Tuesday | October 17, 2017
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Reducing centipedes around the home, yard

Dear Nick, I did not realize centipedes were very venomous until one of my dogs got bit by one and almost lost his paws. What can I spray on the grass around the house to keep them away and kill them? I heard that there is a spray that works and that centipedes emerge from the soil dying in a day or two. — P.C.

There are a number of insecticides that are effective on centipedes. The synthetic pyrethroids are commonly applied. Using a material with the active ingredient Bifenthrin, either a liquid or granular formulation, is effective.

The problem with this and other insecticidal sprays is the lack of a residue because of frequent rainfall. In other words, the material often washes away. Spraying the ground near the house and under the eaves, which is sheltered, will give a longer residue.

I would concentrate the spray in areas centipedes prefer, areas with an accumulation of logs, lumber, rocks, leaf litter and compost.

Chickens will eat centipedes when they come across them. Unfortunately, like the mongoose and rat, chickens are sleeping when the centipedes are out and about.

A practical method I have employed is turning over rocks and piles of wood and terminating the critters as I uncover them. Sometimes I have even employed my free range chickens, which are eager to pounce at the unprotected prey.

Over time, the centipede population has diminished.

Another control measure often mentioned is to eliminate the damp habitats of the centipedes such as piles of logs, lumber, rocks, leaf litter and compost.

Hi Nick, Following your advice, I set up traps to control Mediterranean fruit flies on Surinam cherries. It’s working. Now, some of the fruit has fuzzy white things — either on the outside of the fruit or inside the bottom where the four little green prongs are. What is this and how can I control it? Thank you, Teri

Other than the Mediterranean fruit flies, Surinam cherries are relatively hardy plants free of most pests. They can be attacked by some scale, a few caterpillars and whitefly. The whiteflies can certainly be white fuzzy things, but they would not be confined to the fruit. In fact, they are typically found infesting the leaves.

Although not mentioned in the literature, my first guess would be mealybugs, which love to settle down in tight places such as inside the navel of a navel orange or wedged between a pair of lemons hanging on the tree.

Whether mealybug, scale or whitefly, first check for ants. Their presence would prevent biological control from taking place. If ants are present, treat for them.

With the ants gone, the natural predators and parasites will come in and do their job. If the population of any of these pests begins to rise, spray with a horticultural oil spray; more than one application may be necessary. Lastly, if just a few fruit are infested, pick the fruit wipe or wash clean.

I seem to be able to grow nice carrot greens, but I don’t get good root (carrot) development. Can you give me some ideas?

Carrots are considered a cool season vegetable crop. Consequently, the best production will be during the cooler months of the year and in cooler areas.

Seeds should be planted from September to April. Ideal temperatures for growing carrots are between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 75 are more likely to produce poor quality carrots. Here are some varieties that do well in Hawaii: Nantes, Chantenay, and Denvers Half-Long.

Other than climate, another problem could be over fertilization. This would produce a lush top with little or no carrot.


“Ask the Garden Guy” book is now available. Over the years, many readers have saved my articles for future reference. Others have asked to put my articles in book form. “Ask the Garden Guy – Science Based Answers to Garden Questions” can be purchased through my website, www.gardenguyhawaii.com, and at local bookstores.

Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at askthegardenguy@earthlink.net.


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