Gardeners should check their lawns for signs of infestations from army worm, as they seem to be active at this time.
Ideal weather conditions have created a continued life cycle for the aggressive worm, which isn't a worm at all, rather a caterpillar.
They generally appear in Summer but this year the infestations are continuing into Autumn.
Army worms are also known as lawn grubs and are a threat to all types of lawn if left untreated. They may not kill the entire lawn but will leave large areas of dead grass.
Army worms only eat healthy grass, a lawn that has been well-cared for.
The damage becomes obvious when dead areas rapidly appear in the lawn. The caterpillars form large numbers that eat away at the green leaves of the lawn.
The actual army worms can vary in colour from green to brown and also black.
They reach a maximum length of about 4cm and become larger as they feed and mature.
Eggs are laid by a small brown moth, with up to 500 eggs resulting from a single laying.
This is repeated over a series of nights.
The army worm gets its name because it forms a large army, lays devastation to an area, and then quickly moves onto the next lawn once it has infested the first lawn.
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Apart from the appearance of dead patches in the lawn, army worms can be difficult to find because they attack lawns at night time.
There are several accepted methods of testing for army worm infestations.
Firstly, a bucket of soapy water, made up using dish-washing detergent, can be poured over a small area.
If army worms are present, then they will begin to appear in about 10 minutes. However, this process needs to be carried out in the cooler parts of the day. If the affected areas of the lawn are inspected at night time, using a good torch light, the caterpillars may be observed.
A piece of damp carpet or hessian, placed over the lawn at night time may reveal some of the caterpillars underneath it, the following morning. An outside light, left on for a few hours at night time, may attract the small brown moths.
Removal of the army worms can be achieved by spraying a general insecticide, ensuring a good soaking to the bottom of the thatch layer.
However, as the worms ingest the insecticide and emerge from the lawn, birds will also be affected by the spray. The use of a biological control is much preferred as this will not harm birds that may feed on the caterpillars.
Repeated infestations of army worm can occur, so regular inspections of lawn areas will allow the problem to be address at an early stage.
Damaged areas of the lawn should have a good quality fertiliser applied to it, as well as adequate water.
One of the more useful and versatile herbs to grow in the vegetable garden is parsley.
Parsley also adds an attractive feature to the flower garden. When grown as a pot plant, among other flowering pots of plants, the bushy green stems of parsley add an interesting feature.
Parsley plants grow successfully as companion plants for beans, onions, tomatoes and roses.
Plants are generally available in two main types. The more common variety has tight, dark green curled leaves, while the leaves of the Italian or Continental parsley are flat parsley.
It is used as a garnish or flavouring for many dishes.
Parsley can be planted as mature plants but it can also be grown from seed.
However, parsley seed is quite tiny and its size can present problems at the time of sowing.
One recommended method is to place the seed, quite thickly, in a groove around the outside edge of a pot to which has been added potting soil with a layer of seed raising mixture on top.
The seeds should then be covered lightly. To assist rapid germination, water that has just boiled should be poured over the soil where the seeds have been planted.
Add the water gently so that the seeds are not disturbed from the soil.
The addition of boiling water to the seeds makes them heat up very rapidly for a very brief period of time, after which they quickly cool down.
Pots should be kept damp as the young plants will not develop if they are allowed to dry out.
The result should be a thick carpet of young plants that appear over the next couple of weeks.
The young seedlings should be thinned out to leave a required number of plants, which can be gradually planted out, in multiple lots, into pots of increasing diameter.
Mature plants will be available for harvesting in about two months.
Parsley plants can be grown in positions of full sun to light shade, depending on the climate.
Stems should be harvested by selecting those on the outside of the plant, pulling or cutting off stems as they are required.
During the plant's second year of growth a flower stalk may develop.
This should be removed if the plant is to be productive for an extended period.
If the stem is allowed to remain on the plant, seed heads will eventually form and young plants may eventually appear in surrounding areas of the garden.
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