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Control the Pests

By George Schmok

One of the biggest challenges in leading a team as you maintain huge areas of turf and trees (often called "parks") is to control the pests . . .

Let's start with the two-legged pests called teenagers, who show up as the sun goes down. I do understand that eradicating these pests is an almost impossible task, but they can be controlled with such things as skateboard deterrents, bright lights and security cameras . . .

Still, the number of pests affecting a park is almost too numerous to count.

Certainly they are too numerous to keep under complete control. There are, of course, a host of chemicals and agents readily available to assist you in these efforts. Almost everyday LSMP receives a notice about a new development designed to control any number of the aforementioned pests. In this issue alone you will find a notice from BASF about EPA approval for a fungicide they call "Trinity," as well as word from North Carolina State University about a disease resistant, genetically engineered tall fescue.

However, almost as soon as a cure or solution is developed, another is taken off the market or limited by public concern. Ironically, on the two pages mentioned above there are also articles on limitations or improper usage. Both of which can affect your day-to-day activities.

Also in this issue there is a page with one news item about California lifting its ban on herbicides in the face of an encroaching enemy, right next to another article on New Jersey activists calling for a ban of herbicides
and insecticides . . .

I once wrote an article on the Kyapo Indians from the Brazilian rain forest and how they controlled insects that ate their meager crops by planting flowers that attracted beneficial, pest-eating insects. While it is noble to work toward natural means of controlling pests, it certainly isn't always the best way to control your problems.

Unfortunately the improper use of chemicals and agents by your staff can have far reaching consequences on your own charge and the facilities and landscape in your state, region or even across the country.

So . . . It's your job to know what you can and can't use and how to best handle these agents to protect the public's health, safety and welfare. Not only to make your site the best it can be, but also to let others in your trade do the same . . .

A couple of months ago we wrote about some school kids coming across some discarded Malathion. While the kids themselves did not get sick from the exposure, the community was in an uproar. In this case the chemicals were so old that tracing the culprit who stashed the old chemicals under some wood planks was not possible. However, if it happened tomorrow at your facility you may very well be out of a job. Even if the public doesn't get sick, the very mention of herbicides or insecticides, heck, the mention of any man-made pesticides brings out the Green Peacers and Sierra Clubbers with often-baseless claims of world ruin.

Ok . . . Now you know I'm not a big tree hugger, but occasionally I do hug a tree. When I do, I like it to be free of disease and not sick from some kind of infestation. And when I spread out my blanket on the grass field I like the grass to be green and not toxic with pests or chemicals . . .

So, the point is, when you do use chemicals to assist your efforts, be smart. Train your entire crew on how to handle these agents and, almost more importantly, how to recognize when they are not handled or stored properly. Your staff should feel comfortable coming to you and pointing out a problem. And you should take an extra minute or two to stay on the forefront of what's new and what's happening in your community. It just may affect your ability to do your job.

You can always turn to the pages of LSMP or for a great deal of that news, but remember to keep your eyes on current events, get out to those association meetings and keep your crew informed . . . A small price to pay to keep those pests from infecting your wallet as well as your facility . . .

--God Bless

George Schmok, Publisher

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June 18, 2019, 6:39 pm PDT

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