The Rugose Spiraling Whitefly (fka The Gumbo Limbo Spiraling Whitefly)

Spiraling Whitefly

Image courtesy of UF IFAS extension

Hold on to your hats Florida – we have another bug to fight: The Rugose Limbo Spiraling Whitefly!

Sadly, this is a new kind of whitefly and should not be confused with the Ficus Whitefly that has been causing havoc with ficus in South Florida. This new Spiraling Whitefly appears to be less particular, feasting on everything from palm trees to fruits. There has not been much biology collected on this little pest as it was seen for the first time in March 2009 (from gumbo limbo, hence its former name), but University of Florida’s IFAS Extension is monitoring the spread and will hopefully have more information as time goes by.

 

Identification
Larger than other whiteflies, this species is slower too. They congregate on the underside of leaves and lay eggs in spiral patterns. The whitefly leaves an “abundance of the white, waxy material covering the leaves and also excessive sooty mold. Like other similar insects, these whiteflies will produce honeydew, a sugary substance, which causes the growth of sooty mold.” (UF IFAS extension). PALM has seen this mold on palm leaves overhanging pools, and causing damage to the pool. UF mentions that it has also been seen to cause damage to cars should it fall on the roof.

Management

There are two ways to manage this pest: insecticides and biologically-based management, i.e. other bugs (parasitoid) that will attack the fly. It is important to balance both methods carefully as the parasitoid cannot attack the whitefly fast enough to save your plants, but insecticides could kill the parasitoid, which will make your life harder in the long run.

The first step is to monitor your plants. The fly will propagate quickly, so finding the symptoms before you have a full-blown infestation will help to overcome the issue. Nearby trees and plants should also be carefully assessed for damage and signs of the fly.

If you suspect the fly has found its way on to one of your plants, insecticidal soap can be enough to rid you of the fly. But you need to be sure to soak the plant well and wipe off all of the leaves. Obviously, this method is only effective before the fly has spread to more than one plant.

If you see the whitefly in more than one spot, use one of the insecticides listed below. We recommend a good dousing of the insecticide, but should you find it necessary to spray more than once, we recommend you switch to a different class of insecticide for the second spraying. Any kind of insecticide can be detrimental to your environment, as well as the environment at large, so hopefully one good spraying will be sufficient.

If you have the whitefly and can’t rid yourself of it, or don’t know where to start, you know who does? That’s right – Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance! Give us a call or drop us an email: (954) 938-1999 or
Admin@PalmAtlanticLandscape.com

Whitefly insecticides

Pretty Plants that will deter mosquitoes

Mosquito Season

It’s mosquito season and I for one hate rubbing DEET all over myself, not to mention my kids. And jumping in and out of the pool, the sprays can’t stay on anyway. The other common choice, Citronella in the form of candles, is a little less gruesome because it’s not all over me, but for that same reason, it’s not as effective. But there is a third solution that isn’t stinky or greasy and is even more effective because it deters the bugs for the season not just the day. What is it? Well, the best way to ramp up your repellent is to plant it, and just because the mosquitoes hate these plants, doesn’t make them repellent to humans. In fact, there are some beautiful and useful options.

Before I get into the list, it’s worth mentioning that any standing water areas (especially stagnant water, like old fountains, old planting pots, etc.) are like the Hilton of Mosquito World. Get rid of water as much as possible before starting your planting war against bugs.

For more info on catnip, visit catnipexpert.com

1. Catnip

Catnip has been found to be ten times more repellent to the bugs than DEET! The essential oil in the catnip is the same oil that attracts cats and drives them bonkers! Luckily it’s not so potent that you’ll end up with no mosquitoes, but the whole neighborhood’s cat population in your yard! To drive the cats crazy you need to smash the leaves (store bought catnip is dried leaves crushed). Strangely, catnip is a butterfly and bumble bee attractor, so you get the best of all worlds with this plant.

Catnip is good to grow in Zones 3 and 4, so for those of us in the south, catnip will only survive if we plant it in pots and keep it somewhat shaded and watered. If you are growing from seeds, keep cats away until it’s hardy enough to withstand being rubbed!

 

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

Rosemary from wikimedia.org

2. Rosemary

Rosemary can grow into massive bushes with pretty purple flowers. It’s hardy, but doesn’t like being in cold weather or inside, which makes it perfect for summer bug season. Keep it near the barbecue and it can work double duty by seasoning your meat (Lamb and rosemary skewers anyone?) and keeping you bug bite free too!

 

 

Lemon Balm - found at plantoftheweek.org

3. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is not quite as pretty as Rosemary (it looks kind of weedy, a little bit like mint), but it gives off a lemony scent (who’da thunk?) that is sweet and not too strong… and mosqitoes seem to hate it! There are a ton of different recipes using lemon balm so it’s just as useful as rosemary. This lavender lemonade recipe sounds so good after a day of lying in the sun or lazing by the pool.

 

Thyme - taken from home.howstuffworks.com

4. Thyme

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb, loved in Greek food and this idea alone conjurs up images of Santorini with cool breezes and tomatoes with feta cheese drenched in oil and vinegar. Nowhere in my imagining is there a mosquito biting my ankle.

Thyme does have a pretty scent which is a little stronger than the previous plants I mentioned, so you might want to use it sparingly, or plant it further away (think perimeter of your property) with the previous plants closer to your home. Yet again, thyme is a hardy plant. It likes warmer weather and full sun (all of these plants are perfect for summers, but may not last the winter in a colder climate.)

Thyme is pretty – it looks like lavender with little purple flowers.

Garlic plant. Image from thedailygreen.com

5. Garlic

Mosquitoes are vampires, vampires hate garlic therefore mosquitoes hate garlic. That’s logic right?

Garlic is not necessarily the prettiest of plants, and is probably the hardest to grow out of this list, but it has more health benefits and possibly more use than any of the others too.

 

 

Rain Barrels: The What, Where, When, Why and How?

A Rain Barrel from Plow+hearth

Image Courtesy of Plow+Hearth


What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is a system that collects and stores rainwater from your roof that would otherwise be lost to runoff and diverted to storm drains and streams.

Usually a rain barrel is composed of a 55 gallon drum, a vinyl hose, PVC couplings, a screen grate to keep debris and insects out, and other off-the-shelf items, a rain barrel is relatively simple and inexpensive to construct and can sit conveniently under any residential gutter down spout. Put very simply, a rain barrel catches water that is usually lost so that you can use that water for plants and grass.

Why use one?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 40% of household water is used on lawn and yard watering. A rain barrel will save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months. Beyond the obvious cost savings on your water bill, a rain barrel also provides water that is better for your landscaping. According to JDNews from North Carolina, “Salt is not good for your plants. Salt will start to build up in the soil and make it harder for plants to grow and it becomes harder for the plants to take the moisture out of the soil. There is very little salt in rainwater.”  In addition, water in South Florida can contain high levels of chlorine and/ or limestone which can damage your plants and, in the case of the chlorine, damage fish and wildlife as part of the run off.

Where do I get one?

You can make one yourself quite simply. But, if you’re not feeling handy, there are many places selling them, both locally and online, including:

•      Ace Hardware: 866-290-5334

•      Gaiam produces the Great American Rain Barrel, 877-989-6321

•      Plow & Hearth: 800-494-7544

•      Rain Barrel Source: 866-912-9719

How do I install it?

The rain barrel is quite simple to install, the more important part of installation is ensuring the water has a run off spot in case the barrel fills up.

1. Place the barrel on a secure flat surface (a concrete slab rather than soil) next to your gutter run off. You may need to install or remove a piece of piping in case the spout doesn’t run off directly above the barrel. Here are instructions for doing just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel

2. Make sure the spout sits directly above the barrel.

3. Finish the installation by diverting the run off away from your house. This is most important as the run off could damage your foundations if it’s a constant source of water sitting in one spot. Here is a video on how to do just that: http://bit.ly/PALMbarrel2

When should I use it?

In South Florida, we can use rain barrels almost all year round. You will need to take care that the barrel doesn’t freeze and crack in truly cold times, but this is South Florida, so that might be only one or two days a year! Considering installation is simple, cost to purchase is minimal and the fact that a rain barrel can preserve your lawn with no additional cost to you year round AND help to save our environment, a rain barrel is a worthwhile investment and one we fully recommend.

Have any questions? Our landscape experts love to show off!
Ask us a landscaping question, if we can’t answer it, we’ll track down the answer.

Palm Atlantic Landscape Maintenance is currently revamping their website. Please contact us at (954) 938-1999

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