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Timely tendings: Be on the lookout for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass

The grass is growing lush, which means you will need to mow more. And, it is historically our driest month.

Bahiagrass is one of the better drought-tolerant grasses and can survive our driest month easily, though it may be a bit brown. Bahiagrass can be started from seed or sod, but it's best to wait until the rainy season to plant or rejuvenate. Seeding can be done until about mid September.

Watch for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass (above). Straw-colored grass along pavement is usually the first sign. A University of Florida/IFAS Extension publication on chinch bug management says that rapid St. Augustine growth due to frequent applications of water-soluble nitrogen fertilizers may contribute to the problem. Responsible use of slow-release nitrogen fertilizers may help (edis.ifas.ufl.edu/LH036).

Young chinch bugs are red and hidden in sheaths of grass. As adults, they're about 1/5-inch-long, their color changes to black and white and they develop wings. Chinch bugs can kill large areas of St. Augustine. Chemical treatments may be effective if applied correctly. Some choices, broken down by chemical class:

1. Lambda cyhalothrin, permethrin, cyfluthrin

2. Imidacloprid

3. Neem oil

If you need to treat the area again, use a product from a different chemical class to avoid developing resistance. Be sure the product you use is labeled for chinch bugs, and follow the label carefully.

Information from Carol Suggs and Theresa Badurek, Pinellas County Extension Service (pinellascountyextension.org); Hillsborough County Extension Gardening Almanac at hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu.

Garden events

Master Gardener Plant

Clinics in April

Get advice on a variety of gardening topics. (813) 744-5519, ext. 7. hillsborough.extension.ufl.edu. Free unless otherwise noted.

• 6:30 p.m. Tue., Florida Native Plants: Austin Davis Branch Library, 17808 Wayne Road, Odessa.

• 6:30 p.m. April 11, Salvias: Lutz Branch Library, 101 Lutz-Lake Fern Road.

• 7 p.m. April 11, Ornamental and Culinary Herbs: Bruton Memorial Library, 302 W Mclendon St., Plant City.

• 10:30 a.m. April 12, Shade Gardens:

New Tampa Regional Library, 10001 Cross Creek Blvd.

• 6:30 p.m. April 12, Begonias: Seffner-Mango Branch Library, 410 N Kingsway Road.

• 7 p.m. April 12, Backyard Wildlife Habitat: Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library, 2902 W Bearss Ave., Tampa.

• 10:30 a.m. April 13, Good Bugs, Bad Bugs: Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library, 3910 S Manhattan Ave., Tampa.

• 7 p.m. April 13, Rainbarrels: Upper Tampa Bay Regional Public Library, 11211 Countryway Blvd., Tampa.

• 6:30 p.m. April 14, Drought Resistant Plants: Town 'N Country Regional Library, 7606 Paula Drive, Tampa.

• 10:30 a.m. April 19, Container Gardening: Charles Fendig Public Library, 3903 W Neptune St., Tampa.

• 6:30 p.m. April 19, Propagation: Temple Terrace Library, 202 Bullard Parkway.

• 6:30 p.m. April 25, High Color, Low Maintenance Plants: Seminole Heights Branch Library, 4711 Central Ave., Tampa.

• 6:30 p.m. April 26, The Truth About Turf: North Tampa Branch Library, 8916 N Boulevard, Tampa.

Timely tendings: Be on the lookout for chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass 04/02/11 [Last modified: Saturday, April 2, 2011 5:30am]

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