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.
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Moles can destroy your perfectly manicured lawn in a matter of days. These small, burrowing insectivores can be found in North America, Europe, and Asia. While they don’t actually eat plants and roots, their burrowing causes significant damage to both lawns and flower beds. Moles can dig up to 18 feet per hour and are most active in early morning and evening.
Moles are small in size, ranging between 4 and 11 inches in length and weighing up to 8 ounces. They are most notable for their long, thin, hairless snouts, small eyes, and lack of external ears. They are usually greyish-brown in color. Moles have large, powerful front feet with webbed toes that they use for burrowing underground while their hindfeet are narrow with slender claws. Moles are nearly blind but they make up for their lack of vision with an exceptional sense of smell.
Moles come into your yard in search of one thing – food! Their diet consists primarily of earthworms and grubs but they will eat other soil-dwelling insects, as well. Moles leave behind a trail of damage when they burrow in your yard, leaving visible trails and brown patches and holes in your lawn. Their tunnels cave in easily, leaving you at risk for injury when you step on them.
Some of the most common signs of moles in your yard are:
- Raised ridges that crisscross across your yard
- Areas of discolored or dead grass
- Raised mounds of dirt (molehills) that mark the entrance/exit of tunnels, usually less than 6″ tall and shaped like a football or volcano
- Areas of loose or squishy soil on your lawn
- An abundance of weeds; moles detach plant roots when they burrow, allowing weeds to take over and flourish
Because moles live underground they can be extremely difficult to prevent. The best treatment for moles is targeted elimination usually through trapping or baiting. It is also important to treat existing tunnels so new moles don’t replace the previously removed moles.
If you have a problem with moles or any other pests, contact your local pest control company who can properly assess your situation and treat it appropriately.
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The last thing any homeowner wants is damage to their yard after all the hard work they’ve put in to get it just right. One of the most destructive pests to yards is the mole. What attracts moles to your yard? How do you get rid of them?
Moles are burrowing insectivores, feasting on a wide variety of lawn insects. They are usually about 6 to 8 inches long with gray to black velvety fur. Moles have slender, hairless snouts and small eyes and ears. They have large front feet with long claws that they use to dig through the dirt. They breed in early spring and are most active then and in the fall. Other than during mating season, moles prefer to be alone; if you have a mole problem you are usually only dealing with one.
Moles are attracted to food sources in your yard, digging through leaving behind tunnels, holes, and mounds of dirt. Moles require quite a bit of food to survive. Common signs of moles include: surface tunnels, dying grass and plants, an increase in weeds, and molehills (which are piles of dirt less than 6 inches tall and shaped like footballs or volcanoes). Moles can dig up to 18 feet per hour. As they dig they detach the roots of plants which not only allows weeds to take root but also kills the lawn, plants, and trees.
- Eliminate food sources. Primary food sources for moles include earthworms, grubs, ants, mole crickets, and other lawn insects. Use products specifically labeled to treat these pests and employ methods to minimize their presence in your yard to also help prevent moles from coming in search of them.
- Don’t overwater. Moles like soft, damp earth (and so do earthworms, which they love to eat). Try not to overwater your lawn to limit both mole and earthworm activity. Most lawns only need 1″ of water per week (whether through irrigation or rain). Set sprinklers on timers and turn them off on days it rains. Try to water early in the morning so the water has time to evaporate before nightfall, helping keep the soil dry.
- Apply repellents. Moles dislike the smell and taste of castor oil. Most mole repellents utilize this as the base product, making them effective at deterring them from your yard. Mole repellents should be applied monthly while moles are active.
- Use traps and baits. These methods are best used in fall and spring when mole activity is at its peak. The first step is to identify an active runway the mole is using. This can be done by poking holes in the top of a tunnel and watching it; if the damage is repaired within 1 to 2 days, that is an active tunnel. Place the trap or bait in this active tunnel.
- Call a professional. Moles can be difficult to eliminate without the professional expertise of a wildlife control specialist. These technicians know how to track moles, where to place traps, what baits to use, how to treat the tunnels so new moles don’t replace the eliminated ones, and how to monitor the tunnels to ensure the moles have been removed properly.
If you have a problem with moles or any other wildlife, contact your local pest control company for a comprehensive evaluation and elimination plan.
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Stop the Overwintering Pest Invasions
A very common misconception is that moles hibernate during the winter. This is, in fact, not true. Moles do not hibernate and are quite active during the winter months. They actually remain active all winter long, continuing to dig and eat voraciously. Moles are omnivores that prefer to feast on grubs, earthworms, and other bugs. As the soil freezes, moles move from tunneling near the surface to digging deeper in the ground. When the weather starts to warm, the moles will tunnel closer and closer to the surface as the soil thaws and becomes easier to navigate.
Moles can wreak havoc on your lawn and garden. Moles cause dead grass patches because their tunneling disrupts the root system of grass. This creates patches that often start out yellow and eventually turn a light tan color. They also push soil and grass up as they dig, creating random mole hills across your yard. While these are easy to spot in the summertime, they can often go undetected in the winter months, giving you less opportunity to identify and eliminate them early. Because of this, it is important to take precautionary measures early before the winter season sets in. Here are some steps you can take for mole prevention this winter.
Keep It Dry
Overuse of sprinklers and irrigation systems can lead to saturated, loose soil – an ideal environment for moles. This loose soil is much easier to tunnel through and is often rich with earthworms and grubs, making it a literal feast for moles. Heavy rainfall can also create these conditions so it is important to be vigilant after storms. Limit watering unless necessary.
Lay Mulch Later
Mulch is a very effective insulator for plants during cold weather. While we are usually inclined to go ahead and mulch before the cold weather sets in, this creates an insulated environment for moles, as well as your plants. Instead of installing mulch in early fall, try to wait until after the first frost. Hopefully by that point, moles and other pests have established themselves in a more hospitable environment than in your yard.
Physical barriers can be very effective at preventing more damage to flowerbeds and trees. These barriers can be in the form of hardware cloth liners in the bottom and sides of flowerbeds or across the top of the bed to prevent digging or wrapped around the base of trees. By preventing them from digging you can limit the damage inflicted and hopefully encourage them to move on to another yard.
Utilize Natural Predators
Cats, snakes, and birds of prey are the most common natural predators of moles. Cats are especially notorious for pest prevention and rodent control around properties. If you don’t already have a cat, you may consider adopting one to roam your property and provide you with free pest control. Although it may be difficult, reconsider killing that snake you find on your property as they are also excellent at controlling rodent and other pest populations.
Eliminate Food Sources
As mentioned above, moles prefer to feed on earthworms, grubs, and other insects. In fact, mole problems often arise because of underlying grub problems. Be proactive in eliminating grubs and other pests from your yard to help control mole populations, as well.
Call A Professional
The cliche of “making a mountain out of a mole hill” isn’t far from the truth. Mole problems can manifest quickly into mole infestations and they can be extremely difficult to control and eliminate. Consider contacting a professional pest control company and setting up ongoing pest control services as these scheduled visits can help identify mole problems early and help resolve your mole issue quickly.
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Moles, a year-round pest nuisance, can cause significant damage to your lawn by burrowing into the ground to create tunnels underneath – usually indicated by above-ground dirt mounds (shown below) – to provide shelter and search for food. Although they’re rarely seen, you can identify them by their gray to brown color, webbed front feet, and long nose. Their front feet are so large that they’re able to dig about a foot per minute – that’s a lot of lawn damage in a short amount of time! Moles eat insects – mostly earthworms & grubs – in large amounts each day and search for meals by tunneling underground, which is what creates the dirt mounds all over your yard, a result of soil being pushed up to the surface.
If moles are causing damage to your lawn, there are a few things you can do to prevent and get rid of them – including the use of repellents, baiting, trapping, and grub control.
Mole repellents can be purchased from your local garden store or, for a more DIY approach, made at home using a caster oil mixture. This method can be effective if the entire yard is treated with the repellent, but will only work for a short amount of time. Once the repellent’s scent diminishes, the moles may return.
Mole baits can be effective if applied properly, but are not usually recommended since the products can be harmful to other animals that come in contact with them.
The most effective method of getting rid of moles is usually trapping, preferably by a trained wildlife control specialist. Professional mole control includes identifying mole tunnels, monitoring activity, and then setting traps.
You can also help to prevent a mole invasion by limiting their food supply – grubs – with lawn care treatments. As an added bonus, you’ll be reducing the amount of grubs feeding on your lawn!