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Lawn Insects

Below you’ll find an easy-to-use insect identifier. Find the pest that’s giving you problems. For a full “turn-key” solution to getting rid of these annoying insects, please contact us. Click Here for the High Resolution PDF.

Types of Lawn Insects

Ant

SYMPTOMS: Most ants do not pose a problem as pests. The Carpenter ant however, is a different story. Carpenter ants may move from decaying portions of the wood into sound lumber in the process of enlarging the nest. They cut galleries with the grain following the softer parts of the wood.

INSECT APPEARANCE: The body of an ant is clearly divided into three sections: the head, the thorax, and the gaster. (The narrow waist is actually within the abdomen, so the part of the abdomen behind the waist is called the gaster.) The waist can be made up of one or two small segments, depending on the species.

LIFE CYCLE: The pupa emerges as an adult. The entire life cycle usually lasts from 6 to 10 weeks. Some queens can live over 15 years, and some workers can live for up to 7 years.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: Fifteen or more larvae per square foot indicates treatment is necessary.

Army Worm

INSECT APPEARANCE: The armyworm caterpillars are light tan to dark brown with yellow, orange, or dark brown stripes down the lengths of their backs. They are 3/4 inch to 2 inches long. Adult moths are tan or mottled gray with a wingspan of about 1 inch. They fly only at night or on overcast days. In daylight, they hide in the soil around grass roots.

LIFE CYCLE: Moths appear in late spring to early summer and lay hundreds of eggs at a time on the grass. Larvae hatch from eggs within 10 days and begin feeding. You may see the larvae hanging from threads on the grass. In the South, there may be as many as six generations a year.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: More than five larvae per square yard indicates infestation.

CONTROL: Apply grub control insecticide in late spring/early summer.

Bill Bug

INSECT APPEARANCE: Billbug larvae-which do most of the damage-are white, legless grubs about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch long, with snouts used for burrowing and chewing off plants.

LIFE CYCLE: Overwintering adults emerge in midspring when they often can be found crawling on sidewalks and driveways. Soon after emerging, they lay eggs on the stems of grass plants. Grubs generally emerge in May or June and then tunnel into the stems, from where they eventually will migrate into the root zone.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: More than one grub per square foot of lawn.

CONTROL: Apply insecticide to lawn in spring when billbugs are actively moving around.

Chinch Bugs

INSECT APPEARANCE: Adult chinch bugs are small, from 1/16 to 1/4 inch long, depending on the species. Most are black with white wings, each of which has a distinctive triangular black mark. Young chinch bugs are smaller, wingless versions of their parents, but are red with a white back stripe.

LIFE CYCLE: Adult chinch bugs overwinter in both the North and South and emerge as early as March. For the rest of the growing season, they feed by sucking the juice from grass blades, injecting a poison that causes blades to turn brown and die. They are especially active during hot, dry weather.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: To find chinch bugs, push a bottomless 2-pound coffee can into the affected lawn area, about 2 inches deep. Fill it with warm water. Any chinch bugs present should float to the surface. If more than 20 chinch bugs appear, control is warranted.

CONTROL: Apply insecticide in mid/ late spring.

Cut Worm

SYMPTOMS: As with armyworms, cutworms leave small, 1- to 2-inch-wide patches of brown grass in newly seeded and established lawns; the plants are eaten off at soil level.

INSECT APPEARANCE: The larvae of cutworms are plump, smooth, and almost always curl up when disturbed. They can be various colors but are most often gray, brown, or black; some are spotted or striped. They often grow to 2 inches long. The moths are dark and fly at night.

LIFE CYCLE: Moths lay their eggs in late summer, and after hatching, cutworm larvae overwinter in trash and clumps of grass. Larvae resume feeding early in spring (and only at night). They mature into moths in July or August.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: If you find more than 10 larvae per square foot, it’s time to act. Cutworms don’t seriously damage grass unless there is severe infestation. More damage can be done by birds scratching at the turf to feed on the larvae.

CONTROL: Apply insecticide in early to mid spring and apply grub control in late spring/early summer.

Grub

SYMPTOMS: Grass grubs attack the roots of most pasture plants, but their numbers are highest under susceptible species such as white clover and ryegrass and very low under the resistant lucerne and Lotus major. Tall fescue supports relatively high populations of grass grub but with little effect on plant production.

INSECT APPEARANCE: The larvae are C-shaped when relaxed, creamy white in color, and have a light tan head and a horseshoe-shaped cluster of anal bristles. They moult (cast their skins) three times. Newly hatched larvae are about 5 mm long and weigh only 2-3 mg.

LIFE CYCLE: Most grass grubs hatch in December and January and pupate 9-10 months later. They are found up to 150 mm below the soil surface. The first larval stage lasts about 3 weeks and the second about 6 weeks. The third instar is present until the following September or October, but completes its growth and stops feeding about July, depending on the conditions. The pupal stage lasts 3-4 weeks.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: Grubs of all species feed on the roots of many plants, but prefer the fibrous roots of turfgrasses. As the root system is destroyed, sections of turf wilt, turn brown and can be easily pulled back to reveal grubs beneath. Secondary damage is also caused by skunks searching for grubs as food. Damage is most severe in the fall and the spring when the grubs are increasing in size rapidly and feeding near the surface.

CONTROL: Apply grub control insecticide in late spring/early summer.

Japanese Beetle

SYMPTOMS: Coming Soon

INSECT APPEARANCE: Coming Soon

LIFE CYCLE: Coming Soon

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: Coming Soon

PYRETHRUM TEST: Coming Soon

CONTROL: Coming Soon

Sod Webworms

SYMPTOMS: One- to two-inch-wide dead patches with grass blades chewed off just above the thatch line. Usually prevalent in the hottest, driest areas of the lawn. Silky white tubes found nestled in the root area.

INSECT APPEARANCE: Sod webworm larvae are slender, grayish, black spotted caterpillars, approximately 3/4 inch long, and sluggish in their activity. They hide during the day in shelters constructed of bits of grass and debris. The buff-colored moths, which fly in zigzag patterns over the lawn at dusk, have two snout-like projections on their heads.

LIFE CYCLE: Overwintering larvae emerge and begin feeding (at night or on overcast days) in spring. They mature into moths in early summer. Throughout the summer, the moths fly over the grass and drop eggs, which hatch into larvae and repeat the feeding cycle on the grass. There may be as many as three generations per season.

DAMAGE THRESHOLD: Fifteen or more larvae per square foot indicates treatment is necessary.

CONTROL: Apply grub control insecticide in mid spring/early summer.

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