The last thing any homeowner wants is to invest time and money into getting their landscaping exactly how they want it only to have it destroyed by lawn pests. Lawn care is difficult – finding the perfect balance between overwatering and underwatering, fertilizing and aerating, mowing and maintenance. Pest control for your lawn is just another step in your lawn care plan. Here are 5 pests that can destroy your lawn, along with options to treat and prevent them.
Armyworms are smooth skinned pests that range in size from 1 to 2 inches long. Armyworms turn into brown moths when they reach adulthood. Colors range anywhere from yellow and green to dark brown and black with stripes running down their sides. Armyworms feed on grass blades and stems and will also skeletonize leaves on other plants. They will seek shelter from the sun and heat during the day and emerge at night and early morning to feed heavily on your grass. They are known for creating circular bare spots in the lawn as they eat the grass. Signs of armyworms include clusters of eggs, caterpillar frass, and the presence of live worms. Armyworms can be treated with chemical insecticides, diatomaceous earth, or by removing them by hand and dropping them in soapy water. Armyworms can be prevented by aerating annually, fertilizing regularly, and checking for their presence monthly.
Grubs is a broad term for the larvae of most species of beetle including white grubs, masked chafers, june beetles, and japanese beetles. While looks vary among species, grubs are commonly c-shaped pests that are whitish to yellowish in color. Grubs usually feed in late spring, summer and into early fall. Once the weather cools, they burrow deep into the soil and go dormant for winter. Grubs will feed on the roots of grasses just under the surface of the soil, creating irregular patches of damaged turf. The damage usually begins with wilted grass blades and then progresses to brown colored patches and eventually death of the grass. While chemical insecticides will be effective in eliminating grubs, there are non-chemical treatment options, as well. Nematodes are microscopic parasites that can be added to your lawn which invade the grubs’ bodies and kill them. This process takes longer but is less harsh than typical insecticides. Grubs also require moisture to survive. Putting your lawn into drought by not watering for 3 to 4 weeks will make the environment inhospitable for grubs.
There are several different species of chinch bugs that feed on different types of grass. They are easy to recognize but hard to see. Chinch bugs are tiny, measuring about 1/5″. They have black bodies with white wings folded across their backs and a telltale white stripe across their bodies. Chinch bugs are usually active from June to September. These pests literally suck the life out of your lawn by sucking on grass blades and releasing an anticoagulant that makes the grass unable to absorb water, thus drying it out and killing it. Chinch bug damage causes irregular turf patches that start with a purple tinge and then subsequently wilt, yellow, and then turn brown. This damage is commonly mistaken for drought damage. Chinch bugs can be treated with insecticides.
Mole crickets are common lawn pests in the southeastern United States. These destructive pests are 1 to 2 inches long and grayish brown in color. They have spade-like front legs that they use to burrow through the soil along with beady eyes. They are not good at jumping like their cricket cousins. Mole crickets consume grass and roots while burrowing through the soil near the surface. Signs of mole crickets include small mounds of dirt, a spongy lawn, and brown or dead grass. They leave a path of destruction in their wake with raised burrows and brown patches on your turf. You can check for the presence of mole crickets by adding 2 tablespoons of dish soap to a gallon of water and pouring it over a 1 to 2 square foot section of your lawn. If mole crickets are present, they will come to the surface. Once you have identified them as a problem, you can treat with the appropriate insecticides.
Moles are small, burrowing mammals that are mostly blind but have a keen sense of smell. Moles range from 4 to 11 inches long with greyish-brown fur, long thin snouts, and large powerful front feet they use to burrow. Moles live underground and feed on earthworms, grubs, and insects. While these pests don’t eat plants, their burrowing can cause damage to roots and their tunnels allow other pests to access your turf. Moles leave visible trails in your yard and cause brown patches from subsequent root damage. Their tunnels can also cave in easily, putting you at risk for injury and leaving you with a spongy feeling yard. Moles can be trapped and baited. Eliminating their food sources (grubs, earthworms, etc.) can also make your lawn less attractive to them, helping to keep them away.
Whether you have an existing problem with lawn pests or you just want to get a head start on prevention, a local lawn care company can help! Contact them today for a free lawn analysis and an ongoing prevention and maintenance plan tailored to you.