Bacterium May Make Mosquitoes Less Susceptible to Dengue and Malaria

anophelesgambiaemosquito-wp2 Ent TodayTaken from 

Just like those of humans, insect guts are full of microbes, and the microbiota can influence the insect’s ability to transmit diseases. A study published in PLOS Pathogens reports that a bacterium isolated from the gut of an Aedes mosquito can reduce infection of mosquitoes by malaria parasites and dengue virus. The bacterium can also directly inhibit these pathogens in the test tube, and can shorten the life span of mosquitoes that transmit both diseases.

George Dimopoulos and colleagues from Johns Hopkins University had previously isolated Csp_P, a member of the family of chromobacteria, from the gut of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue fever. In their present study, they examined its actions on both mosquitoes and pathogens. The results suggest that Csp_P might help to fight malaria and dengue fever at different levels.

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Preparing Nursery Plants for Winter in the Southeastern United States

A new publication from UGA and other southeastern universities equips nursery workers (and others) to protect container and dug plants from freezing temperatures. The publication explains winter acclimatization and how cultural practices (pruning, watering, fertilization, etc.) can impact cold hardiness. The publication also discusses the types of winter injury and methods to protect plants from winter temperatures.

Find the publication online here.

The following is a brief list of some of the Strategies and Techniques to Protect Plants

  1. Push pots together in large blocks.
    1. Wrap outside edge of plants with microfoam, spunbond nonwoven polyester material, or pine straw bales to protect from wind. No protection on inside containers.
    2. Mulch in and around plants on the inside of the block using:
      i. Newspaperwinter protection
      ii. Pine straw, hay, or some other grain
      iii. Leaves or other composted material
    3. Cover blocks of plants with microfoam or spunbond nonwoven polyester fabric.
      i. Cover fabric with white polyethylene.
      ii. Use mulches under the fabric.
  2. Overwinter plants inside a quonset-style greenhouse or similar structure.
    1. Place single-layer white poly cover on house.
      i. Push plants close together with no further protection.
      ii. Cover plants inside structure with microfoam or spunbond nonwoven polyester.
      iii. Heal plants in with mulch.
    2. Place double-layer white poly cover on house with inflator fan to create an insulating dead-air space between plastic covers.
      i. Also cover plants with microfoam or spunbond nonwoven polyester.
      ii. Provide an independent heat source inside the house:

      1. Portable forced-air heater that runs on fuel or electricity
      2. Permanent propane, electric, or wood-fired heater

Note: Organization of ideas based on Dunwell and McNeill, 2009.

Insect pests invade Georgia homes in the fall

There are several insect pests that try to invade homes in the fall looking for over-wintering sites. Two are relatively new introductions to Georgia.

Kudzu bug Suiter AmesKudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria): Wider posterior than anterior, about 3/16 to 1/4 inch. Red eyes, green to brown body with stipples present on wing covers. Distinct odor.

Habits: Flies to light-colored surfaces (buildings and automobiles), from nearby kudzu patches, in October/November as it looks for overwintering sites. Active again in Spring (February to April) as it awakes from Winter slumber. Native to Asia, was discovered in Georgia (and the Western Hemisphere) for the first time in October 2009. Feeds on kudzu as well as other legumes, including soybeans.

Interventions: Before kudzu bugs begin to move (October), take action to (1) seal all cracks 1/8 wide or wider, and (2) spot spray around all potential entry points with an appropriately labeled residual spray. Reapply insecticide treatments, per label specifications, through the end of November. Interventions should be implemented early enough (mid-September) so that preventative measures are in place before the onset of kudzu bug movement. In Summer, remove kudzu if possible. It is especially important to make sure all windows are screened, that doors remain closed, and doorsweeps are installed on all exterior doors. As temperatures decline into the Winter months kudzu bugs become less of a nuisance.

For more information see University of Georgia Extension circular #991, Megacopta cribraria as a Nuisance Pest.

Might Be Confused With: lady beetles, brown-marmorated stink bugs.


BMSB Suiter AmesBrown-Marmorated Stink bugs (Pentatomidae: Halyomorpha halys): Brown marbled- or mottled-colored stinkbug, 5/8 inch, adults with distinctive white-banded antennae.

Habits: First discovered in northwest Georgia in 2010, this invasive Asian species was first reported in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 1996. An important agricultural pest of fruit crops as well as row crops and vegetables. Like the kudzu bug, boxelder bug, and multicolored Asian lady beetle, this bug is attracted to homes in the Fall in search of overwintering sites, sometimes in large numbers.

Interventions: Follow suggestions under section titled Proactive Pest Management, especially the installation of doorsweeps and screens. Before brown-marmorated stink bugs begin to seek refuge indoors (Fall), take action to (1) seal all cracks 1/8 wide or wider, and (2) spot spray around all potential entry points with an appropriately labeled residual spray. Reapply insecticide treatments, per label specifications, through the end of November. Interventions should be implemented early enough (mid-September) so that preventative measures are in place before the onset of stink bug migration indoors. It is especially important to make sure all windows are screened, that doors remain closed, and doorsweeps are installed on all exterior doors. If bugs get inside the best solution is to vacuum them. Insecticide treatments indoors are not recommended. If bugs die inside walls or in attics their carcasses can accumulate and attract other insects that eat them, especially carpet beetles.

Might Be Confused With: kudzu bugs, lady beetles.

What are these large spiders found in the landscape?

The picture is of a Yellow Garden Spider which are often seen in the landscape in late summer and fall. Read on to learn more about this and another fall spider.

Late Summer & Autumn Spiders

Nancy C. Hinkle, UGA Department of Entomology 

Between now and Halloween we will be seeing more spiders around our yards.  The first hard frost will kill them off. Now they are mating and producing egg sacs so their eggs can overwinter and re-establish the population next spring.  There are two orb-weaver spiders with large webs that are most commonly seen.

Barn spiders (Araneus cavaticus) can be found on porches, where flying insects attracted to porch lights get trapped in their webs.  These spiders are nocturnal, constructing a new web every evening and taking it down before dawn.  This rusty brown spider has legs extending about 2 inches, making it look large and noticeable.  These spiders hide during the day, but at night are found in the middle of the web, waiting for insects to be trapped.

The yellow garden spider (Argiope aurantia) is one of the longest spiders we have here in Georgia.  It is frequently found in gardens and around shrubbery where it constructs large webs to entrap flying insects.  The abdomen has distinctive yellow and black markings while the front part of the body, the cephalothorax, is covered in white.

The female yellow garden spider typically remains in one spot throughout her life, repairing and reconstructing her web as it is damaged and ages.  Her web may have a distinctive zigzag of silk through the middle, explaining its other common name, “writing spider.”  Unlike the nocturnal barn spider, the yellow garden spider can be found in its web anytime.  Sometimes a smaller spider will be found in the web with her; this is the male garden spider.

These spiders have been present all summer, eating pest insects and growing.  By late summer they are large enough that people start noticing them.  Remember,Georgia has over 800 species of spiders, all of which are harmless if you leave them alone.  All spiders are more afraid of you than you are of them.

For more information:

Call your local Extension Agent at (800) ASK-UGA1 or locate your local Extension Office.

Stinging and Biting Pests of People

Golden Garden Spiders

Pest Management Handbook Follow all label recommendations when using any pesticide

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in Georgia

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in Georgia

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in GeorgiaThis week is Halloween and no doubt you have seen the beautiful pumpkins for sale at your local stores or even church yards.  As a gardener you may want to grow your own pumpkins for next Halloween.  Be aware that it is a challenge to grow pumpkins in the Atlanta area that mature at the end of October. The disease and insect pressure is high.  It will take some planning and diligence on your part.   Most of the pumpkins that are sold in stores and church yards are imported from the dry western states.  If that information hasn’t “spooked you” or “rattled your bones” then plan for growing your own Halloween pumpkin for 2015.

Growing Pumpkins

Commercial Production and Management of Pumpkins and Gourds will give you some background and let you see what the commercial growers are up against.  This publication also has a great list of pumpkin cultivars for Georgia.

Botanically, pumpkins are related to squash plants.  And, they come in many sizes and colors from mini orange pumpkins to small white pumpkins to the giant, fair-winning pumpkins.  When deciding what cultivar to grow, think about what size you want.  The mini and small pumpkins, under about 5 pounds, make great decorations.  Cultivars used for making pumpkin pies are usually 5-10 pounds.  The typical jack-o-lantern size is about 10-25 pounds.  In Georgia, we just don’t have great luck growing the super large pumpkins that win national prizes for size.  The disease and insect pressure is just too great.

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in Georgia

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in Georgia
Notice the mesh sling on this trellised pumpkin. This helps prevent the fruit from pulling away from the vine.

Pumpkin plants need rich soil with a pH of 6.5-6.8.  Add compost to your bed before planting seeds.  Don’t just take out your early spring crop and plant your pumpkin seeds.  Direct sow your seeds about 1 inch deep.  MULCH! Pumpkin seeds need to be in the ground between the middle of May and the end of July, depending on your cultivar choice, in order to be ready to harvest for Halloween.  (See the “Determining Planting Dates” post from September 17th.)  Some plants have more vines than others but you probably want to plan for space.  Some growers use a trellis system for the mini or smaller pumpkins.

Pumpkin Problem Control

Pumpkins are plagued with disease and insect pressure in Georgia; trellising may help here.  Vine borers can attack pumpkin plants (see July 30th post on vine borer control).  Also, powdery mildew is a real problem for Georgia.  Powdery mildew is a fungus that  appears as a dusty white coating of the tops of leaves.  This fungus thrives in warm, humid conditions – what we typically have when Halloween pumpkins are growing.  There are cultivars such as Magic Lantern that show some powdery mildew resistance.  And, there are some fungicides available to help as well.   Be diligent in scouting your pumpkin patch to spot, and handle, diseases and insects early.  Use your local UGA Extension agent as a resource.  He/she can help identify any disease or insect problems.

To have a few really showy pumpkins on your vines, thin some of the very early forming fruits.  The plant will put its energy towards those few pumpkins.  Once the pumpkins have formed you may want to roll them occasionally to prevent soft spots where the fruit touches the ground.  Be careful not to snap the pumpkin off the vine as you roll.  Many growers put extra mulch, even newspaper under the pumpkins to prevent the fruit from direct contact with the ground.

Growing Halloween Pumpkins in Georgia

Armed with this knowledge you will be ready to tackle pumpkin growing next spring.  May your Halloween be filled with treats and no tricks!

Happy Halloween!

Carpet beetles can be more common in the fall

Carpet beetle from pubThis pest is a carpet beetle – adult and larvae. See this information from Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home

Carpet beetles (Dermestidae: Anthrenus spp.): Adults 1/16 to 1/8 inch, ovalshaped, and calico colored. Larvae 1/8 inch, hairy, oval-shaped, slow-moving, and cryptic.

Habits: Most homes are populated by a small number of carpet beetles, but because they are somewhat cryptic (slow moving, small, and inconspicuous) they are rarely seen. Larvae, but not adults, feed on products in the home that are of animal origin (feathers, wool, fur, hair, silk, skins, dry animal food, etc.) but will also feed on dead insects (found on window sills, in wall voids, and in light fixtures). Carpet beetles do not consume modern shirts and carpets, as they are made from cotton or synthetic fibers. Adults feed on pollen outdoors.

Interventions: Find infested article(s) and remove. Vacuum insects and discard bag, and especially watch for re-infestation. Wash, steam-clean or dry-clean all items of animal origin, especially wool. Have infested textiles professionally cleaned. If desired, apply a spot treatment with an appropriately labeled residual spray to the floor around the infested item(s).

Might Be Confused With: warehouse beetle (Dermestidae: Trogoderma variabile), bed bugs.

For information on these and other insects see Management of Pest Insects in and Around the Home

Keeping the “Community” in Your Georgia Community Garden

A shaded seating area at Green Meadows Community Garden in Cobb County.
A shaded seating area at Green Meadows Community Garden in Cobb County.

Community Gardens are filled with gardeners.  And, although it is fun to sweat together as you work along side each other, it is also fun to fellowship and socialize.  You already have something important in common with these folks – you love the adventure of growing food.  Gardeners can layout the overall space to encourage some socializing.  Consider adding a simple table and chairs or just some chairs under a shade tree.  An old picnic table also works.  So, after the work is done you all can share some sweet tea and talk shop!

Seating for gardeners at the Carver Garden in Atlanta
Seating for gardeners at the Carver Garden in Atlanta

Some community gardens like to reach out to the non-gardeners in the area.  One garden in Atlanta hosts a First Fruits dinner each spring. They invite people outside the garden who have helped them throughout the year.  The person who donated mulch and the volunteer who assisted the senior gardeners weed get an invitation to a feast.  Most of the food prepared is grown in the garden and it is prepared mostly by older Southern women.  Those ladies can cook!

Healthy Life Garden Shaded Seating Area
Healthy Life Garden Shaded Seating Area

Another idea is to invite public servants, police officers or firefighters, out to the garden for an “open garden”.  You can show off your hard work while making people aware the garden is there.  Your local elected officials may enjoy a garden tour as well.  After all, your garden is an asset to the neighborhood.  You may be able to send these visitors home with some garden fresh vegetables!  Contact your local UGA Extension Agent for possible ideas here.

Watermelon cuttings, guest speakers, even book clubs in the garden are all ways to fellowship.  However  you decide to make sure you have “community” in your garden is a reflection of your unique neighborhood.  Just make sure it is not all work and no play!

Happy Gardening!

References on Colony Collapse Disorder

Bee Health –

CCD Working Group –

The Managed Pollinator CAP after Three Years: Highlights and Emerging Trends –

Pathogen Loads Higher in Bee Colonies Suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder –

Silence of the Bees – Update on Colony Collapse Disorder (PBS Nature – Oct. 2007)

CCD for Growers of Bee Pollinated Crops –

UGA beekeeping website –

Researchers honing in on bee colony collapse disorder –

Science collapse disorder the real story behind neonics and mass bee deaths –

Honey bee losses are unsustainable USDA survey finds –

Varroa Mite Reproductive Biology –

5 things that probably aren’t killing honeybees and 1 thing that definitely is –

Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress –

Pesticide Toxicity Profile: Neonicotinoid Pesticides –

Researchers Find Bacteria in Raw Honey that Could Replace Antibiotics

September 9, 2014 by

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey that produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds. These lactic acid bacteria were tested on severe human wound pathogens — such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) — and the lactic acid bacteria counteracted all of them.

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What are the best methods to prevent annual bluegrass in turf?

Pre-emergence Annual Bluegrass Control in Turf

Patrick McCullough, Extension Weed Specialist, University of Georgia

Edited from a more complete article which can be found here.

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua L.) is a problem winter annual weed.  Contrary to its name, both annual (live for one season) and perennial (live for many seasons) populations of annual bluegrass may be found in turf.

Annual bluegrass seed germinates in late summer/early fall once soil temperatures fall below 70° F.  Annual bluegrass may out-compete other turf species during late fall and early spring.  Annual bluegrass often dies from summer stresses but may survive if irrigated – especially the perennial biotypes.

Cultural Control of Annual Bluegrass

Irrigate deeply and infrequently to encourage turfgrass root development and improve the ability of turf to compete with annual bluegrass.  Overwatering, especially in shady areas, may encourage annual bluegrass invasion.

Avoid soil compaction.  Core aerate during active turf growth to encourage quick recovery.  For cool-season grasses, time aerfications before annual bluegrass germinates.

Reduce nitrogen fertilization during peak annual bluegrass germination and periods of vigorous growth.  Fertilizing dormant turfgrasses when annual bluegrass is actively growing may make infestations worse.

Use the proper mowing height, frequency, and equipment for your turfgrass (Table 1).  Raise the turf mowing height during peak annual bluegrass germination.

Mow turfgrass frequently during periods of vigorous growth to prevent scalping.  Returning clippings recycles nutrients to the soil but clippings may need to be removed when annual bluegrass is producing seedheads to reduce the spread of viable seed.

Prevention Using Pre-emergence Herbicides (See Table 2)

Preemergence herbicides may prevent annual bluegrass establishment from seed.  However, preemergence herbicides will not eradicate established plants and will not effectively control perennial biotypes of annual bluegrass from spreading vegetatively.  Application timing of preemergence herbicides for annual bluegrass control is very important.  Herbicides must be applied in late summer/early fall before annual bluegrass germination.  A second application can be applied in winter to control later germinating plants.  Fall applied preemergence herbicides should not be used if reseeding or resodding is needed to repair areas of damaged turf within several months after herbicide applications.

Several preemergence herbicides used for summer annual weed control will effectively control annual bluegrass in fall and winter (Table 2).  Fall applications of herbicides such as bensulide (Betasan), dithiopyr (Dimension), flumioxazin (Sureguard), oxadiazon (Ronstar, Starfighter), pendimethalin (Pendulum, others), and prodiamine (Barricade, others) may effectively control annual bluegrass.  Indaziflam (Specticle) provides excellent preemergence control of annual bluegrass and also provides early-postemergence control as well.  Indaziflam is only labeled in warm-season turfgrasses but may provide greater application timing flexibility than dinitroaniline herbicides in fall.

Combination herbicide products are also available which may improve efficacy of applications.  These products include oxadiazon plus bensulide (Anderson’s Crab and Goose), oxadiazon plus prodiamine (Regalstar), and benefin plus oryzalin (Team 2G or Team Pro).  Many preemergence herbicides are available under a wide variety of trade names and formulations and turf mangers should carefully read label directions before applications.

Atrazine (Aatrex, Purge, others) and simazine (Princep, WynStar, others) are labeled for centipedegrass, zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass and bermudagrass.  Atrazine can be applied to actively growing and dormant centipedegrass or St. Augustinegrass but bermudagrass can be injured if treated while actively growing.  Both herbicides have excellent preemergence activity on annual bluegrass but soil residual is generally shorter (four to six weeks) compared to aforementioned herbicides.  Several atrazine products are restricted use pesticides and turf managers should check labels for further information before use.

Mesotrione (Tenacity) is labeled for use in centipedegrass, perennial ryegrass, St. Augustinegrass (sod production only), tall fescue, and dormant bermudagrass (Table 2).  Mesotrione may be applied during establishment of these grasses (except bermudagrass) and effectively controls annual broadleaf and grassy weeds.  Preemergence applications of mesotrione control or suppress annual bluegrass but postemergence use is ineffective for control of established plants.  Mesotrione may be applied in tank-mixtures with atrazine or simazine on centipedegrass to improve efficacy of applications.

Most preemergence herbicides will provide similar initial efficacy if applied before annual bluegrass germination and sufficient rain or irrigation is received.  Preemergence herbicides require incorporation from irrigation or rainfall so that weeds may absorb the applied material.  In order to effectively control annual bluegrass, preemergence herbicides must be concentrated in the soil seedbank.  Retention on leaf tissue can be avoided by irrigating turf immediately after application for effective soil incorporation and herbicide activation.

Preemergence herbicide applications on non-irrigated sites have less potential for residual control, compared to irrigated turf, from product loss, poor soil incorporation, and failure to activate the herbicide.  Practitioners should return clippings on non-irrigated sites to help move potential herbicides remaining on leaf tissue to the soil.  If clippings are collected as part of routine maintenance, practitioners should consider returning clippings until at least half to one inch of rainfall is received.  Granular products may also be applied to non-irrigated sites for better soil incorporation than liquid formulations.  Granular products may be easier to handle and apply with less equipment necessary than sprayable formulations.  Granular herbicides should be applied when morning dew is no longer present to avoid interference from leaf tissue.

Managing Herbicide Resistance

Repeated use of one herbicide chemistry may control annual bluegrass but resistance may develop.  Herbicide resistance is the survival of a segment of the population of weeds following a herbicide dosage lethal to the normal population.  Resistance occurs from repeated use of the same herbicide or mode of action over years and may be a concern with annual bluegrass.

Triazine herbicides, atrazine and simazine, have been repeatedly used for years due to the wide spectrum of weeds controlled as pre- or postemergence treatments in warm-season grasses.  Resistance in weed populations has been reported with these herbicides which may contribute to inconsistent efficacy for annual bluegrass control in turf.  Resistance to sulfonylureas has been reported in numerous weed species and repeated use in turfgrasses may also contribute to resistance in annual bluegrass populations.

Preemergence chemistries, such as the dinitroanalines, (benefin, oryzalin, pendamethalin and prodiamine) may have resistance among weed populations from repeated use over years.  Turf managers should rotate preemergence herbicides from dinitroanilines to other modes of action to minimize resistance in annual bluegrass populations.  Herbicides to consider in rotation programs from dinitroanilines would include indaziflam, ethofumesate, or oxadiazon.  These chemistries offer a different mode of action than dinitroanilines but cost, label restrictions, and turfgrass tolerance may be limiting factors for using these products.  Combination herbicides are also available, such as oxadiazon + prodiamine (Regalstar) and oxadiazon + bensulide (Anderson’s Crab and Goose), with more than one mode of action that effectively control annual bluegrass in turf.

Table 1.  Mowing requirements for commercial turfgrasses.

Mowing Requirements for Turfgrasses
Species Mower Type Height (inches) Frequency (days)
    Common Rotary/reel 1 to 2 5 to 7
    Hybrid Rotary/reel 0.5 to 1.5 3 to 4
Centipedegrass Rotary 1 to 2 5 to 10
Perennial Ryegrass Rotary/reel 0.5 to 2 3 to 7
St. Augustinegrass Rotary 2 to 3 5 to 7
Tall Fescue Rotary 3 5 to 7
Zoysiagrass Reel 0.5 to 2 3 to 7


Table 2.  Efficacy of preemergence herbicides for annual bluegrass control in commercial turfgrasses.

Common Name Trade Name (Examples) Efficacy
atrazine Aatrex, various E
benefin Balan, others E
bensulide Betasan, others F
dithiopyr Dimension G
ethofumesate Prograss G-E
flumioxazin Sureguard G
indaziflam Specticle E
mesotrione Tenacity F
oryzalin Surflan, others G
oxadiazon Ronstar, others G
pendimethalin Pendulum, others G
prodiamine Barricade, others E
pronamide Kerb E
simazine Princep, others E

E = Excellent (90 to 100%), G = Good (80 to 89%), F = Fair (70 to 79%), P = Poor (<70%).

For more information

Annual Bluegrass Control in Residential Turfgrass

Annual Bluegrass Control in Non-Residential Commercial Turfgrass