Homegrown: White moths, sumac shrubs


Adele Israel’s SustainAbility column is unavailable this week.

It will return in the coming weeks.

I noticed small white moths in my lawn and some type of spider webs.

Is there anything I can do about them?

— Catherine

Those small white moths are usually the adult form of sod webworm.

The larval stage of this insect feeds on the grass blades (usually at night) occasionally causing irregular thin or dead patches in the lawn.

There are other moths that this could be which aren’t damaging to the grass.

One sure sign that you have webworm is the presence of flocks of birds (usually starlings) foraging in groups in the lawn.

The fact that you have these in the lawn isn’t a reason to hit the panic button. I’d bet that there are sod webworms in most of the lawns in the Grand Valley but they’re not numerous enough to cause damage.

I only recommend control treatments if damage is occurring in the grass and, before starting webworm control, you want to make sure that it is webworm that’s doing the damage.

We’re seeing lots of fungal disease and chinch bug damage going on right now with white grub starting up pretty soon.

In fact, I don’t consider webworm all that big of a problem. It’s fairly rare for a lawn to be damaged by them.

Keep an eye on the lawn, and if some yellowing or browning starts to show up, find out what’s causing it and then respond.

Otherwise, I’d just ignore them.

The spider webs are small ground spiders, usually called funnel weavers or grass spiders.

They’re not harmful and actually perform a great deal of benefit by preying on other insects.

I’m probably the last person to be saying this because I hate spiders with a passion rarely seen in normal humans, but you shouldn’t work at controlling them.

My daughter in Denver would like to plant a snowball bush, a honeysuckle bush and an English rose.

Should she wait for lower temperatures even if these bushes are in 5-gallon containers?

— Leah

Actually, if the plants are in a container (as most are these days), your daughter could plant them any time she wants.

When you plant a container plant, you’re not disturbing the roots; you just slide it out of the pot and into the ground.

Since you’re not disturbing the roots, there’s really no transplant shock. It doesn’t matter if it’s 32 degrees or 102 degrees, the plant is just changing addresses and keeps chugging along.

Our landscaping crews plant from February until December in a typical year with great success.

The only bad thing about planting in summer is that it’s a little harder on the “digger” with the heat.

We have a very aggressive sumac shrub in our yard that has spread from our landscaping rocks into our lawn. I want to completely eradicate it.

What is the process and when is the best time of year to do it?

— David

The best way to do this is to cut down the stems of the plant and paint the freshly cut ends with Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer.

You apply it full strength to the end of the stem and let it absorb.

If you have any stumps that are big enough, you can also drill some holes into the end of the stump and fill them up with the stump killer. Use a pretty good sized drill bit, say 3/4 inch or so, and drill a series of holes around the circumference of the stump just a bit inside of the bark.

Drill them deeply enough so that you’re into live, fresh wood. Then just fill the holes up with the stump killer.

Dennis Hill is the nursery manager at Bookcliff Gardens, http://www.bookcliffgardens.com. Send questions to Bookcliff Gardens, 755 26 Road, Grand Junction 81506; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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