Moss, Fungus and Japenese Beetles- How Can I Get Rid of It?

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Some excellent questions came into the Caldwell Extension Center this week, and I’d like to share a few of them with you. I hope you find these questions and their answers helpful. If you have a specific question not answered here, please contact the Caldwell Extension Center directly.

Q: How do I get rid of moss growing in my lawn?

A: Moss grows in areas where conditions will not support healthy grass. Most common causes are soil compaction, excess moisture, shade, or very low pH, and usually, it is a combination of several of these factors. There is no real quick fix. Conditions will have to be corrected for grass to grow. It may be easier to convert the area to plants more suitable for the growing conditions. This can include shade loving native plants and using a wood mulch to cover the bare ground.

If you want to grow grass, then I would conduct a soil test to understand the fertility problems. I would also kill the moss by following the procedure outlined in the factsheet by Clemson University Extension. (

Q: What is attacking the tree in my front yard? What should I do?

A: This is a fungus.

fungus on a red maple.

The dead wood in this maple tree is being decomposed by a saprophytic fungus. This fungus indicates it is time to contact a tree service.

Fungi are organisms that lack chlorophyll and conductive tissue. Until a few years ago, fungi were considered lower forms of plants, but today are classified as a group by themselves. Because fungi cannot use sunlight to manufacture their own food, they obtain energy from other sources. Usually these energy sources are nonliving organic matter. Nonliving organic matter is stuff like wood, leaves, grass clippings, etc. Fungi that feed on these types of energy sources are classified as saprophytes.

This fungus is an opportunist, attacking dead wood in the tree. This fungi is not killing the tree. At this point I would get a few estimates to have the tree taken down. This is something I like to call ground level pruning. There is no huge rush, but I would do something in the next 3 to 6 months.

Q: Japanese beetles have been a real problem on my roses for the last several years. I use Japanese beetle traps. Is there anything else I can do?

A: Japanese beetles were first reported in North America in 1916. Adult Japanese beetles typically emerge in Caldwell County around the last week of May to the first week of June. They feed on over 275 plants, but as many know, roses seem to be their favorite food.

Japanese beetle traps are not control devices. The traps are more effective at attracting Japanese beetles than trapping them. Another problem with traps is if they are not emptied regularly, ammonia is released from the rotting beetles. This further reduces the number of beetles that enter the trap.

If traps are used, they should be placed as far away from prize plants as possible. I jokingly recommend to put the traps in the neighbor’s yard.

It is possible to use the beetles natural behavior against them. Japanese beetles like to aggregate or mass together when feeding. A small number of beetles will attract other beetles during the day. To stop this, shake your plants each morning so the beetles drop into a bucket or jar of soapy water. By doing this, other beetles are less likely to be attracted to your plants.

If you don’t like shaking and hand picking beetles out of your roses, you can protect them with cheesecloth or other fine mesh. And of course insecticide options are also available. There are many that work well, but with a little hand picking, you may be able to tackle the problem yourself.

For answers to your agricultural questions, call the Caldwell County Extension Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us online anytime at