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Ladybugs, ants, termites, broadleaf weeds

By John Fulton

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[April 30, 2012]  The alternating warm and cool weather has brought about many interesting things, both inside and outside the house. Inside the house, we have the Asian ladybugs to deal with. We also have them outside, but that is less of a concern. As we begin to clean up flower beds or piled leaves around the house we will disturb resting places of the ladybugs. This will cause them to seek a new place, and if it is warm and sunny enough, they may just create a little bit of a nuisance outside. Inside, we have a population coming out of hibernation. They have been there all winter, but have been under or behind things so you didn't know they were there. The best control around the house seems to be a cup of coffee or a glass of water for them to fly into. Seriously, sucking them up with a vacuum or spraying areas with an aerosol flying insect killer is about as good as you can do.

Another insect becoming active with the warm weather is the ant. We are seeing winged ants being brought into the office on a regular basis. Ants become winged when they are overcrowded in their old colony and are seeking to start a new one. Many people are concerned about the identification of these winged insects to make sure they aren't termites. The process is relatively simple. Just look at the last body segment, and if it has a "pinched" waist, it is an ant. Termites don't have that hourglass figure, but are shaped more like a cigar. A few termite samples have also been brought in.

Broadleaf weed control

Everyone seems to have been waiting for warmer temperatures and the appointed date to begin broadleaf weed control programs. Well, that time will come, believe it or not. For most of the broadleaf products to work, the temperature has to be over 55 degrees. These chemicals do work better when it is warmer and the weeds are actively growing. The first item of business is to know what type of weeds you want to control. This will make a big difference in what product or products you select.

The main products used for broadleaf weed control in lawns are 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, a combination of those three products, and triclopyr.

Let's start with the triclopyr since it's probably the easiest to discuss. Its place in weed control is for hard-to-control weeds and woody plants. It also improves control of violets. It can be added to one or more other chemicals to provide broad-spectrum control. Some blends now contain trichlopyr, so check the label. There are many trade names for products containing trichlopyr, and they seem to change every year. Just check active ingredients.

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The old standby is 2,4-D. It is good on carpetweed, chicory, dandelion, lamb's-quarters, plantains and wild carrot. There are amine forms and ester forms. The ester will generally give better control of more weeds and is generally not water-soluble (except for a hard inch of rain soon after application), but it does have vapor drift potential. MCPP is good on chicory, lamb's-quarters and white clover.

Dicamba is good on black medic, chickweeds, chicory, dandelion, dock, henbit, knotweed, lamb's-quarters, pearlwort, purslane, red sorrel, thistles, white clover, wild carrot and yarrow.

The combination of all three products will pick up all of those listed for the individual products, plus a few more such as mallow, speedwell and wild onion. The combinations are sold under many different trade names, so check the active ingredient list for ones you need.

My annual disclaimer for application of these types of products is: Beware of potential drift. Not only can the spray move under windy conditions while you are spraying, but particularly with dicamba, the products can drift as a vapor for up to two weeks after spraying if the conditions are hot and humid.

[By JOHN FULTON, University of Illinois Extension]

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