Rumor Has It… House Centipedes Are Actually Helpful
Rumor Has It… House Centipedes Are Actually Helpful
- 1 Rumor Has It… House Centipedes Are Actually Helpful
- 2 What Is a House Centipede?
- 3 Here Are Two Good Reasons You Should Let the House Centipede Be
- 4 How to Get Rid of House Centipedes – The Right Way
- 5 The House Centipede – Useful Friend or Unsettling Foe?
- 6 Are Centipedes Dangerous?
- 7 Centipedegrass Yearly Maintenance Program
- 8 January through April
- 9 May Through August
- 10 September through December
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They may be creepy looking, but they are actually looking out for you.
No, I don’t mean your creepy neighbor who’s always peeping over the fence.
I’m talking about something closer to home. In fact, it’s right inside your house.
I’m talking about the house centipede.
Yes, those nasty looking critters that move in an even nastier looking fashion, but that’s as bad as it gets.
Everything else about the house centipede that has been sending you scurrying for cover is good.
So, there’s no need to take off your slipper and use it as part of your pest control equipment. Creepy as it looks, the house centipede does more good in your house than you know.
Let’s take it from the top, shall we? Perhaps you’ll come to appreciate the house centipede in your house as a gift from Mother Nature.
Table of Contents
What Is a House Centipede?
Scutigera coleoptrata. That’s what those in the know call the house centipede running around in your house. It’s actually one of the several species of insects commonly called the house centipede.
Although the name suggests that it has a hundred legs, house centipedes actually only have 15 pairs of legs – or 30 in total. And those 15 sets of legs help them travel at a whopping 1.3-feet per second. No wonder catching them can leave you out of breath (not to mention full of frustration). In appearance, it has a yellowish-grey color.
Although this tiny creature seems to have taken over the world, it was once only found in the Mediterranean from where it originated. It is believed this hardy insect that entered the Americas via Mexico is now at home all across the continent.
Here Are Two Good Reasons You Should Let the House Centipede Be
I bet you’re wondering why you should let this creepy-looking 30-legged critter in your home. Well, let me give you a few good reasons why.
1. It Is Harmless to Humans
While this common house guest may look menacing and venomous (it is), it’s actually not harmful to humans. Don’t get me wrong, it does have fangs. But fortunately, they are not strong enough to pierce human skin. And on the rare occasions that they do manage, the bite will cause a bit of pain but that’s all it will do.
Besides being harmless, house centipedes are also clean insects. They don’t build webs or dig into your furniture in search of a home. That’s because they are active hunters, meaning they are constantly on the move. And once they are done eating, they thoroughly clean themselves – head to every toe. This means they don’t spread dirt around your home.
2. Mother Nature’s Pest Control Specialist
This is one of the main reasons you need one or two house centipedes patrolling in your house. House centipedes are insectivores. That means they prey on and feed on other insects – especially the ones you really shouldn’t have in your house. The house centipede’s menu includes silverfish, spiders, cockroaches, termites, and a whole host of other destructive and potentially dangerous pests.
This is where those creepy looking legs that send a shiver down your spine come to play. With such a large number of legs, it’s easy for the house centipede to chase and catch its prey. But that’s not the only interesting and useful use for those legs. The two front legs double as fangs (maxillipeds) the house centipede uses to inject venom into its victims.
You can’t expect 30 legs to only have 2 uses, can you? Well, let me fill you in on another use before we move on. The house centipede also uses its body and legs as a lasso. It captures its prey by wrapping its body around the prey, and those legs make sure it doesn’t get away.
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I know what you’re thinking – how can something so small keep my home pest free? That’s a great question. House centipedes are known to have a very high metabolic rate. In short, they are always hungry. So yes, they can handle your pests with ease. This also has an economic benefit as you will not have to spend too much on money on pest control, which can be costly at times.
Before you squash every house centipede you see, ask yourself what you’d rather share your house with – house centipedes or other more harmful creepy crawlies?
How to Get Rid of House Centipedes – The Right Way
Ok, so those 2 reasons don’t outweigh the reasons you don’t want to share your house with a house centipede. Time to take out the slipper and squash it like the bug it is, right? Well, no, not exactly.
While squashing them may look like a quick and effective method, you won’t be able to kill the whole house centipede population with your slipper even if you had all the time in the world devoted to it. So how do you make sure you never see them scurrying around your home again? Remove the things that brought them in your house into the first place.
1. Get Rid of Their Habitat
While house centipedes may seem to thrive in any part of the house, the one major factor that keeps them there is humidity. Use a dehumidifier to get rid of humidity in the air.
You can also try and get rid of all sources of moisture in the house, like the water that gets trapped in the sink. Without water and moisture, your home won’t be comfortable for house centipedes and other pests. Which brings us to the second way of evicting house centipedes.
2. Eliminate Their Food Source
Every living thing thrives in an environment that has a good supply of food. For the house centipede, that means other insects. In order to ensure that your unwanted house centipede guests leave your home, eliminate their food source. You can do this by getting rid of moist places that these insects live and reproduce in. these moist spots provide a good breeding ground for many kinds of insects so by getting rid of them, you prevent further breeding.
Another way you can eliminate the house centipede’s food source is by sealing off all cracks that allow insects to invade your home. By caulking up the cracks and gaps in your house, you keep pests and house centipedes in your walls, the perfect feast for house centipedes. This will drive most insects out of your home and the house centipede community will follow suit. This simple fix will also benefit you as it will also help keep water out of your house in the eventuality of a leakage. Remember, moisture is an invitation for many types of insects to move in.
3. Eliminate Their Breeding Places
As said, damp places are like a welcome mat to a house centipede. This is not just because they get a place to cool down. It’s also because damp places provide them with a place to lay their eggs.
Places like basements, bathrooms, behind baseboards, or attics are notorious for being breeding grounds for house centipedes. Take extra care to remove trash and moist soil from these areas as they make perfect nests for house centipedes to lay their eggs in.
The House Centipede – Useful Friend or Unsettling Foe?
At the end of it all, it’s up to you to decide whether the house centipede is a friend or foe.
On the one hand, it eats insects that may otherwise infest your house, thereby controlling pests around your house.
On the other hand, they do look frightening. Enough so that they can be a nightmare – both in your waking and sleeping moments.
Hopefully, now that you have come to know that house centipedes are more useful than they are thought to be harmful, you’ll welcome them into your home.
Need to hire an exterminator? Get a free estimate online from top local home service pros in your area.
But if you can’t stand the thought of sharing your home with a 30-legged freaky looking insect, do the right thing and take preventative measures instead of killing them.
Here’s to a happy pest free home – with or without the house centipede.
Are Centipedes Dangerous?
Yes, certain centipedes are considered dangerous.
How Dangerous are Centipedes?
Centipedes enter homes in fall to escape the cold and hunt for food. They can complete their entire life cycle indoors, feeding on insects while shielded from the elements. Although the pests are generally not harmful, issues can arise when centipedes live close to people.
Are Centipedes Dangerous to Humans?
Biting centipedes use venom inject their prey with toxins. These chemicals harm small insects but pose no serious threat to humans. The worst side effects from centipede bites are usually mild pain and swelling.
To avoid bites while outdoors, be careful when reaching into woodpiles or under stones. The pests lurk in dark, hidden areas and may bite people or pets if they appear to pose a threat.
Are Centipedes Dangerous to Dogs?
Besides a little discomfort, most dogs are unaffected by eating centipedes or receiving a bite. The two animals often come into conflict outdoors when dogs sniff around thick brush or clutter. Pests like ticks and fleas pose a much greater threat to dogs.
Are Centipedes Dangerous to Cats?
When cats see centipedes dashing about, they may give chase. These clashes take place in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements. Centipede bites do not cause any known health issues for cats.
Responding to Infestations
Centipedes are most active at night because they shy away from light and are nocturnal hunters. Their presence often points to further pest problems, as they feed on ants, spiders, and crickets. While centipedes are not dangerous, their fast movements and alarming appearance make many people uneasy.
Even though venom from most species of centipedes is not powerful enough to affect larger animals and humans, the pests remain unwelcome in most homes. Orkin has the tools and know-how to get rid of centipedes when they move indoors.
How Aggressive Are Common Centipede Species?
The most common centipede found in the eastern part of the United States is the house centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata), which is the only species of centipede known to reproduce in homes.
While house centipedes can inflict a bite, it is of minor consequence and it rarely does so. When given the chance, house centipedes prefer to quickly retreat from danger rather than bite.
Typical symptoms from a house centipede bite are slight pain and swelling as their weak jaws rarely allow them to break skin.
Giant Desert Centipedes
On the other hand, the giant desert centipede (Scolopendra heros) found in the Southwest, is a very large centipede that can reach 8 – 10 inches in length. They are somewhat aggressive and will readily bite a perceived threat.
Symptoms of a giant desert centipede bite include intense pain, inflammation, redness, and swelling.
Generally, these symptoms subside in a matter of several hours; however, bite victims that are more sensitive to the centipede’s venom may experience vomiting, dizziness, headache, and irregular pulse rates.
Identifying a Centipede Bite
Centipedes have a uniquely structured first pair of legs, which are used as claws to grasp, penetrate, and inject venom into their prey. Generally, centipede bites appear to have two puncture wounds and look similar to a spider bite.
In the event of a centipede bite, it is always best to contact a health care professional.
Not only can they provide recommendations regarding treatment, but they can also provide information to help you reduce the likelihood of secondary infection from improper wound care.
Centipedegrass Yearly Maintenance Program
Factsheet | HGIC 1215 | Updated: Aug 31, 2018 | Print | Download (PDF)
Centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides) is a slow-growing, apple-green colored, coarse-leaved turfgrass that is adapted for use as a low maintenance, general purpose turf. It requires little fertilizer, infrequent mowing, and will tolerate moderate shade. However, in order for centipedegrass to grow well, it needs at least 6 hours of full sun. It does not tolerate traffic, compaction, high phosphorus soils, high soil pH, low-potassium soils, excessive thatch, drought, or heavy shade. See HGIC 1209, Centipedegrass for additional information on care and cultivar selection.
Centipedegrass is a slow-growing, apple-green colored, coarse-leaved, low maintenance turfgrass.
Bert McCarty, ©2015, Clemson University
Producing a yearly maintenance calendar for managing turfgrass consistently year after year can be difficult in a state with such a diverse climate as South Carolina. Because of this, it is important to monitor temperatures and apply the needed management practices based on that year’s climate. Important times to monitor the weather are during late winter or early spring when the turf is coming out of dormancy and early fall when the first frost is forecasted. Last frost dates and first frost dates can vary by several weeks to a month from coastal areas of South Carolina to the foothills of the Upstate.
This turfgrass maintenance calendar may be used on turf grown throughout the state; however, management practices may need to be adjusted based on the year’s climate and the region where the turf is grown.
January through April
Mowing: Mow the lawn slightly lower than the regular summer mowing height. The mower setting should be around 1-inch high. Be careful not to set the mower too low, as it might scalp the lawn. This height reduction should be done just before the time of lawn green-up, which usually occurs during late April or early May. If possible, use a mower with a bagger to collect the clippings and remove any dead material left from winter dormancy. Be sure to use a sharpened mower blade. Alternatively, the lawn can be hand raked to remove the excessive dead leaf material from the lawn surface.
A sharp mower blade will cleanly cut the grass blades as opposed to tearing the leaves. Dull mower blades rip rather than cut the grass and make the grass more susceptible to diseases. Sharpen the mower blade annually or as needed.
The date of initial turf green-up can be quite variable. In the coastal and more Southern regions of South Carolina, this generally will occur sometime during April, but further inland, this may be as late as mid-May. It is not unusual for centipedegrass to green up and be burnt back several times during the late winter or early spring due to late season frosts. Because of possible injury to the lawn and the potential fire hazard, do not burn off centipedegrass to remove excessive debris. For more information on mowing, refer to HGIC 1205, Mowing Lawns.
Thatch Removal: If a thatch layer becomes a problem, use a dethatcher or vertical mower to remove it. Consider dethatching centipedegrass when the thatch layer is greater than ¼ inch. For best results, use a dethatcher with a 2- or 3-inch blade spacing set a ¼-inch depth. Do not use a power rake with a 1-inch blade spacing, as severe turf injury may result. Use a lawn mower with a bag attached or hand rake to collect and properly dispose the turf material pulled up. For more information on thatch removal, see HGIC 2360, Controlling Thatch in Lawns.
Aerification: Core aeration is the process of punching small holes in the turf and into the soil to alleviate compaction, thus allowing air to get to the root system. This will help to correct problems associated with poor infiltration and drainage. Once the threat for frost has passed and the lawn has fully greened-up, lawn aerification may be combined with dethatching to alleviate any soil compaction problems.
However, if a pre-emergent herbicide was applied during late February to mid-March, postpone any cultivation practices that will disturb the soil until just before the next pre-emergent herbicide application date. Pre-emergent herbicides will create a barrier that keeps weed seeds from germinating. Disturbing the soil after an application will allow weeds to emerge through this barrier. For more information on aerification, refer to HGIC 1200, Aerating Lawns and HGIC 1226, Turfgrass Cultivation.
Weed Control: To control crabgrass, goosegrass, sandspurs, and other summer annual weeds, apply a pre-emergent herbicide early in the year. Approximate application times are mid-February in the coastal and central areas and mid-March in the piedmont/mountain areas. A second application is needed approximately 8 to 10 weeks after the initial application to give season long control of annual grassy and broadleaf, warm-season weeds.
Apply selective post-emergent herbicides as needed to control existing winter grassy and broadleaf weeds. In general, do not apply post-emergent herbicides during the spring green up of the turf. If a weed problem begins and the grass has begun to green with warmer temperatures, wait until the grass has fully greened before applying a post-emergent herbicide. In the meantime, mow and bag the weeds. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides, such as 2,4-D, not only during spring green up, but during hot summer temperatures. Follow label directions for use of any herbicide and use with caution during these times. For more information on weed control, please see HGIC 2310, Managing Weeds in Warm-Season Lawns.
Insect Control: Cold winter temperatures will usually help keep insect problems at bay. As temperatures start to warm in late spring, monitor for mole cricket activity. If mole cricket activity is observed, apply a lawn insecticide if damage is excessive. If the damage is minimal, wait before applying an insecticide. This is not the best time to apply an insecticide for insect control because of cool soil temperatures and reduced insect activity. However, an early spring warm-up can lead to significant mole cricket activity. Heavy populations can be reduced through appropriately timed insecticide treatments during this period. For more information on mole cricket, see HGIC 2155, Mole Cricket Management in Turfgrass.
If grubs (the white larvae of beetles, such as Japanese beetles) have been a problem in previous years, monitor for grubs by cutting a square foot piece of sod on three sides and peel it back. If more than six grubs are found under the sod piece, apply a lawn insecticide labelled for grub control according to label directions. For more information on white grub management, see HGIC 2156, White Grub Management in Turfgrass.
Fertilization: Fertilization of centipedegrass should be based on soil test results, and this is a good time to test soil. However, fertilizers containing nitrogen should not be applied during this period. If new turfgrass growth is encouraged by fertilization during the early spring, and it is followed by a late frost, this can result in significant damage to the lawn. See HGIC 1652, Soil Testing for instructions on how to properly do a soil test.
Irrigation: During dormancy, water the lawn to prevent excessive dehydration. Winter desiccation can be a problem during dry winters. Watering to prevent drought stress can help eliminate turf loss during winter.
Most areas of South Carolina receive enough rainfall during the winter to avoid winter desiccation of lawns. However, this is not always the case. Monitor the winter rainfall on a regular basis and apply water to the turf if no measurable rain occurs over a 3 to 4 week period. This is especially important if warm, bright days precede days forecasted to be in the low 20’s or colder. The added moisture in the soil will help keep the growing points of the turf warmer, preventing crown death.
To manage a lawn, it is important to know the soil texture in the top foot of soil. Sandy soils do not hold moisture well since they drain freely and dry out quicker. Clay soils, however, will hold moisture for a longer period of time. Do not allow the lawn to stay excessively wet if the lawn has a clay soil. If the soil stays saturated all winter, this can cause many other problems. A soil probe can be used to monitor the soil moisture. For more information, refer to HGIC 1207, Watering Lawns and HGIC 1225, Conserving Turfgrass Irrigation.
May Through August
Mowing: The ideal mowing height for centipedegrass is from 1 to 2 inches, depending on the specific site and management regime and is best determined by the conditions in the lawn. Lawns in partial shade are better mowed at 2 inches high.
Start the season by mowing the lawn at a height of 2 inches based on a bench mark setting. This is the measured distance from the mower blade to a hard surface and can easily be determined by using a small ruler. Over the next several mowings, gradually reduce the mowing height in as small an increment as possible. Monitor the lawn after each mowing. Once a height is reached where the grass does not look good anymore, it looks too thin or scalped, raise the mowing height back to the previous setting.
During periods of environmental stress due to high temperatures or a lack of rainfall, raise the mowing height ½ to 1 inch until the stress is eliminated. Always mow with a sharp blade using a mulching type mower, which leaves the clippings to decompose on the turf. The mower blade needs to be sharpened on a regular basis – usually about once a month or at least before the growing season starts. If the bag is picking up soil, especially sand, when the lawn is mowed, then the blade may need to be sharpened more often than once a month.
Fertilization: Always fertilize and add lime or sulfur based on a soil test. Centipedegrass will grow best at a pH of 5.5 to 6.0. Many soils along the coastal plains and into the midlands of South Carolina have soil a pH higher than what centipedegrass prefers. If a soil test shows a higher pH, sulfur can be applied to lower it. Apply 5 pounds of pelletized sulfur per 1000 square feet of turf. Apply sulfur only when the air temperatures are below 75 °F. In 3 months, recheck the soil pH to see what change was made. It may take several years for a large pH change to occur. Soils in the Upstate are typically acidic and usually do not need sulfur.
Established centipedegrass should not receive phosphorus fertilizer unless a soil test indicates that it is deficient. Centipede lawns should receive 1 to 2 pounds of actual nitrogen per year per 1000 square feet of turf. The higher rate may be chosen for centipedegrass lawns on sandy soils and the lower rate for lawns growing on clay soils. Applying more than 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet per year may be harmful to the centipede turf by creating excessive thatch and increasing the chance of turfgrass disease.
Early Summer: Apply ½ to 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet in early May after the lawn fully greens up. The rate will depend on soil type. A soil test will help determine if a fertilizer containing phosphorous is required for best growth of the turf. See the section on fertilizer calculations below to determine how much granular fertilizer needs to be applied.
Late Summer: Fertilize with ½ to 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet depending on the soil type using a high potassium fertilizer, such as
15-0-15. Make this last fertilizer application before August 15 in the Upstate and before September 1 along the coast. Potassium is needed late in the growing season as the grass goes into dormancy for added disease protection and winter hardiness.
Nutrient Deficiencies: A yellow appearance during the growing season may indicate an iron deficiency due to excessive phosphorus and/or a high soil pH. A long-term approach is needed to correct either cause, but iron can be added to quickly enhance turf color between the spring and summer fertilizer applications.
NOTE: A yellow appearance may also arise in early spring. This could indicate an iron or manganese deficiency due to soil temperatures lagging behind air temperatures, high pH soils, or high phosphorous levels. Spraying with liquid iron (ferrous sulfate) at 2 ounces in 3 to 5 gallons of water per 1,000 square feet or applying a chelated iron product will help to enhance turf color. Fertilizing with a micronutrient fertilizer, such as manganese sulfate, can help alleviate manganese deficiencies. However, as the soil temperatures start to climb, the yellowing should slowly go away. Lime or sulfur may also be added if a soil test indicates a need. Be aware, it could take several months for lime and sulfur applications to begin to affect the soil pH.
Fertilizer Calculations: To determine the amount of granular fertilizer needed to apply ½ pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, divide 50 by the first number on the fertilizer bag. To determine the amount of product required to apply 1 pound of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, divide 100 by the first number on the fertilizer bag. This will give the number of pounds of product to apply to 1000 square feet of turf. See HGIC 1201, Fertilizing Lawns for more information.
Irrigation: Water to prevent drought stress. Monitor the lawn on a regular basis to assess the need for irrigation. When the entire lawn appears dry, apply ¾ to 1 inch of water the next morning. Wait to irrigate again when the lawn shows moisture stress. There are several ways to determine when the lawn needs watering. One way is to monitor the lawn daily. When the turf begins to dry, it will appear to have a bluish color. Another method is to walk across the lawn late in the evening. If the grass blades in the footprints rebound, there is plenty of moisture in the turf. If the grass in the footprints do not rebound, then water the next morning.
The irrigation interval will vary from site to site depending on the environmental conditions at that site and soil type. The general rule for turfgrass irrigation is to water “deeply and infrequently”. Localized dry spots or hot spots can be watered by hand as needed. For more information on turfgrass watering, see HGIC 1225, Conservative Turfgrass Irrigation.
Insect Control: There are various insects that may attack centipedegrass during the summer months. Mole crickets, spittlebugs, grubs, ground pearls, as well as nematodes, can cause considerable damage. Each pest problem has its own management strategy and is usually handled with cultural and chemical controls. However, there can be exceptions. Mole cricket and grub eggs will usually hatch mid-summer. An insecticide application targeted at the smaller nymphs is the most effective control even if damage has not yet occurred. If either of these insects was a problem early in the season, apply an insecticide in mid-July to control the younger immature insects.
If an insect problem occurs, it is important to positively identify the problem and select the appropriate insecticide to apply. Contact the local County Extension Office or the Home & Garden Information Center for positive identification and proper management strategies. See fact sheets HGIC 2156, Whitegrub Management in Turfgrass, HGIC 2155, Mole Cricket Management in Turfgrass, and HGIC 2488, Two-lined Spittlebug.
Disease Control: The most common disease that affects centipedegrass during the growing season is large patch, formerly known as brown patch. Large patch is a fungal disease that is active during warm, humid spring and fall weather. Since it is fueled by moisture, it is important use proper watering practices, as well as provide adequate drainage.
If the turf does stay wet, circular yellow to brown areas may start to develop and slowly grow in size. Later, the center of the circle may start to re-green. In heavily infested turf, the rings may grow together and no longer appear circular. If the turf at the edge of the dying area shows a smoky brown, rotted appearance, it will be necessary to apply a fungicide treatment. Overall, proper water management and thatch control are essential to curtail large patch problems. Additionally, fertilize the centipede lawn according to recent soil test recommendations. For more information, see HGIC 2150, Brown Patch & Large Patch Diseases of Lawns.
Weed Control: A selective, annual grass or broadleaf weed control pre-emergent herbicide that is labeled for use on centipedegrass and applied during late winter and spring will reduce many weeds the following summer. If a pre-emergent herbicide was not applied in the spring, the resulting weeds will need to be controlled using post-emergent herbicides.
Use a product containing the active ingredient sethoxydim to control annual grassy weeds, such as crabgrass, goosegrass, and sandspurs. Sedges, or nut grass, are controlled by using a product containing the active ingredient imazaquin. Broadleaf summer weeds, such as spurge and annual lespedeza are controlled by using a broadleaf weed herbicide, which is sometimes referred to as a 3-way mix and contains 2,4-D, dicamba, and mecoprop. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides, such as 2,4-D, so follow label directions and use with caution. Always apply herbicides to turfgrass and weeds that are actively growing and are not suffering from drought or heat stress. Do not apply herbicides unless turfgrass and weeds are actively growing and are not suffering from drought or heat stress. Do not apply herbicides to the lawn if the temperature is over 90 °F. Use herbicides with caution while the turf is emerging from winter dormancy as well. Do not mow the lawn 3 days prior or 2 days after application. As with all pest control, proper weed identification is essential. Contact the local County Extension Office or the Home & Garden Information Center for identification and control of weeds in the lawn. For more information on weed control, see HGIC 2310, Managing Weeds in Warm Season Lawns.
Renovation: Replant large bare areas in May using sod, seed (¼ to ½ pound per 1,000 square feet) or sprigs (5 bushels per 1,000 square feet). Mixing seed with 2 gallons of fine sand per 1,000 square feet will aid in distribution. Germination is expected in 28 days and establishment is slow. To ensure good germination, keep the seedbed moist with light, frequent sprinklings several times a day. It is not uncommon for it to take three years for a new lawn from seed to become uniform and dense. For more information, refer to HGIC 1204, Lawn Renovation.
September through December
Mowing: Continue to mow the centipedegrass lawn at the normal mowing height until the weather starts to cool in the fall. Once nighttime temperatures fall below 70 °F, raise the mower blade height to approximately 2 inches to allow for more leaf surface. This will allow the turf to become acclimated by the time the first frost occurs.
Fertilization: Do not apply nitrogen at this time. Lime or sulfur may be added if recommended by a recent soil test. Potassium, commonly known as potash, may be applied to enhance winter hardiness if a recent soil test indicates insufficient levels of potassium. Apply 1 pound of potash (K2O) per 1,000 square feet 4 to 6 weeks before the first expected frost by using 1.6 pounds of muriate of potash (0-0-60) or 2 pounds of potassium sulfate (0-0-50) per 1000 square feet.
Irrigation: In the absence of rainfall, continue to water the lawn to prevent drought stress. After the lawn has become dormant, water as needed to prevent excessive dehydration. This is especially important if warm, bright days preceed days forecasted to be in the low 20’s or lower.
Insect Control: Any insects that were missed during the nymphal stage in the summer will have grown to a size where damage is occurring. Apply an insecticide to reduce the population and reduce further turf damage. This is best done before the first frost.
Disease Control: For disease control, especially large patch, it is extremely important to treat with fungicides during the fall months. With warm temperatures through September and the possibility of excessive rainfall that may occur during that period, diseases can spread rapidly. However, with cooler nights and shorter day lengths, control can be quite difficult because of slow turf recovery during this time. Turf weakened by disease in fall will be slow to recover in the spring; therefore, fungicide applications are needed to control disease before the grass goes dormant. In certain situations where large patch has been prevalent yearly, preventative fungicide applications may be needed starting in early October to stay ahead of the disease. For more information on disease control, please see HGIC 2150, Brown Patch & Large Patch Diseases of Lawns.
Weed Control: Many winter annual grassy and broadleaf weeds can be managed by applying a pre-emergent herbicide in September with a second application 8 to 10 weeks later. Follow all label directions on the product for application rate. Granular herbicides must be watered into the soil soon after application. Follow label directions as to post application watering.
Selective, post-emergent herbicides can be applied as necessary for control of chickweed, henbit, and other cool-season broadleaf weeds. Centipedegrass is sensitive to certain herbicides, such as 2,4-D, so follow label directions for reduced rates and use with caution. Spray sufficiently to wet the foliage, but do not spray excessively. Repeat application in 10 to 14 days, if needed. Selected herbicides can also be applied in the winter for control of annual bluegrass and other winter annual grassy weeds. Contact the local County Extension office or the Home & Garden Information Center for weed identification and control measures.
If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at [email protected] or 1-888-656-9988.
Tim Davis, Former Extension Agent, Clemson University
Chuck Burgess, Former HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University
Gary Forrester, Horticulture Extension Agent, Horry County Extension Service, Clemson University
Joey Williamson, PhD, HGIC Horticulture Extension Agent, Clemson University
This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.