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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Wednesday - May 25, 2011

From: New Braunfels, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Will the native turf grass be a habitat for chiggers?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

"Researchers create perfect Texas lawn"—Article. No mention was made of insect issues with this new type of lawn installation. Will 'chiggers/red bugs' still be an issue?

ANSWER:

Sorry, but the goal here was to develop a native turf grass that uses less water, competes well against weeds, and requires little maintenance such as mowing and fertilizer.   No research went into finding a grass mixture that repels chiggers. Indeed, I doubt if there is such a mixture.  If chiggers are already in the area, I feel certain they will move into the new turf.

Here is a good article from the Missouri Department of Conservation about what chiggers are and how to prevent their attack and treat their bites.  Here is another article from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service that describes their habitat and how to keep your lawn free of them.  Humans aren't the natural hosts of chiggers, so removing habitat that harbors their normal hosts (reptiles, birds, rodents and other small mammals) will help in controlling chigger populations.

 

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