Gerry's Blog



A few weeks ago a colleague sent me a new item about a municipality that had a concern about wild parsnips. They can be as bad as poison ivy. Never heard of that before, so I better find out.

"Fine", I said, "but what do they look like?" So you do a Google image search for "Wild Parsnip." Fine, yellow flowers and all. Then did a Google search for "Wild Parsnip." At the top of the list was an article entitled Burned by wild parsnip. These particular weeds can cause "phyto-photo-dermatitis" to those who come in contact with the leaves or stems.

These chemicals in the plants can cause an inflammation of the skin when these areas are exposed to sunlight.

"Learned something new today", I said.

Then a week or two later, we were walking through the fields behind a friend's property when I saw these yellow flowers. "Hey, they look like the wild parsnips." I told Tim, I would check it out and let him know. But to be sure I took a picture for comparison. Sure enough, they were wild parsnips. I sent Tim the information in an email.

Then a few days later, I saw a huge patch of wild parsnips near the York bridge and as I drove down the road today, I could see more patches here and there. There are a number of other roadside plants with yellow flowers blooming right now, but the flower head is quite unique. Seems to grow in the areas that the county does not mow because of the roadslide slope or because of a hydro pole.

So if you are out and about in the countryside, please keep a watch out for this dangerous weed.



Several people have reported the Japanese adult beetles eating the leaves of their grape vines and other home landscape ornamentals. These beetles will feed on a wide range of ornamental plants. They skeletonize foliage, giving it the characteristic lacy look.

Adult beetles can fly. This mobility makes it harder to control them. There are several insecticides registered for the adults. Treatments may need to be repeated to ensure adequate coverage of the plants' foliage.White grubs damage lawns

Japanese beetle traps are one way to eliminate the adults. Rittenhouse says their trap uses sex pheromones to attract the male beetle, but they suggest not using the trap if you don't have a problem. 

Upper Canada and Natural Insect Control have a tr
ap that uses a floral attractant as well as a pheromone that lures both sexes.


We can also use an organic foliar feed/spray containing Neem. Neem oil does not directly kill the beetles but disrupts their feeding and reproduction.


Also, the Japanese beetle larvae are the White grubs that can wreak havoc on a lawn. I would recommend considering a Merit application to control the larvae.
Nematodes are also a consideration to control white grubs.

Chinch bugs can be very damaging to a lawn. As seen in the photo, they will eat the grass, but leave the weeds alone.

Chinch bugs are tiny insects about the size of an ant. Chinch bugs have short legs while ants have long legs. (I describe chinch bugs as roadsters and ants as monster trucks.)

If you end up with too many chinch bugs, the lawn will turn yellow. The chinch bugs suck the sap out of the grass plants. The lawn often looks as if it is lacking water, which in a sense it is. Watering the lawn just helps the grass to stay hydrated so that the chinch bugs can continue to feed.
  Free Chinch Bug Protection 
Chinch bugs prefer the sunny areas of the lawn. I inspected a lawn once that was in front of a building facing north. Most of the lawn had been destroyed, except for about 8 feet near the building. Unusual, the the edge of the damage was in a nice neat straight line. I realized that the chinch bugs were happy to feed on the lawn in the sun, but stayed away from the lawn shaded by the building. (Now if they ran out of lawn in the sun, would they have gone to the lawn in the shade?)

We have found that an organic insecticide is usually effective in controlling the chinch bug damage.

We have realized that with insects and chinch bugs in particular, stopping the lawn from going brown is possible without necessarily eradicating all the chinch bugs.

More information on chinch bugs in our website library.

On June 19/07 Jeff, one of our technicians found chinch bug nymphs on a sunny lawn in Ancaster. They had caused a patch about three feet in diameter to go yellow. Normally we think of July as the month for Chinch bug damage. I believe the warm weather of the past three weeks has hastened the maturity of the chinch bugs and also hastened the damage to the lawns.


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