Warm Winter Weather Means More Pests Earlier
With La Nina bringing warm winter weather conditions to Northeast Florida our lawns and gardens are likely to experience more pests earlier in the season. Ants, aphids, chinch bugs, grubs, mole crickets, mosquitos, sod webworms, termites, and wood-boring beetles, may all arrive and reproduce early this year. “Warm means that insects could become active sooner,” said Eileen Buss, a University of Florida associate professor of entomology. The warmer winters essentially act as an alarm clock for plants and bugs, which spring into action, Buss said.”
There are complications though as not all pest species respond the same way to warm winter weather. “A warm winter day could cause insects to become active (e.g., woolly bear caterpillars) when they normally would be dormant,” explained Integrated Crop Management News. “Activity uses up stored fats they depend on to survive until the spring. Without access to food, these active insects could starve to death before food becomes available.” However, Iowa’s average low January temperature is in the twenties compared to Florida’s high fifties and Jacksonville high forties. Insects typically begin to enter a hibernation-like torpor state called diapause when temperatures drop into the low forties. Whereas, regional species of fleas begin to die off below 37F other species of insects produce glycerol using it as a sort of antifreeze that allows them to walk around during warm Winter weather and not die during a periodic cold snap.
Florida lawn and garden pests develop in fewer days during warm winter weather as the insect growth rate is temperature-dependent. “Every insect requires a consistent amount of heat accumulation to reach certain life stages, such as egg hatch or adult flight,” according to Utah State University. “Degree day values interpret that heat accumulation. When used to determine treatment timing, they are an important component of an Integrated Pest Management program, providing a cost effective tool to reduce insect feeding damage.”
Be vigilant in monitoring your lawn and garden plants during warm winter weather, checking the undersides of leaves, and being ready for applying preventative treatments.
Insects aren’t the only threat as fungus spore survivability improves with warm Winter weather. La Nina Winter conditions forecast less precipitation throughout the Southeast. While ensuring your lawn and landscape have adequate weekly watering, don’t overwater, which is an invitation to fungus. Be on the lookout for Brown Patch fungus in your turf prevalent when evening temperatures are below 70F. Signs of Brown Patch fungus are rings and small irregular patches of dead grass.
Learn the signs and symptoms of pests and pathogens in your landscape to reduce the risk and threats of infestations. Ensure your lawn care service is proactive in assessing and preventing these potential warm Winter weather threats with adequate treatments early. Earth Works Lawn Care division offers free quotes for Lawn and Landscape disease and pest control services.
Earth Works operates a retail Garden Center in Jacksonville and provides landscaping, hardscaping, water features, lawn care service, lawn spraying, and drainage solutions. Visit us or for specific lawn, garden, and landscaping needs, contact us at 904-996-0712.
Earth Works proudly serves clients in Northeast Florida, including Jacksonville, Ponte Vedra Beach, Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Nocatee, St. Johns, Fleming Island, Orange Park, Middleburg, Green Cove Springs, Amelia Island, Fernandina, and St. Augustine.