A gardener's work is never done
September 05, 2008
Two scourges of many Missouri yards are Bermuda grass and bagworms. They send many homeowners in search of quick and easy methods of killing them. In the case of Bermuda grass, many homeowners are disappointed in the results of treatment.

A Republic, MO homeowner asked about the effectiveness of a product from Bayer that has been advertised as a "new exclusive formula that controls the growth of undesirable Bermuda grass, crabgrass and other grassy weeds in cool season lawns." Disappointed in the past over promised cures, he asked the University of Missouri Extension for more information before plopping down $35 per bottle.

According to Brad Fresenburg, extension associate and research associate in plant pathology at the University of Missouri, Bayer's product that contains fenoxaprop - p-ethyl (Acclaim Extra) will only set back the Bermuda grass a little and weaken it but not enough to destroy it completely without successive expensive treatments of what he suggested using (Acclaim Extra mixed with Turflon Ester).

Fresenburg's best bet for controlling Bermuda grass in tall fescue or zoysiagrass lawns, he says, is an application of Ornamec or Fusilade II, but he adds that control here is not consistent. He concludes that a tank mix of Acclaim extra, Turflon Ester and Tenacity (mesotrione) for this and other grasses while still not registered may be the best solution.

Pat Byers uses the environmentalist's bane, the "R" word--Roundup for the control of Bermuda grass and suggests several applications that are best made in the summer before the planting of new grass in the fall.

Yuk, bagworms

In addressing the scourge of bagworms (look for the presence of silken bags attached to a branch), Byers admists that the safest and least expensive method of control on small trees and ornamentals is to hand-pick the bags. Obviously, this method, she says, is not practical for large specimens and infestations.

Chemicals such as carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, acephate (Orthene) and Bacillus thuringiensis (BT) are effective during the early larval stage or May to June when bagworm caterpillars emerge. By mid-September the bagworm has completed its development. The adult female lays between 500 and 1000 eggs within her bag, after which she dies. The eggs remain within the bag throughout the winter until they hatch the following spring, hence the suggestion to simply remove the bag.

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