Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Crazy Ants Again, Yard Hogs, Leaf Spots, and Termites

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A closeup image of a crazy ant. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Crazy Ants Again

James of Pineville sent an email out of concern for his family, “I have seen BAD crazy ant infestations at my parent’s home in East Texas…. Are they becoming established here? And are there controls for them?”

Yes, the crazy ants (CA) are well established in Louisiana. A quick search of news stories about CA in Louisiana revealed the earliest reports in 2012.

Products with fipronil have been effective long-term treatments. Taurus SC ™, Termidor SC ™ and FUSE ™ have fipronil and are available to homeowners. Topchoice ™ has fipronil and is a professional grade of insecticide applied on lawns by licensed landscape applicators. If homeowners have used Frontline™ and other flea and tick treatment for pets, they have used fipronil safely on their furry friends. As always, read the label for safe and effective treatments.

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Feral hogs in a research pen. Photo: Olivia McClure, LSU AgCenter.

Yard Hogs

A homeowner called asking about feral hogs in a relative’s yard, not in a crop field, but in a yard. A winter 2019 of Louisiana Agriculture, an article entitled “Agriculture Producer Concerns about Feral Hogs in Louisiana” reported, “Concerning health and safety, 43 percent of respondents [to a survey of landowners about feral hogs] agreed that feral hogs made them concerned for their own or their family’s safety, while 34 percent also felt concern for their pets’ safety. And 5 percent said they or a family member had been injured by feral hogs. In addition, 52 percent believed feral hogs transmit diseases to humans, and 56 percent believed that feral hogs transmit diseases to wildlife and farm animals.”

AHA shared some ideas, and the homeowner was interested in contacting state-permitted hog trappers to control these destructive animals. If a citizen needs a hog trapper, an online search of “Louisiana + Nuisance Wildlife Control and Removal” will provide a link by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). This link supplies phone numbers to contact state-permitted trappers specializing in hog trapping. Some trappers will cover the whole state, and some will only cover certain parishes.

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Hydrangea leaves with a fungal leaf spot. Photo: Violet Redger, Southern Landscape.

Leaf Spots

Violet saw leaf spots on a hydrangea plant and asked, “[Do you have] any idea what is going on with my hydrangea? What shall I do?”

Lee Rouse, an AgCenter agent, wrote about cercospera leaf spot on hydrangeas, “Cercospora leaf spot is a foliar disease that rarely, if ever, kills the target plant. However, in severe cases it will cause nearly complete defoliation. Mild cases of Cercospora leaf spot will cause hydrangeas to have unsightly foliage, can reduce the vigor of the shrub and possibly hinder flower buds from setting.”

Rouse recommends these control measures for this fungal disease, “It is highly important to remove any diseased leaves that have fallen from the plant as well as hand picking highly infected leaves from of the plant. Be sure to discard these disease leaves in the trash, and do not put into the compost bin.

Chemical control options of Cercospora leaf spot include spraying regularly with a product containing chlorothanil, such as Bonide Fung-onil, Ortho MAX Disease Garden Control or Daconil. Spraying will not take away the damaged area of the foliage but will prevent the spread to new foliage. Lastly, fertilize lightly with a nitrogen fertilizer to help encourage the new disease-free growth.”

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Comparison of winged ants and termites. Photo: Texas A&M University.

Termites

A homeowner visited the AgCenter and brought a small vial with tiny winged insects for identification. AHA examined the insects and noted the thick waists and determined that the insects are termites.

AHA recommended that the homeowner contact a local exterminator for an inspection and treatment, if necessary.

When preparing for this article, AHA learned about three types of termites in Louisiana from the AgCenter website:

  • Drywood termites: They are always found inside dry wood and require neither soil contact nor external moisture. They do not build mud tubes, and there is no soil in the wood they infest; but they eat and build galleries both across and within the wood grain and produce dry, six-sided fecal pellets. The pellets are often ejected from their galleries.
  • Subterranean Termites: They can be found both in the wood and in the soil. They start colonies in the soil, require moisture, build mud tubes to access aboveground wood and bring soil into the wood they infest. Most prefer to eat wood along the grain. They do not produce fecal pellets but may build cartons to make above-ground nests. A carton nest is composed of chewed wood, saliva, and excrement.
  • Formosan Subterranean Termites: They are an invasive species that is not native to the United States… The Formosan subterranean termite nest is constructed from soil, masticated wood and saliva, and excrement. The nest will completely fill an empty void and can be very large. These nests can be the home of millions of individual termites. They are also a reservoir of moisture that can sustain the resident termites for long periods of time without other moisture sources. The most common location for these nests within a home is in the space created between the studs and the interior and exterior walls.

The numbers of termites in a Formosan termite colony can be greater than 10 million individuals. This is much greater than the numbers of termites in native termite colonies, which usually number in the hundreds of thousands. This enormous difference in numbers means that Formosan termites can do much more damage than native termites in a short period of time.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or khawkins@agcenter.lsu.edu. Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

6/30/2020 8:37:30 PM
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