Ground Pearls

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Elden, Mar 10, 2008.

  1. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I have a customer that has ground pearls. They are a scale insect that lives under ground and attack the roots of turf. Has anyone had any sucess with slowing them down using organic methods? There are no "normal" chemicals to control them fully except for fumigation, even then only limited sucess and you kill the turf. I want to help this guy out as I was highly recomended to him. All the big fert/squirt companys around here sell them down the river once they have a ground pearl infestation.

    This is my thinking: Ground pearls attach to the roots and suck the juices out of the turf, causing it to decline and inhibits its ability to use water. If he was put on a very agressive compost topdressing and aeration regimine, would it allow the grass to out compete these lil boogers. If you have had any experience w/ them let me know what you did and how it went.
  2. Organic a go go

    Organic a go go LawnSite Member
    Messages: 211

    Good lord!!! To be honest I've never heard of these things before. I googled 'em and got downright depressed. Thank goodness its too cold up here for them. I wonder if there aren't some nematodes that could be effective?? Beyond that several of the articles Google served up mentioned they thrive in acidic soil so maybe make the soil less hospitable. Otherwise its just a matter of time until they rule the world I guess.......
  3. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    Ground pearls belong to a family of scale insects. Ground pearls are identified by the presence of small pearl-like bodies on the roots or in the soil. The pink adult stage that crawls is present during early summer. The adult female ground pearl is a wingless, pinkish scale insect, about 1/16 inch long with well-developed forelegs and claws. The male is a gnat-like insect smaller than the female, but with a slender waxy "tail" up to 1/4 inch long. Clusters of pinkish-white eggs are laid in a white waxy sac. Commonly referred to as a ground pearl, the slender nymph is covered with a hard, globular, yellowish-purple shell. Encysted nymphs are up to 1/16 inch in diameter

    You are right, there is not a lot of info on that beast or how to control them. It seems they are scale and it seems to me that I control it with insecticidal soaps. But that is normally as a foliar, I am not sure how much good it would do as a drench. They are obviously opportunistic so there is something going on in the soil that allows them to flourish.

    Try an insecticidal soap, WTF

    I think I would have to blast them with some quality AACT and see if you can get something to compete with them and knock their numbers back. They seem to have free reign

    They must have a natural predator, I just haven't found it yet.
  4. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    That's why I started this thread. I am familiar with them, as when I worked for one of those big companies I dealt with them. From some people I have talked to UF is suposed to be doing some studies w/ Imaclorapid, but from what I have heard is that the results are poor and difficult to come by because of their nature. It's not like you can do a soap flush or visually inspect w/ out destroying where their habitat.

    I was hoping some one on the organic side knew a way to reduce the population. If somebody found an effective treatment for them they could probly become very rich.
  5. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335


    My approach would be to attempt to knock them back in the nymph stage, as is done with other types of scales. Perhaps a some CT with predatory nematodes as suggested might work, although it is still a shot in the dark. It would appear the best time to attempt control is in spring (mating season) and late summer (nymphs hatch). As suggested in various publications, best known defense is a healthy lawn.
  6. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    I found a study from the 70's that used a chemical called aldicarb @10%. It said that the best time to treat them was every 2 weeks from May 15 to July 1. The first is before the adults hatch and the last when most sould be hatched. In the study done by Uni. of Arizona using this method they reduced the population from 859 to 11. The results were drawn from 25, 1/2" x 4" soil cores in infected areas. I hate to go back 40 years for some research, but the info kind of inspires me that there might actually be a way. Now just to find out how to do it organicly, instead of using some chemical that has probly been banned for 20 years. LOL
  7. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Phosphates used to do the trick too, now they are banned. Any old laundry soap used to thin out the shells so they were much easier to kill.

    They are not very deep just dig out the effected area3"-4" deep and go 8"-10" beyond the obvious effected area. that should take a big chunk of the population out. Hopefully you just have a few small spots.

    Try Arbico if any one would have a biological control they would. Try this link
  8. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Try "Pearle scale" for the search. Let us know if you find anything.
  9. Elden

    Elden LawnSite Member
    Messages: 137

    Searching Ground Pearls produced way more resulting finds than Pearl Scale. After about 5 links about them, they started linking to sites about gold fish. ???? I also e-mailed arbico to see if they knew of anything. Guess I'll wait and see.
  10. Az Gardener

    Az Gardener LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,899

    Arbico does have a nematode for pearl or ground scale they call it nemaseek. Two applications between mid May an mid June for best results.

    An old timer told me to mix up some (6-oz) TSP tri sodium phosphate in a hose end sprayer with some (see label)Dylox and set the sprayer for 2-oz per gallon and saturate the area effected and 12'-18" beyond, be prepared the turf will brown out. Then water in deeply.

    Obviously this is not a by the book technique but it will knock them out. I have been told TSP can be found at H/D, Ace, Lowes etc in the plumbing isle. Let me know how it works if you try it out.

    Let the flaming begin I am satin, I am the cause of the ruin of our ecosystem bla bla bla. Hey I started out with the organic control but lets face it we are in a results oriented business if you notice the scale in Aug. when it usually shows up. The client doesn't want to wait until may next year to take action.

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