Sustainability Topics

What are those brown patches?

Although the combined 6 ½ acres of organic lawns below Parrish Hall are thriving, you might have noticed three large brown patches in front of Mertz Dorm. These are areas where we are killing off a pernicious weed, Cynodon dactylon, aka. wiregrass, bermudagrass, couchgrass, devilgrass, or dogtooth grass. It is a perennial turfgrass grown deliberately in southern regions in lawns, golf courses, and athletic fields.

This patch of lawn has been taken over by wiregrass. photo credit: R. Robert

It is one tough plant: some improved hybrids of the species can be maintained at a height of ¼”! It …

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Removing Invasive Vines

April was invasive plant, pest, and disease awareness month and a great time to remove invasives on your property. As part of our annual Crum Creek Clean-Up on April 29, volunteers continued our ongoing efforts to remove and control invasives in the Crum Woods.  Many large trees were liberated from the strangling vines of English ivy, naturalized wisteria, and Oriental bittersweet.  Home gardeners should attempt to remove these aggressive plants from their properties as well.

The large severed woody stem of the aggressive oriental bittersweet had a strangled hold on this tree. photo credit: R. Robert

Invasive vines compete with …

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Beautiful Biocontrol: The Scoliid Wasp

If, in late summer, you notice a cloud of wasps careening in arcs and figure eights across the surface of the grass, don’t be alarmed and don’t reach for the pesticides.  Celebrate these native beneficials that consume grub larvae and pollinate flowers! They are scoliid wasps– likely Scolia dubia or a close relative.


Although scoliid wasps may look intimidating when they congregate, they will only sting humans if severely harassed. Green June beetle and Japanese beetle grubs, on the other hand, have plenty to fear. A scoliid wasp stings a grub to paralyze it, lays an egg on its …

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