With the transition from spring to summer in sight, it’s important for property managers to take stock of the condition of lawns and yard spaces, tackling any problems caused by some common pests here in Minnesota. It makes sense to take necessary measures early, before the heat of summer is upon us and other issues come into play.
We all know that once the winter snow has returned, there is little property managers can do to address major issues—meaning even more costly repairs come next spring. Below, we’ll review some of the most common troublemakers in our area, what you can do to remedy current issues, and steps you can take to help prevent issues in the future.
These subterranean creatures are one of the most common problems faced by property owners and managers, with the Eastern mole being the most common species found in the Twin Cities area. Often mistaken as a rodent, the carnivorous mole is capable of disrupting the root systems of lawns and shrubbery, and can cause terrain to become squishy and unstable.
This is a frustrating problem for any space, but can be an even more treacherous issue for spacious athletic fields. Most of the time property managers will never actually see moles, but will learn of their presence by the unsightly mounds of dirt they leave behind. These mounds may be more numerous and obvious after rainfall, when the ground is softer.
A mole problem should be addressed quickly and early to help prevent more widespread issues. If left undisturbed, moles may begin to populate an area. Additionally, other animals are known to utilize mole tunnels, which can lead to further issues. Here are some tactics to consider:
- Since moles eat grubs, earthworms, and adult insects (averaging about 50 pounds per year), an easy first step is treating a lawn with a pest control product that targets these creatures. By reducing their food source, it will hopefully discourage moles from taking up residence under your property.
- Mole repellents may be an attractive option for many property managers, due to the ease of use. However, most are widely considered by professionals to be ineffective and they can actually be cost-prohibitive, since regular reapplication is necessary. In most situations, you’re better off having the creatures professionally removed from your property.
- Traps are another option to consider. There are ones specifically designed to kill moles, which is considered the most effective route in eliminating your problem. There are also live traps, meaning the mole must be relocated or killed after the fact. For either option, it’s often best to call a professional to handle the problem.
- Prevent new moles from entering your property by using thick galvanized wire mesh fencing buried a few feet under the surface.
- Some types of bulbs and plants, such as daffodils and the aptly named mole plant, are believed to deter moles. It may be worth considering planting some of these along peripheral areas or in flowers beds on a property.
Unlike moles, these vegetarian rodents (sometimes referred to as field mice) remain above ground. Voles create visible runways on the surface of lawns as they eat blades of grass and trample the ground. They can be active in the winter, burrowing under the snow and causing damage that isn’t visible until spring arrives. Voles are also known to gnaw on the root systems of shrubs and trees. If these specimens are young enough, the gnawing can lead to dieback or leaning.
Just as with moles, if you suspect you have a vole problem, it’s best to bring in removal specialists to help you get rid of them. As far as prevention strategies, avoid providing any excess vegetation for voles to hide and burrow under. Deep layers of mulch will welcome voles into a space. Wrap the bases of tree trunks in guards, such as wire mesh. Galvanized wire mesh fencing buried a few feet under the surface is also helpful in deterring new voles from entering a property. Predator urines, such as fox and coyote, can also be used to help discourage voles from setting up house.
While various types of beetles are present in our area, the Japanese beetle is the most common pest. The grubs feed on grass roots and can destroy lawns, while adults feed on the foliage of more than 300 species of plants. Adult Japanese beetles fly long distances to food sources, so any turf infestation you encounter will likely be due to grubs. It’s important to identify grubs to species to confirm you have a problem with Japanese beetles, as the treatment of different beetle species can vary and you’ll want to make sure that you’re taking the appropriate measures for the particular pest you’re dealing with.
Once you’ve determined that you’re in fact dealing with Japanese beetles, the timing of pesticide treatment is important. Insecticide treatments can be applied May through mid-June, when the larvae starts feeding after the long winter. During this time, however, grubs may be difficult to kill completely, due to their large size. Starting in mid-June, most are in the pupal stage, rendering any insecticide treatments ineffective. The adults then begin to emerge in early July to feed, mate, and lay new eggs. The ideal time to apply insecticide treatment for grubs is mid-July until early September, with granular applied options distributed with a spreader being the most effective option.
Emerald Ash Borer
Having the largest of concentration of ash trees in the country, Minnesota property owners are familiar with the devastation caused by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Since ash trees lack any defense to this pest, it’s crucial for property owners to protect ash trees with insecticides and regularly evaluate their trees for any possible signs of infestation—especially if you know you are within 15 miles of any known infestations. Some characteristics to look out for include a presence of woodpecker damage or vertical splits; although these do not guarantee an infestation, they are often associated with them. Also look for D-shaped holes on the surface of trees, indicating where adults have exited.
Property owners know that healthy, mature trees not only add to the attractiveness of properties—they also add value. If you have ash trees on any of your properties, it’s vital to have a routine plan in place to inspect the trees and treat them with appropriate insecticides if necessary. Early intervention is crucial and can help you avoid costly tree removal later on down the line.
Get a Leg Up with the Right Lawn Maintenance Support
As a property manager, you undoubtedly realize the importance of nipping any issues in the bud early on, before they evolve into larger, more costly problems. By having a trusted landscaping specialist on your side, recognizing issues becomes a lot easier and can be more quickly addressed. We’d love to be there in those situations to help assess problems, make recommendations, and take the necessary steps to keep your property protected and looking immaculate. Please contact us today to arrange a meeting and property assessment.