Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


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Q: I need some ideas on plants rabbits won’t eat.

Marsh RabbitA:  Unfortunately, if the animal is hungry enough they will eat most anything. They particularly like vegetable garden plants and most anything in the rose family which includes many of our fruit trees. However, there are a few plants rabbits seem to avoid such as agaves, aloes, Gaillardia spp., cucumber, shrimp plants, euphorbias, plumbago, rosemary, squash, verbena or yucca.  Now, I know someone will call me and tell me they know one of those plants listed was eaten by a rabbit, but remember, if the rabbits are hungry enough anything edible is susceptible. You can use one of the repellents which may help reduce or prevent rabbit damage. These products work by creating an unpleasant odor, taste, or stickiness.

 Apply repellents before damage occurs, and reapply them frequently, especially after a rain, heavy dew, or sprinkler irrigation or when new growth occurs. In all cases, follow the label directions for the repellent.

 The usefulness of repellents is limited. Most, except for some of the taste repellents, can’t be used on plants or plant parts humans eat. Repellents often fail when used in a vegetable garden even if the repellents are registered for use on edible crops. The story of Peter Rabbit should be a warning to us; rabbits will get into a garden – it is just too tempting. 

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Q: I found these critters dead in my garage after I sprayed the lawn with a pesticide. What are they?

Lawn Shrimp

Lawn Shrimp

A:   These creatures are actually terrestrial amphipods which belong to an order of crustacea.  They look very similar to tiny shrimp therefore they were given the common name of lawn shrimp.  Most amphipods live in salt and fresh water but there are a few terrestrial forms. Even though these terrestrial forms live in our landscapes, they still require a moist habitat. The color of terrestrial species varies from pale brown to greenish to brownish black when alive, but they often turn pink to red when they die. Most amphipods are scavengers feeding off mold which can be found in the mulched areas of our flower beds and shrubbery. Terrestrial amphipods live on the surface (top 1/2 inch) of mulch and moist ground. After rains, large numbers of amphipods can migrate into garages or under the doors of houses. When this occurs, they quickly die as they do not have the protective covering (exoskeleton) of crustaceans or insects.  Because they lack an exoskeleton their bodies quickly lose too much moisture and they die.  However, they come into our homes and garages after heavy rains because their bodies will take on too much water and it can also kill them. Most species are active at night.  Since you found large numbers in the garage already dead, it would be best to sweep or vacuum them up. If you find them in the house, be sure to check the weather stripping around doorways. Since terrestrial lawn shrimp do not transmit diseases nor do they destroy any plant material it is best to leave them alone.  In addition, there are no labeled insecticidal recommendations for control. Think of them more as a nuisance rather than a real pest.  For more complete information, take time to look over the UF/IFAS publication titled, “Terrestrial Amphipods or Lawn Shrimp” at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in377