What causes this and how can we control it?

The problem is moss growing in turf. See this publication for methods of managing moss in lawns!

Controlling Moss & Algae in Turf

Timothy Daly, Extension Agent, Gwinnett County
Dr. Patrick McCullough, Turf Specialist, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Originally written by Gil Landry and Tim Murphy, Crop and Soil Sciences

Image - Moss growing in turf, Rebecca Jane Lynch
Image – Moss growing in turf, Rebecca Jane Lynch

Occasionally, turfgrass areas begin to thin out and moss and algae start to form. These primitive plants develop because conditions for growing dense, healthy turf have declined.

Mosses are branched, threadlike green plants that form a tangled, thick mat over the soil. Algae are thread-like green plants that form a dense, green scum over the soil surface. Neither moss nor algae are thought to be parasitic. Both are spread by wind-blown spores and can form crusts on the soil surface that reduce air and water movement into the soil.

Factors that favor moss and algae development include wet, humid conditions and compacted soils with thin turf. Moss is more common in shady areas with infertile, acidic soils and excessive thatch; algae is more common in full sun conditions and fertile soils.

Can You Identify Formosan Subterranean Termites?

The Formosan Subterranean Termite in Georgia

Taken from this website

The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, is native to China, was accidentally introduced into the southern U.S., and has since been found in nine southern states. Since 1993, several dozen infestation sites have been found in Georgia.
Formosan termite inspectionThe Formosan termite is most commonly imported into Georgia by movement of termite-infested railroad crossties. As railroad companies replace crossties, some of the used ones are sold and re-used to build retaining walls and other landscape features. Some of the used crossties are infested with Formosan termites. The termites survive transport and become established in previously un-infested areas when the crossties are installed.Formosan termites remain extremely rare in Georgia, and the presence of railroad crossties in the landscape in no way implies the presence of the termite on one’s property.
Termite Control Technicians and Homeowners Should Learn to Recognize the Formosan Subterranean Termite

It is important that termite control professionals and homeowners be able to differentiate between Formosan subterranean termites and Georgia’s more common native subterranean termites. The primary differences in the two types of termites are in the size, color, and behavior of the swarmers and soldiers.Click on the following link to view a PDF file of the publication Identifying the Formosan Subterranean Termite.


Formosan termite swarmers are larger than native subterranean termite swarmers, measuring about one-half to five-eighths of an inch from tip of head to tip of wings, and the body is caramel-colored (native termite swarmers are black). Formosan termite wings are hairy, while native termite wings are not hairy.In Georgia, Formosan termites swarm at night in May and June and are attracted to lights, whereas native subterranean termites typically swarm during the day and are not attracted to lights.

Formosan termite soldierSoldiers

Formosan termite soldiers exude a white, glue-like secretion from the top of their head when disturbed.Most notably, however, Formosan termite soldiers make up as much as 15-25% of the termites in a colony compared with just 1-3% in a native subterranean termite colony. Formosan termite soldiers are also aggressive, and will often attempt to bite ones finger tip if challenged.

Formosan termites in cross tieMud Tubes on Crossties 

During swarm season (May and June in Georgia) Formosan termites often build extensive mud tubing on crosstie walls. Unfortunately, these mud tubes are washed away with the first rain.


To Confirm a Formosan Termite Discovery if you are a termite control professional or a homeowner and you think you have found a Formosan termite, we can confirm the termites’ identification. Please collect swarmers and/or soldiers (do not send workers), place them in a small, airtight vial filled with rubbing alcohol, and take the vial to your nearest county extension office, or contact Dr. Daniel R. Suiter on the UGA Griffin Campus at 770-233.6114.


Green Bean Basics

Green beans are an integral part of any vegetable garden.  Also called snap beans or string beans, they are not hard to grow and require little fertilization.  Whether harvested and prepared the old Southern way, cooked with a piece of bacon, or steamed with a bit of onion, they are a summer dinner staple.  This post contains great information taken from Robert Westerfield’s circular Home Garden Green Beans.

For community gardeners the first step in successfully growing green beans is to know the growing types.  Bush beans are compact and don’t need extra support to grow.  Pole beans run and do require support such as a cage or trellis (think  of growing up a pole).  Be thoughtful of using trellises in a community garden setting.  Anything tall may created unwanted shade.   Half-runner beans are somewhere in between bush and pole beans.  If they are not supported they will spread more than bush beans.  Bush beans are a great option for the limited space of a community garden.

All three types of beans grow best in air temperatures of 65-85 degrees F.  Soil temperatures should be above 55 degrees F for good germination.  One helpful tip is to soak the bean seed in warm water overnight.  This may help speed germination.

Seed should be planted about 1 inch deep.  You can do this without a ruler.  Gently push the beans seed into the soil with your index finger.  When your first knuckle is even with the soil top, that is about 1 inch.   To help prevent disease problems, be careful not to crowd the beans.  You want air movement between the plants so leave about 6 inches between seeds.

After planting, gently pat the dirt ensuring good seed to soil contact.   Keep the seeds moist until the beans emerge.  Mulching will help with that.  After the plants become established water as needed, about twice a week.

Bush Bean Patch
Bush Bean Patch

For best flavor, harvest beans before they become fully developed.  Pick often so the plant will continue to produce.  Your harvest can be stored in a cool, dry place for several days.  Or, you may want to try your hand at canning if you have alot of beans.

Some tried and true cultivars of bush beans are Blue Lake 274, Gina, Roma II, and Bronco.  If you want to be adventurous and try something different consider Mayflower, which is said to have come to America with the Pilgrims.  Or, Pencil Pod Black Snap Bean which produces black beans.   Other cultivars to consider are Stringless Commodore, October Bean, Top Crop, and Contender.   Master Gardener Extension volunteers have had success with these types.

Kentucky Wonder, Rattlesnake, Blue Lake, and McCaslan are good pole bean choices for the Southern garden.  If you are thinking of trying half-runners look at Mountaineer, Volunteer, or Peanut Bean Pink.

Seed catalogs along with feed and seed stores are full of great choices.  Try to choose seed that has been grown successfully in our area.  If you have had success with a certain cultivar, please share that information in the comments section.  For more information on cultivars for your area, contact your local UGA Extension Agent.

Happy Gardening!

Safety Checklists for New Landscape Employees

Ellen Bauske, Rolando Orellana, and Alfredo Martinez­-Espinoza

Safety pub 1These checklists can be used to introduce new landscape workers to safe work practices. They ensure that job training includes safety instruction. Before new employees start their first assignment, supervisors should discuss the items covered in the following checklists. Safe use of equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be demonstrated as the supervisor reviews the checklists. Pictures associated with each item reinforce the safety message for employees.

These checklists are based on the book Safety for Hispanic Landscape Workers which has been approved by OSHA for use in safety training. They are designed to help companies reduce incidents, stay in compliance and create a culture of safety.

Pest Professional Pop Quiz

Image taken from publication - Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home
Image taken from publication “Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home”

Drain flies (Psychodidae: Psychoda spp.): Also referred to as moth flies.

Taken from Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home


Oblong or oval, appears moth-like, and is about 3/16 inch, wings fuzzy. Larvae up to 3/8 inch.

Habits: Commonly found in bathrooms (breeds in scum in drains, showers, overflows, toilet bowls, etc.). Adults rest motionless on walls until disturbed, and then fly well. Need wet conditions to breed. When toilets have gone un-flushed for an extended period, moth flies may lay eggs in the toilet tank, and larvae can be found there. When the toilet is finally flushed, larvae can make their way into the toilet bowl, where they are discovered.

Interventions: Clean the inside of the drain of all scum and detritus using a mild cleanser and a bristled brush. Never pour insecticides into drain. Pouring bleach into drains is not effective. Make certain that the water trap in the drain line (especially common in less frequently used sinks) is filled – if the water trap dries out, flies and other pests that live in the drain lines will be able to enter the building. To help determine whether a particular drain is infested, place a clear cup,
inverted, over the drain. If flies emerge from the drain, they will be trapped by the cup, and can be seen.

Might Be Confused With: fungus gnats, humpbacked flies, fruit flies, and small moths.

Race to save Georgia’s massive hemlocks receives boost from Legacy Tree Project

Merritt Melancon, news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences

Hulking above their neighbors in the Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia’s century-old hemlocks are giants. But the relatively scarce trees are quickly being felled by the tiniest of insects — the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid.

Tiny pests, big problems

Hemlock Wooly Adelgid Conn. Ag Experiment Station Archive
Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Connecticut Ag Experiment Station Archive

The adelgid is a tiny, fluffy aphid relative that feeds by piercing the bark of hemlock trees and draining the contents of plant cells, which contain nutrients created by the tree during photosynthesis. Millions can live on one tree, and by the time they finish feeding, the tree no longer has the strength to transport water and nutrients from its roots to its branches. The pest first arrived in Georgia 10 years ago after moving south through the forests that surround the Appalachian Mountains.

To date, the adelgid has killed millions of hemlocks on the mountainsides and stream valleys of the Appalachians, from New England south to the Smokies and the north Georgia mountains. Once infested, a centuries-old tree can die within 3 or 4 years said Will Hudson, a forest entomologist with UGA Extension.

University of Georgia researchers are racing against time looking for long-term biocontrols for the nutrient-gobbling pest.They hope by preserving specimen stands of hemlocks with insecticides now, there will be enough trees left to aid in regenerating Georgia’s hemlocks once the bio-control agents are ready.

“We can’t just let a bug loose in the forest and hope it works. The requirements for testing and screening of a new biocontrol agent are — and rightfully so — really, really stringent, and it takes time. The hemlocks don’t have that time,” said Hudson.

Enter the Legacy Tree Project — a public-private partnership between UGA researchers, Valent USA, private tree care companies and several municipalities. The project’s goal is to preserve stands of hemlocks so they can regenerate once the woolly adelgid is under control.

While hemlocks make up a small percentage of the forest canopy in Georgia, they are vitally important to the forest ecosystem — especially around streams. The giant trees shade streams and stream banks and provide the cool waters that Georgia’s trout populations need to survive while sustaining the tourist economy that surrounds the trout.

In addition to the aesthetic impact of the loss of the largest trees in mountain forests, dead trees pose a threat of falling, making camping, hiking and even driving, risky.

Two solutions, one goal

The woolly adelgids can be controlled two ways. One way is through the development or discovery of biocontrol agents — predatory insects that eat adelgids, but leave the rest of the ecosystem intact. This is a painstaking process of trial and error, but will offer low-cost, long-term control.

The other method is to treat every hemlock in the forest to prevent or cure adelgid infestation. This would be prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, logistically implausible and possibly ecologically damaging.

Entomologists at UGA and the U.S. Forest Service, including recently retired UGA forest entomologist Mark Dalusky, have identified and released two predatory beetles. They hope these insects will be effectively control the adelgid without harming the forest, but neither beetle has reached the numbers needed to control the pest.

Saving trees now, so that they can be preserved later

UGA entomologists, north Georgia arborist and hemlock enthusiast Jann George and Legacy Tree Project founder Joe Chamberlin have teamed up for the effort.

Chamberlin’s company, Valent, helped launch the Legacy Tree Project in 2010 in a handful of Midwestern towns with the goal of saving ash trees from emerald ash borers. Thousands of trees were saved, and a framework for battling other invasive tree pests was developed.

Valent donates insecticide where landmark hemlocks are dying – like the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The insecticide, a dry powder mixed with water, is injected into the ground around the hemlock’s root ball and the tree slowly absorbs the material, which kills the adelgids and prevents new infestations.

“Nearly 100 percent of the chemical is absorbed by the tree, which means there is very little chance any will move into nearby streams or groundwater,” George said. “There is hope for biological controls coming down the line. But the only way to get your hemlock tree back to health, at this point, is to use chemicals.”

This is the first time that the Legacy Tree Project has worked on public land. George has worked with Young Harris, Clarkesville, Dillard and Sky Valley and saved between 10 and 15,000 hemlocks on private land.

“The problem of global trade and invasive species are here to stay,” Chamberlain said. “We only have so many well adapted native species of trees that we can rely on, and we need to maintain them. What we’re trying to do is build awareness about invasives and stimulate action to help protect native tree populations.”

For more information about the hemlock infestation in north Georgia and UGA’s research into stopping the pest, visit www.forestpests.org/.

El Nino may impact weather this summer

Original article taken from May Peanut Pointers and can be found here

The warm pool of water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean continues to move eastward, increasing chances for an El Nino to develop later this summer into fall.  In winter, El Nino causes wet and cool conditions in south Georgia as the subtropical jet stream shifts right over the state, bringing clouds and plentiful precipitation with it.  El Nino impacts in summer are more subtle and the summer weather patterns tend to be dominated by local storms rather than large-scale weather patterns.

However, we know that Atlantic hurricanes are less likely in El Nino autumns, which could be good news for farmers trying to get into their fields in fall to harvest peanuts, since with fewer storms we may experience drier conditions.   By comparison, tropical activity in the eastern Pacific Ocean is enhanced.  And sure enough, there is already some unsettled weather occurring there which might turn into the earliest eastern Pacific named storm ever if it pulls itself together.

Meanwhile, the wet spring, coupled with recurring cold fronts, have kept soil conditions far from ideal for planting.  With the warm and sunny weather this past week, however, farmers should be taking advantage of better conditions to get out into the fields and get things done.

Looking ahead, warmer and wetter than usual conditions are predicted to return May 12-16, with near normal conditions May 16-20.  As a whole, May is expected to be near normal in temperature and precipitation, and the summer has an increased chance of warmer than normal temperatures based on long-term trends.  There is no skill in predicting summer rainfall this year and there are equal chances for near, above and below normal precipitation.

(Reprinted from Peanut Pointers newsletter for May)

America’s Help Needed to Squash the Spread of USDA’s Targeted ‘Hungry Pests’

USDA’s Campaign Anti-Hero, ‘Vin Vasive,’ Lends a Creepy Hand in New, Compelling Videos

See original article here

Invasive pests 1The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) is calling on the public to help stop the spread of 15 invasive species dubbed “Hungry Pests.” These non-native insects, other animals, plants and diseases could devastate America’s crops, trees and plants, and are often unknowingly spread through human actions. To help get the word out, USDA-APHIS is deploying its Hungry Pests’ anti-hero, Vin Vasive, in a series of eerie videos that debut in April during Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.

“Hungry Pests have a tremendous impact on our economy, environment and public health,” said Osama El-Lissy, deputy administrator of USDA-APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine program. “They have already cost the U.S. billions of dollars and threaten many aspects of our everyday lives – from the food on our tables, to the forests we camp in, to the flowers in our gardens. When people are out hiking, gardening and traveling this spring and summer, we are asking them to be extra vigilant.”

El-Lissy added, “We think Vin Vasive and the videos will help drive home the messages about how people can help to ‘Leave Hungry Pests Behind.’”

With the public as a crucial line of defense against Hungry Pests, USDA-APHIS is asking everyone to take a few simple actions that can greatly reduce the spread of invasive species. These actions are:

  • Don’t move untreated firewood.
  • Buy plants, including ones online, from reputable sources.
  • Don’t bring or mail fresh fruits, vegetables or plants into your state or another state unless agricultural inspectors have cleared them beforehand.
  • Declare all agricultural items to customs officials when returning from abroad.
  • Comply with agricultural quarantines.
  • Wash outdoor gear and tires free from dirt before leaving fishing, hunting or camping trips.
  • Clean lawn furniture and other outdoor items before moving.
  • Report signs of an invasive pest or disease at www.HungryPests.com.

Vin Vasive, a man-like figure made entirely of invasive species, will make dramatic appearances in a series of five, 30-second videos created to remind people what actions they can take to prevent the spread of Hungry Pests. The edgy, attention-grabbing videos – starting with the first video, which reminds people about the importance of not moving firewood – will be shared on Facebook and YouTube throughout spring and summer, a particularly vulnerable time for America’s agriculture and forests as a surge in outdoor activity increases the spread of invasive species.

USDA’s targeted 15 Hungry Pests are putting our agriculture, forests and food supply at risk.  They include four moths (European grapevine moth, false codling moth, gypsy moth and light brown apple moth), three flies (Mediterranean fruit fly, Mexican fruit fly and Oriental fruit fly), three beetles (Asian longhorned beetle, emerald ash borer and Khapra beetle), two diseases (citrus greening, sudden oak death), the insect that spreads citrus greening (Asian citrus psyllid), one ant (imported fire ant), and one snail (giant African snail).

To learn more, go to HungryPests.com, or join the conversation on Facebook, www.facebook.com/hungrypests. The website includes photos and descriptions of the 15 Hungry Pests, an online tracker where federal quarantines are located and phone numbers to report signs of an invasive pest.


The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multifaceted federal agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues. To learn more about APHIS, visit www.aphis.usda.gov.

UGA Twitter shares sustainable landscape practices

Becky Griffin of the Center for Urban Agriculture is now on twitter.  The new UGA Twitter, UGAExtHOA, shares timely tips of interest to homeowners related to sustainable landscape practices, water conservation and septic system maintenance.  This is part of an Extension project that teaches homeowners through their associations and neighborhood civic groups.

 Visit this site to see past tweets, to Follow future tweets or to establish a Twitter account.

Garden Golden Rules

Posted rules at Tobie Grant Manor Community Garden
Posted rules at Tobie Grant Manor Community Garden

Working with other gardeners can be a rewarding experience.  Trading plants, tackling common problems, and sharing a harvest are all benefits to working as a group.  This process works best when the group develops a common set of rules and follows garden etiquette. A great publication to start with is Ellen Bauske and Robert Westerfield’s How to Start a Community Garden: Getting People Involved.

General rules common to every garden would include –  when will the garden be open?  Will there be a fee to have a plot? How is water handled?

Since each community is unique some rules will also be unique.  Things to consider when developing your own Garden Golden Rules are:

  • What if someone leaves his/her plot unattended for a period of time and it becomes overgrown and weedy?
  • Will the garden be organic or will pesticides be allowed?
  • What if someone plants a tall crop that shades other plots?
  • Will individual fencing be allowed?
  • Who is responsible for the upkeep (weeding) of the common areas and paths?
  • Will dogs be allowed?
  • What about children?

It is a good idea to develop your rules ahead of any real gardening and to put these rules on paper.  Many gardens have new members sign a copy of the rules which helps eliminate many problems and misunderstandings.  To learn more about community gardens in your area contact your local UGA Extension Agent.

Happy Gardening!