The arrival of spring is good news for your lawn…for the most part. There are, however, some seasonal pests that are known to terrorize the neighborhood this time of year. But don’t worry, Turf Medic’s got your back(yard)!
You may not even know they’re there — these problem makers often work below the surface of your turf. The results of their handy work, though, appear up front and center and can leave you wondering what to do about these tiny terrors.
Below, the Turf Medic team discusses two of the most common springtime menaces, complete with tips on how to identify and treat these annoying aphids!
First up on our list of neighborhood nuisances: the white grub. These creepy crawlers are common in lawns all across America and, in small numbers, help keep your yard healthy by removing excess thatch. When the infestation becomes excessive, however, they begin to eat the roots of your grass, killing it.
Identification 101: Signs of the white grub
White grubs are the larvae from Scarab beetles and in the spring, summer, and fall, these invaders like to attack warm and cool season grasses. They do the most damage from March to May, when they’re entering adulthood and are fully-grown.
If your lawn is infested with white grubs, you might notice:
- Wilted grass
- Spongy turf
- Small brown spots
- Holes from wildlife (who are digging to find grubs)
- Large patches of grass that can be lifted out of the ground easily
If you think you’ve got a grub problem, it’s time to take a closer look. A full-grown white grub is approximately an inch long, white in color with a brown head, has six legs, and forms a “C-shape” when removed from the ground.
This Turf Medic method can help you make a positive identification:
- Cut a 1-square-foot section out of your lawn using a shovel or lawn edgers
- Peel back the grass and soil from this spot
- Dig around the top 1 to 3 inches of soil looking for grubs
- Count the number of grubs you find: 10 or more per square foot indicates an infestation
Get Going, Grubs…
If the white grubs occupying your lawn are already full-grown, they’re probably not eating enough for treatments to be effective. You can try spreading pesticides containing chlorantraniliprole, carbaryl, and trichlorfon in April or early May though. While these efforts may prove futile, they’re your best bet (aside from calling the experts at Turf Medic) for treating a current invasion.
…And Don’t Come Back!
Keeping larvae from hatching in your lawn is the most effective way to decrease your grub population. In addition to regular lawn maintenance, use a natural grub killer, like milky spore or nematodes, on your lawn in the spring, summer, and fall to kill eggs and larvae. In late spring or early summer, apply preventative pesticides that contain thiamethoxam, clothianidin, or imidacloprid. This combination of treatments should keep grubs long gone!
Southern Chinch Bug
The other menacing mite to make our list is the southern chinch bug. You’ll most often find this bothersome bug making its home in St. Augustine grass. They also love sunny areas and tend to gravitate toward thick patches of grass or paved spaces like sidewalks and driveways.
Identification 101: Spotting southern chinch bugs
Damage caused by this pest is sometimes mistaken for brown spot or drought. What really happens though, is these teeny tiny insects suck the fluid out of your grass, injecting a salivary secretion that restricts water and nutrient movement as they go. In turn, the grass wilts and turns yellow or brown in color. You may also notice an increase in weeds or stunted growth in your turf.
Southern chinch bugs are tiny – less than ¼ inch long. In their adolescence, they’re red in color, and as adults, they’re black with a distinctive white “X” on their backs.
Because they’re so small, they can be tough to spot, but the following Turf Medic techniques can help you make an ID:
Method #1: Manual Inspection
Part the grass at the edge of an infected area and use a magnifying glass to examine the soil and base of your turf. You can also hold a blank sheet of white paper behind a blade of grass to spot these itty-bitty bugs.
Method #2: Plastic Bag
Place a 1-square-foot section of lawn in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and sit it in the sun for a few minutes. As it heats up and the bugs emerge, count the number contained in your bag. If you tally at least 20 to 25 chinch bugs, you’ve got an infestation that needs treatment.
Say “So Long” To Chinch Bugs!
Ousting these stubborn pests might be tough – they’re resistant to a number of common pesticides. But the right products can bring success.
Spot treat any damaged sections of your lawn with a broad-spectrum pesticide that contains bifenthrin, trichlorfon, or carbaryl. For a natural solution, try sprinkling diatomaceous earth on infected areas. Maintaining a healthy and balanced lawn and steering clear of St. Augustine grass might be the best way to keep these nuisances at bay, however.
There’s no reason to let springtime lawn pests get you down. Whether you’re struggling with identifying the cause of your yard’s disease, effectively treating these problem bugs, or restoring your law to its full glory once the damage has been done, give the Turf Medic team a shout. We can help you take back your yard!