Topic: Pests


Brian Jervis, the coordinator of 320 Tulsa Master Gardeners, was our featured speaker in March 2009. Those in the Tulsa Master Gardener program are those that wish to be a gardening community volunteer by training, serving and teaching in the subject.

Outlined below are a few of the topics Brian addressed: 

How do I know if I have ants or termites?

Termites have straight antennae, four equal wings in shape and length, and seem to have only a head and a body. Ants have bent antennae, two longer and two shorter wings, and have three distinct body sections. If you still cannot tell, bring a speciman to the Ext. Center and we can look at your pests. 

I found a spider in my house -- is it a brown recluse?

These spiders are seen year round. If you catch a spider, you can bring it to the OSU Extension Center on 15th street for identification, or you can read OSU Fact Sheets 7301 and 7312 for information about identifying this pest and controlling it (see below). 

Yes, there are many. The most promising seem to be the light horticultural oils, also called all-season oils. There is also Neem oil that is applied the same way. These are more effective than conventional insecticides in some ways because they smother the eggs and they also control diseases by smothering the spores. Most of them have specific temperature limitations so read the label. Often the temperature range is 30F to 90F. Although, why a person would want to be spraying anything if the temperatures were above 90 or below 30 is beyond my range of understanding.

Does my yard have moles or gophers?

Moles and gophers are the two most common tunneling pests we have in this part of Oklahoma. Basically, if the tunnel is raising the earth in, probably have a mole. If there are mounds of dirt, larger than an ant hill, probably a gopher. If you have both, you may have both pests. Gophers eat plants; moles eat grubs. There are many items available for fighting these pests. For the best long-term control, OSU recommends using traps. You must identify which animal you have because the traps are different for each type of animal. For more information about gophers see OSU Fact Sheet 9001

Why are my houseplants sticky?

Check for insect problems. Many insects that suck the juices from your house plants leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew. Common makers of honeydew can be aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, or mealy bugs. They are all controlled with common houseplant sprays. But these sprays must be repeated to be effective because they don’t kill all the bugs, and they don’t kill the eggs. All season horticultural oil is possibly more effective for control, but it is best to spray plants outdoors.

I have wood bees / carpenter bees drilling into my wood. What can I do?

The female bee burrows into dead wood for a nesting place. She prefers vertical, unpainted wood. At dusk, spray with Sevin dust, pyrethrins, or a wasp spray in the hole. Twenty four hours later, plug the holes with cork or expandable foam available at hardware stores. Consider painting the wood.

Thanks to Program Chair, Mark Cohlmia for arranging to have Brian come and speak to the chapter.

Also, congratulations to Stephanie Pugh and Amos Landers who won the door prizes.