What’s Eating My Strawberries & Grass Control In Ornamental Plants

Question:

Something is eating my strawberries and it's not snails or slugs. They carve out a hole in the berry just before the berries are ripe. What is it and is there a safe pesticide that I can use?

Answer:

  • The primary suspects for this type of problem would be Sowbugs. Snails and slugs feed on the foliage of strawberries and leave the fruit alone.
  • Sowbugs are a grayish-colored bugs that roll up into a ball when you touch them. Sowbugs are usually considered a beneficial insect as they feed and break down decaying organic matter.
  • They are a problem with strawberries, pumpkins and all types of melons as they invade the bottom or sides of the mature fruit where it comes in touch with moist soil. This contact causes the skin to deteriorate or decay and provides an entry point.
  • With strawberries, the easiest way to control Sowbugs is to lift the berry clusters up off the ground.
  • The berries dry quickly as moisture evaporates from the air circulation. The dry surface prevents any deterioration so there is no entry point for the Sowbugs. Paper Dixie Cups or irrigation clips are two easy methods of raising the clusters. With melons and pumpkins, straw is used to keep them high and dry.
  • A second pest is Earwigs. Earwigs feed at night and hide during the day. They attack the sides and top of the berry.
    • Sluggo Plus is an organic, bait to controls a range of problems in edible including Earwigs, Sowbugs Snails and Slugs. It’s a granular bait so it’s easily sprinkled throughout the strawberry patch and reapplied with each crop. With melons and pumpkins, it is reapplied monthly. Another option for controlling Earwigs is trapping. In the evening hours, set out moistened tubes of rolled-up newspaper. Earwigs will use it as a hiding place when daylight arrives. In the morning, dump the contents into a pail of soapy water and set out new traps in the evening. 

Question:

My Wax Leaf Privet hedge is constantly plagued with Bermuda Grass that is invading from my neighbor’s yard. The foliage is close to the ground and dense, so I do not want to use Round-Up. Is there a way to control the grass without harming the privet hedge beside hand pulling it?

Answer:

  • You can control unwanted Bermuda Grass, along with crabgrass, and foxtails with Grass Getter from Monterey Lawn and Garden or Ortho Grass-B-Gon. Both of these products are selective herbicides the control weedy grasses without injuring, desirable broadleaf plants such as hedges, shrubs, fruit trees, ornamental ground covers including junipers and some edibles.
  • I would read the label carefully to be sure you understand how it is to be applied and the limitation with certain plant species. That be said, privet is a listed species. You get the best control when the Bermuda Grass is actively growing, May through October.
  • I’d apply the herbicide with a tank sprayer to avoid have the spray drift and reapply as necessary.