Once you have planted grass, trees or flowers in your lawn and have positioned them exactly how you want them, you will want to do all you can to protect your plants. Several pests can make their way into the lawn and drain your grass and decorative plants of nutrients. Some of these pests can also leave holes or indentions in the lawn and eat the edible garden plants on your property. To keep your lawn looking great and in good health, here are some practical tips to keep in mind.
Identifying Garden Pests and Their Damage
One of the most effective ways to reduce the amount of pests in your lawn is to know the life cycle and characteristics of pests and treat the issues right away.
A few signs that indicate that pests are on your lawn include brown spots in the grass and dead or dying patches of grades. You may also notice that some of the blades are wilting, and some pests leave bite marks on plants. If there are holes in the soil or some of the roots are missing, these are signs that you have lawn pests.
Here are a few insects to look out for.
Grubs are beetle larvae. These young beetles are considered the most damaging when it comes to lawn pests. White grubs are the larvae of scarab beetles, and these include Japanese beetles and masked chafers. These grubs are often found in lawns during the spring, summer, and early part of autumn. The bugs are C-shaped and white. They feed on the roots of grass right below the surface of the soil.
Grubs that grow in common beetles like masked chafers live for about one year. In the middle of summer, adult beetles mate. The female lays the eggs in the soil. The beetle eggs hatch in around two weeks, which means new grubs, will start feeding on the roots of grass quickly. As the weather gets colder, maturing grubs burrow themselves in the ground and are dormant in winter. In the spring, the ground warms up and the white grubs come up from their hibernation to start feeding on grassroots again. The grubs stop eating and pupate in the summer, when they grow into adult beetles.
If you see wilted blades of grass, brown spots in your lawn and dead grass, this is likely a result of grub damage. Soil that has been inhabited by grubs is spongy and will easily lift during the warmer months of the year. When you lift the soil, you will see the grubs hiding underneath. If you notice that moles, skunks and crows start coming to your yard often, this is a sign that grubs are likely taking over your yard.
If you have turf grass, be on the lookout for cinch bugs. These insects come in various forms, like the hairy cinch bugs, which is common in several parts of the United States. Cinch bugs suck the sap from blades of grass. The bug’s secret an anticoagulant substance during feeding. This substance stops the grass from absorbing moisture, which causes the grass to wither and die.
Cinch bugs produce no less than two generations from spring to the early part of autumn. The eggs take about a month to hatch and the young cinch bugs or nymphs start feeding on the grass right away. Nymphs are fully mature in about a month and mate soon after maturity. Once the weather cools down, adult cinch bugs use the base of grass blades for shelter. They are dormant there all winter, and become active again in the spring.
If you notice lawn damage during summer and early fall, cinch bugs could be the cause. This is the time of year when the bugs are actively feeding on grass. If you see that parts of your lawn are yellow or purple before turning brown, this is a symptom of cinch bug infestation as well.
These worms are actually the larvae of the sod webworm moth. The young worms grow to be about an inch and turn green or brown with dark spots. Once the worms mature into moths they take on a grayish tan color and have a protrusion that resembles a double snout.
Every year, sod webworms produce two or three generations. This occurs during spring and summer. Adult moths lay their eggs at night in the grass, and the eggs hatch within a week. The larvae make silken burrows in the lawn and hide during the day. During the night, the larvae feed on the grass. It takes about five weeks for the larvae to become adult moths.
You will likely see many holes in your lawn from birds that are searching for the webworms. Sod webworms eat grass blades and stems, so look for brown patches in the lawn as well. To verify that your lawn has been infested by sod webworms, check at the turf level for the silk burrows the larvae like to hide in.
Armyworms can quickly ruin a lawn. The pests are usually one or two inches long. They are a variety of colors, including pink, gray, or yellow. These worms eventually grow into brown moths that are easy to spot in the dark. The moths are drawn to light and their abdomens are covered in fur.
During spring and summer, armyworms can produce up to three generations. Female armyworms leg small white clusters of eggs that hatch within seven days. For two or three weeks, the larvae will feed on grass stems and blades before transforming into moths. These pests can also literally suck the life out of other plants on your property as well. Armyworms are most commonly seen on the lawn during the evening or night hours, and sometimes at down. You will notice circular bare patches in the lawn and it may even look like your lawn is moving in some spots if you have an armyworm invasion.
Preventing Lawn Pest Infestation
In many cases, significant damage is done to your lawn before you truly notice it. Inspect your lawn often and point out any holes or bare spots to your landscaper. At Cortada Landscaping, we offer a variety of removal and prevention methods that are safe and effective. Contact us today to find the best solution for your lawn and landscape.