If you look close, between the blades of grass, you can find lawn burweed and its spiny fruit. This low-growing annual weed pops up in the lawn each winter, and by late spring it develops small fruit with very sharp spines. You really don’t notice this weed until you actually step on it. Ouch!
Since lawn burweed is bad news and can ruin summer fun, especially for children, you will need to do whatever is necessary to get rid of it. The best strategy is to apply a pre-emergent herbicide, such as atrazine, in the fall to prevent it from coming up.
Remember, lawn burweed is annual and will come back from seeds that develop each spring. The only way to kill it in the spring and summer is to spray the lawn with post-emergent herbicide containing 2-4-D.
Some severe infestations may call for killing the entire area, including the lawn, with a non-selective herbicide such as Round-up just to get rid of lawn burweed for good. You’d have to replant grass or lay new sod, but there would be no more lawn burweed.
By summertime, the flea population begins to peak and can become a serious problem for pets and people. Prevention is the key for proper flea control but, although difficult, there are a few ways to help:
1. Treat the pet by bathing it in a soapy bath or insecticidal shampoo containing carbaryl (Sevin), pyrethrins or pyrethroids. Topical insect repellents such as Frontline and Top Spot have proven to be very effective against fleas and ticks on pets. Always follow the label directions. Also, clean and treat the pet’s bedding and resting areas.
2. Vacuum the house thoroughly with a beater-bar brush before any insecticidal treatment. Vacuuming will pick up about 60 percent of the flea eggs, about 27 percent of the flea larvae and some adult fleas, as well. Discard the vacuum bag outside immediately when done.
3. Treat indoors with an insecticide registered for flea control. Be sure to follow all label directions. Concentrate on areas where the pet spends the most time, such as bedding, rest areas and runways. A repeat treatment after about three weeks may be necessary to control fleas that were still in the pupal stage when initial treatments were done.
4. Treat outdoors especially where the pet rests. Again, you may need a repeat treatment after about three weeks.
You should complete this control program in one day for maximum success. Insecticides registered for use on fleas by homeowners include: bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, permethrin, pyrethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. If the infestation is severe, consider using the services of a professional pest control operator to do steps 3 and 4. Professional pest control operators are licensed to use insecticides not available to homeowners and have the proper equipment to do a thorough treatment.
Shane Harris is an extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. For more information, contact your County Extension office or visit www.aces.edu.