WPTV is committed to Protecting Paradise. We are focused on environmental issues with a goal of helping to bring awareness to existing problems and search for workable solutions. Have a story idea? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - A virus could be killing your green lawn and there isn’t much you can do to stop it.
“When it gets in a homeowners' association, it can affect hundreds of lawns in that association," said Laurie Albrecht, environmental horticulture agent for UF/IFAS Extension Palm Beach County.
The majority of lawns in Palm Beach County and South Florida are Floratam St. Augustinegrass, which is at risk for lethal viral necrosis.
“The problem with this virus is that it kills the Floratam St. Augustinegrass in three years or less,"
Initial signs of the virus are small.
“Broken yellow streaks along the mid-veins of the ribs of a blade of grass," Albrecht said.
Eventually it kills a lawn and there isn't anything you can apply to your lawn to prevent it or stop it.
“This viral disease cannot be prevented or treated with any chemical. That’s what makes it very difficult. There’s nothing anyone can do to prevent this disease. You can’t put anything on your lawn and once your lawn has this, you cannot cure it," Albrecht said.
The virus was first detected in western Boynton Beach in 2014. It spread to Wellington and it was most recently found in Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach, affecting hundreds of lawns in the area already. A few cases have been found in Martin and Indian River counties.
“If your lawn is being mowed by the same person who is mowing the neighbor’s lawn and the neighbor’s lawn has it, it could be spread that way," Albrecht said.
Contact the UF/IFAS extension office if you believe your lawn could have viral necrosis, which mostly starts to show symptoms when temperatures drop below 70 degrees. If your lawn gets the virus, you can replace it with a more resistant variety.
“It’s already causing some serious financial difficulties and we expect that to rise as we see more and more cases," Albrecht said.