What made these holes in my yard? And other questions

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 9, 2015

By Danelle Cutting

Special to the Post

When the soil is moist, it seems like insects are more active in the ground. Last week, I wrote about fire ants. This week, I am writing about a few more pests that could be plaguing your home lawn. Most pests have become more visible due to the rains we received last week.

Question: What are all of these holes in my yard?

Answer: I get this question about five times a week, and it always takes more information to determine the culprit. To do that, I put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and start asking questions: “Have you noticed any problems with roots going missing on your plants? Do you have an issue with grubs? Have you smelled any odorous aromas? Are there any insects that fly lazily around the lawn?” It is also best to get an idea of how large the holes are; this can help eliminate a few questions. If they are larger than a baseball and have a stench near the entrance, it is probably a groundhog. If they have raised tunnels and you have problems with grubs, it is probably moles hunting for them. When I have a client tell me they see a large wasp flying slowly around holes in their yard, that is usually the Cicada Wasp Killer, which is a beneficial insect that usually does not sting unless provoked or attacked. When it gets difficult to determine, I recommend the apple test, which uses slices of apples. Drop one in each freshly dug hole and cover with a pot, shingle, etc. to keep dark, and leave for about five days. If the apple is still there or moved aside, it usually means the holes were caused by moles. If the apple is eaten or chewed on, it is almost undoubtedly the vole. There are numerous others that can cause holes, and I recommend checking this publication out for more details: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_problems/hgic2364.html

Question: How can I get rid of this ragweed?

Answer: The image provided was not ragweed; it was one of our native wildflowers that often gets blamed for the allergies we receive in the fall. This is goldenrod, and honey bees will use it to help with their fall nectar flow and pollen collection. It is easy to tell the two apart once you know what to look for. The easiest part for me to look at is their leaves. Ragweed has deeply lobed leaves. Golden rod has bright gold flowers and does not have lobed leaves. Look at this publication for more differences: http://baker.ifas.ufl.edu/Horticulture/documents/Ragweedvs.Goldenrod.pdf

Question: Why do I have this mushroom circle in my yard?

Answer: This is what is commonly called a fairy ring. Rain and humidity make it perfect for mushroom growth. Growers producing mushrooms are in heaven right now. For homeowners who maintain their lawn, they are an ugly sight. As always, do not eat mushrooms that you do not recognize. Most of the fairy ring mushrooms are not the edible kind. If you have a fairy ring, they can start off small and expand year after year. There are a few different types of fairy rings. Our Turffiles publications are great for helping determine which is which and treatment options: http://www.turffiles.ncsu.edu/diseases/fairy-ring

If you have questions concerning your garden, lawns, or pests in the garden, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.