Utah State University Extension provides informal education outreach to residents throughout the state. This question-and-answer column is designed to give you research-based information whether your gardening interest is producing fresh food, creating a landscape area or anything in between.Q: I was wondering if there is a way to kill snake grass? I’m not sure if that is the actual name. That’s what we called it when I was a kid.
A: Some call it snake grass others horsetail, but whatever you choose to call it, Equisetum can be a troublesome and invasive nuisance. It takes persistence to rid the lawn or garden of this weed.
Here are a few ideas that may be helpful. Keep it mowed. Snake grass thrives in soil where there’s lots of moisture, so correcting the problem of over watering or irrigation leaks can be helpful.
Cutting off the tops will prevent spores from forming and being dispersed in the wind. Removing the tops also works to help starve the plant since it cannot photosynthesize as well with most green plant parts gone.
After cutting, apply an herbicide directly to the cut snake grass. Brush the weed with glyphosate while being careful not to apply on other grasses or plants. Applying an herbicide to the top of snake grass without cutting it doesn’t work; the surface is very resistant to the movement of those chemicals. Additional applications will be necessary because snake grass grows by underground rhizomes with roots that can go four feet deep into the ground. You can use 2-4-D or similar products mixed with a surfactant spreader/sticker.
Remember to always read label directions and do not spray volatilizing herbicides such as 2,4-D when over 80 degrees. Eradicating snake grass from your lawn will take constant vigilance and dedication. It won’t be gone the first year, but hopefully in subsequent years, you will find a yard free of this pesky plant.
Q: I have squash bugs. How do I get rid of them?
A: Squash bugs can destroy zucchini plants and other squashes seemingly overnight. They suck the sap from the plants and cause discolored leaves, wilting and even fruit damage. They seem to favor zucchini and pumpkin, but also feed on other summer and fall squashes and even cucumbers and melons.
It is important to monitor your squash plants early and often for any sign of these pesky insects, as squash bugs are best controlled when they are young. Destroy their clusters of reddish-brown eggs, which are laid on the undersides of leaves. Hand pick nymphs and adults and “squash” them.
Adult squash bugs like to hide, so it’s helpful to flush them out. One method, most effective on summer squashes, is to pour a jug of water on the base of the plant and watch for the insects as they crawl out. You can then handpick and crush them as they scatter. Another method of attack is to place a board on the ground near the squash plants. At night, squash bugs will seek shelter under the board. Early the next morning, before they emerge, turn the board over and squash them.
Scout for adults, nymphs and egg clusters every other day. The clusters of yellowish to red eggs are found on the underside of the leaves in the “V” where leaf veins meet. Crush or tear away and destroy any egg clusters that you find.
Insecticides are only effective on the nymphs. Some insecticides that can be used include carbaryl or acetameprid (Ortho Flower, Fruit & Vegetable Spray). Be sure to follow the instructions on the insecticide container. It is important to cover the undersides of the vegetation, so be sure to spray underneath. Instead of using insecticides, consider covering the plants with a well-secured, lightweight row cover until they begin to bloom to encourage the squash bugs to locate elsewhere.
Squash bugs overwinter as adults in protected areas under plant debris, lumber, wood piles, in sheds and other sheltered sites. For long-term control, remove wood piles, any piles of trash or clutter and remove or till under all plant debris from the garden area to reduce overwintering sites by adults.