BRRR! My Lawn and Plants Are Freaking Out!!

Good Morning! Many of us woke up recently to find some very unhappy (and extremely UGLY) plants in our landscape! Well I’ve got some good news and some bad news. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s talk about this for a minute. Florida’s climate is very conducive to having lush tropical and sub-tropical plants abounding in our landscape…aaah, it’s like paradise–but not when we get to the cold, potentially freezing time of year! Some tender-leafed plants (Hibiscus, Dracaenas, Oyster Plant, Schefflera just to name a few) can suffer severe damage to the leaves even when the temp dips to 45-50 degrees. Now imagine what happens when we get frost or, Heaven, forbid, freezing temperatures. We’re talkin’ dead and ugly. There are some precautions you can take to help avoid this and if it’s now after the fact and you’re looking at some disturbing sights in your flower gardens–you need to hear what I have to say so you don’t add insult to injury, okay?

Here are a couple of things you need to know right off the bat: DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD STUFF OFF YET, let me repeat that DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD STUFF OFF YET! I know it’s yucky looking. I know it bother’s the heck out of you. I know it makes your landscape look like poop. I know that, BUT this dead, ugly stuff will actually protect the plant when the even colder, even more damaging temperatures come that usually happen in, say, February and sometimes into March. It cold, it’s hot. It’s cold, it’s hot. The poor plants don’t know what to do. All they want to do is take a little rest from the growing season and “chill out” (okay, that was in poor taste) for a while. But NOOO, The weather has them all fouled up. So they grow and they rest and grow and rest…These plants, including our grass (which incidently, is just the biggest “plant” in your landscape) need to have a dormant time to rejuvenate and rest from all the growing and producing they have to do most of the year. Give them a break.

So you’ve heard that hind sight is 20/20. In a “perfect world” you would have chosen cold hardy plants and not just lush, tender tropiclals. You would have put the cold-sensitive plants under the canopies of larger trees, along fence lines and against the house  to help protect them when our usually, short-lived, cold snaps come. The lighter weight plants in pots, you would have brought inside, of course. You would have made sure that your last fertilization was done way back in November  AND that you only used half the amount you normally do in the Spring, right? Certainly, you would not have pruned the plants after late fall, as this would have caused NEW growth which is much more susceptible to cold, frost and freeze damage! Alrighty then , you also would have watered lightly before the potentially damaging temps (but not too much, that would actually cause a rot problem, right? ) And, of course you had already insulated the ground by applying about 3″ of mulch around the base of the really tender plants in your garden. Being the serious gardener that you are, I’m certain you have light sheets or the like , NEVER HEAVY PLASTIC, and bricks to weigh them down on hand to loosely cover the plants and keep them from blowing away. The other thing you thought about was, putting a light (like a mechanics light or utility light) under the cloth (not touching the leaves) to keep the heat in. I’m also sure that you made sure to give everything, including your lawn a nice dose of MICRO 5 (zinc, copper, boron, iron and manganese–NO NITROGEN) to ensure they have all the nutrition they need to head off damage or at the least, help them bounce back from damage they may sustain.

Now, even though you thoroughly prepared, you may still end up with the aftermath of extremely cold or freezing weather to your landscape. Not to worry, unless the root system was completely killed or has rotted from too much water, you have a great chance that they will come back. This is the time I need to really emphasize and reiterate how important it it that you  DO NOT PRUNE THE DEAD LEAVES AND BRANCHES OFF UNTIL ALL DANGER OF FROST AND FREEZE IS GONE (usually around mid to late March–but sometimes later). It may seem that I am obsessed with this fact, but, seriously, it is that important. You see, during January, February and March we have awesome spreads of amazingly warm Florida weather. You know what I’m talking about–at the end of a cold spell the weather turns warm and beautiful and we want to get out there and prune and trim and plant and fertilize and make everything look pretty again. But this should be avoided at all costs or you may end up with damage on top of damage or young tender new plants that die out before true spring really hits! Now I’m not saying you can’t pick off dead leaves that are just barely hanging on, I’m talking about pruning and cutting back. Even though the plant may look unsightly for a bit, that damage is a blessing in disguise and will help prevent future damage when the REAL cold gets here. When you prune and trim and pinch, you are actually telling the plant to “grow” and that new growth is extremely vulnerable to cold/freeze damage. Trust me on this, okay? You’ll be glad you did–and so will your pocketbook.

If you would like information on cold-hardy and cold-sensitive plants for Florida, shoot me an e-Mail and I’ll get that to you within a day or two. In closing, I want to tell you that the single most important thing that you can do for your lawn and all your ornamental plants, whether cold sensitive or hardy, whether fragile and brail or woody ornamental is PROPER FEEDING AND WATERING! That is an entire subject in and of itself, so I won’t get into all that today, but you can expect that it is coming in the very near future as we proceed past the winter and into the spring growing season. In the meantime, if you have any questions that can’t wait–feel free to contact me and I’ll get you the answers ASAP.

Be Blessed and Stay warm–it’s cold out there!!

 

Mona Giordano “The Bug Lady”

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“You Dirty RAT!!!”

And I’m not kidding. Rats are nasty little creatures. They carry germs, parasites (fleas, ticks, mites) and if that wasn’t nasty enough they cause diseases….remember the plague? Another consideration is the economic impact of having rats living within your home or business–they pee and poop over everything, they chew and make nests and damage and destroy your property and belongings and then there’s the stench, oh the undeniable stench of a rodent population!

The cold hard reality is that RATS ARE RUNNING RAMPANT IN FLORIDA RIGHT NOW! Abandoned houses, businesses, lots and warehouses have become untended and overgrown (and sometimes inhabited by transients that temporarily live there and leave food, beverages and other garbage behind) . The economy has caused many to vacate their once lovely and maintained homes and all of these things combined have caused a surge in rodent populations across Florida. Even high income neighborhoods that are well maintained are having rat problems, especially if they back up to a body of water, whether it be a canal, lake or retention pond.

To have a professional exterminator come and take care of this problem for you is a very expensive proposition. They, just like you, would have to come out and inspect, put out traps, come back out and reset traps (remove dead carcases, too), come back out…etc. And hopefully you get a qualified and properly trained technician that won’t just throw some bait packets in the attic and outdoors and play the odds that a rat won’t die inside the wall voids where you can’t get to them and die!! Oh the horrible stench of a dying rat that you can’t get to without tearing the wall apart. FYI most professional rodent control is priced starting at about $200 (for trapping and/or baiting and upwards to $600 or more if they are doing “exclusion” (sealing up all potential entry points with copper mesh and /or foam) .

SO…WHAT IS A HOMEOWNER TO DO?? 

I’m soo glad you asked. Here’s the deal. When you are dealing with a rat problem we ALWAYS recommend that you start by trying to TRAP them. There are several options available to you to choose from:

STEP ONE

Traditional Wood Victor M-2 or M-9 snap traps or the easy to set trap, SNAPE

Hava-A-Heart Mechanical Traps (more humane, trap and release elsewhere)

Catchmaster Giant Rat Boards (that you make into a tent to trap them on ALL sides)

Flat Glue Board Traps (Masterline Professional) *they may chew off limbs or tail to escape

The reason this is so important is that if you start by using a bait, then there is a great chance that they will die behind a wall void or up in the attic where you cannot get to them. You then have to hire someone to come and get the smelly, nasty, gross thing out OR deal with the stench until the body fully decomposes! This can take two weeks or more. The other problem is, any parasites that were living on this once warm blooded, but now dead rat, are going to be looking for new warm blood to feast on–that could be YOU or your family!! YUCK!

STEP TWO:

Once the rat population is under control, it is now advisable to follow up on a couple of things so this does not become a problem again. An ounce of prevention and all that…

Find and seal all entry points with “STUFF-IT” copper mesh

Put out Bell T1 Rat Bait Stations in a variety of locations (inside and outside)

OR Keep HAVE-A-HEART Traps in place outdoors to head ’em off at the pass

Keep potential breeding grounds free from litter and organic debris (leaves, overgrown grass/weeds, wood piles, etc.)

Keep fallen or rotten fruit (especially citrus) continually picked up and disposed of

So there you have it. Everything you always wanted to know about the SAFE, proper and cost effective way to eliminate and control those “Dirty little Rats!”

Now, it’s very important to understand something. YOU MUST READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS LABEL DIRECTIONS at all times. The old “if a little is good, a lot is better” is NOT the case when you are dealing with pesticides or rodenticides!! (or pool chemicals, or paint chemicals, or cleaning chemicals….) SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS.

Well, I hope this helps you rid your home, business and storage areas of those nasty disease-carrying, home-wrecking RODENTS!l
If you are not able to find these products locally, give us a call. WE CAN HELP! Visit us at www.floridabugexpert.com.

Until tomorrow, be blessed and…know that You are “armed and dangerous now (at least to rat populations, that is!)

Mona Giordano (The Bug Lady)

FLEAS are on the RAMPAGE!

Wow! 2012 is off to a “itchy” start. The fleas in Florida are the number one pest to be reckoned with this week. Often times homeowners rush off to the local department or builders supply store only to find hundreds of chemicals with weird sounding names in hopes of finding a solution for their flea problems! What happens is they end up choosing the over-the-counter remedies that work only for a very short time or worse yet…DON’T WORK AT ALL! By the time they come in for help they have wasted hundreds of dollars and Fido is still scratching his little brains out!

So here’s the scoop on FLEA CONTROL…

To treat fleas effectively, you must treat the INSIDE, the OUTSIDE and the PET period! If you do not treat all three areas you are fighting a loosing battle. As a homeowner and mother (ok, grandmother, too if I’m being honest) it is of utmost concern that the products used in the home, yard and pet must be SAFE!

INSIDE: You must use a product that contains something for the adult stage (adulticide) AND an Insect Growth Regulator (Birth Control, if you will) some suggestions are Ultracide, Precor 2000 which are ready to use Pressurized Cans (Yes, they are safe for the ozone layer,) or the conventional mix- up- a- gallon in a pump up sprayer method. I would recommend Bifen along with Precor if you choose this method.

OUTSIDE: Granules will work the best in Florida since they will hold up the longest (I am NOT talking about the granules you get from the chain stores–I am talking about professional strength granules that we use and sell) we recommend Talstar or Bifen. If you prefer a liquid application than I would stay with the Bifen.

THE PET: We have heard hundreds of complaints that the topical spot-on drops have not been working. My theory on this is that the fleas have built up resistance to these products because they have been using the same formulations for too many years. With that said, we are currently recommending the brand “Comfortis.” We have had rave reviews about this product (and this is what we use on our Goldren Retriever, Miracle).

Now, it’s very important to understand something. YOU MUST READ AND FOLLOW THE MANUFACTURERS LABEL DIRECTIONS at all times. The old “if a little is good, a lot is better” is NOT the case when you are dealing with pesticides!! (or pool chemicals, or paint chemicals, or cleaning chemicals….) SAFETY FIRST ALWAYS.

Well, I hope this helps you rid your home, lawn and pet of those nasty little, blood suckers.
If you are not able to find these products locally, give us a call. WE CAN HELP!

Until tomorrow, be blessed and….HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

Mona (The Bug Lady)

Wecome to floridabugexpert!

Welcome to floridabugexpert! My name is Mona Giordano. I am a State Certified Pest Control Operator, Pest Management Consultant, Conference Speaker and Integrated Pest Management Instructor. I am at your service to answer your pest control and lawn/garden questions and make recommendations on which products to use so you can do your own pest control at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional. In fact, we have trained many a professional pest control operator, ourselves. When many of them have a problem they can’t solve–they come to us.

My husband, Peter, and myself have been in the Pest Control Industry for over 28 years. We own the Pest Control General Store in Holiday, Florida and have been in that same location for 25 years (yes, I was just a child when we opened it, lol!) We have been providing homeowners and businesses help with doing their own pest control, lawn and garden care, termite control and much more by providing them with the “tools of our trade” (professional-strength insecticides, weed killers, fungicides, termiticides, rodenticides and fertilizers) and by identifying insects and lawn problems then providing the proper instruction on how to apply them and obtain SAFE, effective results while protecting their children, pets and the environment.

This “blogging thing” is brand new to me. I posted my first blog on January 12, 2012! Please bare with me as I learn the ins and outs of this new technology (new to me, that is) and join with me as I add video instructionals and how-to’s on You Tube and FACEBOOK, as well as upgrading our website to include e-Commerce so your can purchase all the products and equipment I teach about, if it is not available to you locally. The (ad)venture begins now…

Some of the upcoming topics you can look forward to are:

<> Cold Weather Protection For Your Florida Lawn and Landscape

<> Roaches and Spders and Bed Bugs, Oh My!

<> Lice in Public Schools and Daycare, What’s a Parent To Do?

<> Does Organic Gardening and Pest Control Really Work?

<> “I Spray These Ants, But They Keep Coming Back!”

These are just a few of the “hot topics” of the hour. I will be blogging daily, but if you have a question or a problem in the meantime, here’s how you can contact us:

Web:                        http://pestcontrolgeneralstore.com   OR   http://www.floridabugexpert.com

FACEBOOK:         Pest Control General Store

e-Mail:                    pcgsinc@aol.com

Phone:                    (727) 942-3551

Address:                 2636 US Highway 19 – Holiday, Florida – 34691

Thank you again for visiting our Blog. We look forward to helping you “get the bugs out” of your life.

Blessings and….HAVE A SAFE SPRAY!

Mona Giordano "The Bug Lady"