The Yard Butler

Dandelion Infestations: Pest Control or Constricting Weed?

For children, dandelions are the means for making wishes. Kids watch anxiously for the yellow blossoms to transform into perfect puffs for whisking away their heartfelt desires. Once you become a homeowner, however, knowing the truth about these seemingly beautiful additions may change the way you perceive dandelions forever.

Pest attraction, or detraction?

They grow practically anywhere and their seeds spread far and wide, but their effect on insects and hovering pollinators is only slightly beneficial. Dandelions excrete a milky-like latex that actually deter cockchafer larvae. Also known as doodlebugs or May bugs for their seasonal appearances, cockchafer larvae turn into cockchafer beetles, a late-stage pest that feed on flowers, leaves and grass roots. While they may be slightly deterred from eating dandelions, they will continue to damage your surrounding foliage and roots.

While the beetles are away, the dandelions will stay, which still means an overgrown infestation worthy of consideration. With the topic of bees and dandelion pollination so widely discussed in recent months on social media and elsewhere, the fact remains that bees are more attracted to lilacs, sunflowers, lavender, poppies and honeysuckle, making the argument for keeping dandelions in your yard far less convincing in the long run. Parks and fields are prime locations for dandelions to thrive without having to first consider a dandelion ecosystem on your lawn. If you do want to make bigger impacts to improve bee populations and pollination potential, grow your own flower garden with the aforementioned flora in a corner of your yard where bees can congregate; your lawn doesn’t need to be their primary ecosystem.

Why do yards need to be treated for dandelions?

Dandelions aren’t the most noxious of weeds. They don’t have thorns or hard stems that make it painful to walk in your own yard, but they do spread like wildfire. If you see dandelions in your neighbor’s yard, chances are you’ll soon find them in your own. Each yellow flower transforms into puffs of seeds that blow far and wide. Just one dandelion plant has the potential to produce around 15,000 seeds. These seeds can survive up to 6 years once they’re buried in the ground, waiting for the right moment to make their appearance.

What is the potential harm from dandelions to the yard?

Dandelions have long reaching roots extending approximately two feet from the main stock. This can cause them to be very difficult to pull up while uprooting extra topsoil upon extraction. They can also cause grass to get choked out as they steal nutrients from soil, leaving little food for the grass you worked so hard to maintain.

When to treat your yard for dandelions?

Since dandelion seeds have the potential to be carried up to five miles from their original plants, it’s impossible to completely eradicate them from your yard forever. Unfortunately, there’s always a possibility they will return. That doesn’t, however, mean there aren’t effective ways to fight against the little weed.

The best time to attack your dandelion problem is during the fall. During this time, the plants are smaller and tend to respond in favorable ways to most weed killers. Tackling the problem during spring or summer may require extra work to ensure you fully uproot each and every plant. During those months, their waxy leaves will just shrug off most weed killers you may try.

If you’ve been experiencing a rough dandelion year, now is the time to arrange appointments with your local lawn care agency, like Yard Butler, to ensure you won’t be fighting the same battle come next spring. And if you’re concerned about your lack of dandelions attracting pests, Yard Butler can spray for that too! Just give us a call and we can be your one-stop shop for weeds and pests.