I have those mud tunnels popping up in our yard! Aren’t those some type of weird crayfish or something like that? What do I do?” -That’s probably the culprit! There are hundreds of species of crayfish in North America, and serve important roles in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, both as a food source for many animals and humans, as well as a consumer of plant and animal material. Crayfish are aquatic, but there are several burrowing or terrestrial species. Areas that are low-lying areas or maintain damp soils and shallow subsurface water levels best support crayfish populations. Crayfish generally emerge at night, and roam the lawn and feed on snails, algae, insect larvae, worms, tadpoles, etc, as well as looking for mates. The damages caused by crayfish in the lawn are the large amounts of muddy soil brought to the surface as they tunnel in the soils. These large mud turrets are also called chimneys, and can become very hard as they bake in the sun, which becomes a nuisance when mowing the lawn. Damages to the lawn are minimal. But multiple chimneys can be unsightly and help to dull mower blades.
Controlling Crayfish – (Crayfish may be protected by law in some states so check with your state’s Wildlife Conservation.) -Tiling the area for better drainage may help. However, if the water table is high, draining will not solve the problem. -Trapping can be effective in low populations. Wire cage traps baited with fish, chicken, or other meat may work. Live capture works as well (night time crayfish hunting), but do be cautious of those pinchers! NOTE: Where crayfish exist, so does a lot a water movement (surface and subsurface in the water tables). So do not pour poisons or homemade remedies down the burrows at will. Remember, what you put in that burrow may very well wind up in your (or the neighbor’s) water in the lawn and soil.
Just deal with them! Cope with the crayfish by allowing the area to become a natural marsh or wetland. Or why not look at them as another interesting creature in this world, like a turtle or bird, and live with them. It doesn’t take much to eliminate their mud chimneys from time to time as needed, and to be honest, their population reduction is not necessarily a good thing. Try discouraging them with habitat modification if they become a true nuisance. But otherwise, try to live with them.
(The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. -H. W. Longfellow)