Preventing and Treating Lawn Pests

We all know that to maintain a lawn takes time and effort. An attack by insect with a taste for turf can ruin a perfectly fine lawn if not dealt with swiftly.

The first step to identify the pest that are causing trouble. To positively identify the exact pest/ insect can be tricky, but with this guide will help you recognize the most common pests. However, remember that lawns can look sorry for many reasons beyond an insect attack.

Caterpillars

A caterpillar or two won’t do much harm to your lawn, but an army of caterpillars would easily devour your whole lawn. There are many different types of caterpillars that can attack your lawn, but the most common are the armyworm, cutworms and sod webworms.

To find these pest, get down on your knees and start looking between the grass blades. By the most efficient and easiest way would be to do a drench test. Mix water with some soap and pour it over a small area of your lawn. This will bring the caterpillars and worms to the surface. If there is a significant amount of caterpillars present you should consider using insecticides. Remember, never use pesticides if you haven’t positively identified a pest.

Drench test

Mix 4 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid with every gallon of water. Sprinkle the mixture over both dying and healthy areas of grass within a square yard.

The insect will surface after a minute or two. Start counting and keep counting for roughly 10 minutes. If you find more than 15 caterpillars, you should treat your lawn with insecticides.

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Grub worms

The grubs are white, thick worms that feed on the grass roots. This cause the grass to die and leave brown patches on your lawn. You can tell you have an attack by grubs if you can easily pull up the dead grass. The grass turns blueish before it dies and you can sometimes roll the dead turf back like a carpet. By pulling up or rolling back the dead turf you can often find grubs.

To fight back the pest, it is important to understand the life cycle of grubs. The grubs are hatched between July and August. The grubs start straight away to feed on the root system of the grass. By October the Grubs are at its peak consumption and you can see the most damage in your lawn. As the weather gets cooler, the grubs goes deeper and hibernate during the winter months. As the spring arrives, the grubs wake up from hibernation and start eating again. By May to June the grubs transforms into beetles.

To control caterpillars and grubs it can be a good idea to apply an application of pesticide during the spring. The best time is in March or April when the temperature starts to change.

Clinch bugs

Clinch bugs can cause a lot of damage to your lawn. The damage is more noticeable and spread quicker during the dry season. The clinch bug leaves dying and dead areas especially during the mid-summer to early fall. Brown or yellow patches can be as big as two to three feet.

The best way to prevent clinch bugs to become a problem is to water regularly and managing your thatch layer. A thick layer of thatch will improve the bugs living conditions and they can rapidly increase in numbers. A well-managed thatch layer will prevent the clinch bugs from laying their eggs and surviving the winter.

How to get a pest-free lawn

The best way to avoid bugs and pests from damaging your lawn is to keep the grass healthy. A dense and well rooted grass can handle a small infestation of nibbling bugs.

  • Maintain a healthy layer of thatch. Try to limit the layer to maximum ½ inch.
  • Mow the grass regularly. Cut about 1/3 of the grass height.
  • Water the grass slowly and not too often.
  • Fertilize and re-seed areas where the grass is growing thin.
  • Aerate the lawn annually.