It’s important to learn about all the different pests and lawn bugs that can invade and damage your lawn. It’s equally important to arm yourself with a plan for treating it and ensuring your grass stays healthy and gorgeous all year long. When it’s thick, beautiful, healthy and green, your lawn can be an inviting part of your landscape, and the first impression people get when visiting or driving by. However, if your lawn is brown and struggling to survive because of pest invasion, it doesn’t take long for it to lose the appeal it once had.
Let’s start by identifying all the common lawn bugs found in grass and learn the damage they can cause. The best method for controlling lawn pests is to know exactly which bug you’re dealing with, knowing it’s life cycle, and treating the problem correctly and promptly.
Look for the common signs. You’ll know that the lawn bugs have invaded when your grass has brown spots, dying patches, blades that wilt, blades with bite marks, and of course, visible insects crawling or flying in the turf layer. If you notice holes in the turf or can see very short roots, it is an indication that the pest is underground.
Lawn Bugs That Can Cause Damage to Your Lawn
Grubs (also known as beetle larvae)
This is, without a doubt, the lawn bug that can cause the most damage to your lawn. White grubs (known as Phyllophaga) are lawn destroying insects. During the spring, summer and fall, this fat, c-shaped critter feasts on the roots of your grass from just below the surface of the soil.
Life cycle: White grubs complete their life cycle after about a year. During the summer, adult male beetles will mate and the females will lay their eggs in the soil. The eggs hatch after about two weeks. The new family of grubs then begin to feed on the grassroots. In the fall, as cold weather nears, the grubs will burrow a few inches into your soil and be dormant for the winter. When the ground warms up in the early spring, these insects make their way back to the surface and the feeding begins again. Then, in the early summer, they will stop eating, pupate, transform into adults, and the process starts over.
Symptoms: You’ll first start to notice that the blades of your grass are wilting, then brown patches of turf will appear. This is an indication that the grass has died. Soggy, damaged grass will lift up easily from the soil revealing the grubs underneath. If you notice birds, moles, or skunks in your lawn, they are probably looking for a nice meal consisting of grubs.
Your lawn can also be attacked by a pest known as the chinch bug, The most common is the “hairy chinch bug,” and it can inhabit areas throughout the United States. Chinch bugs are sap-suckers that enjoy feeding on grass. While these lawn bugs are feeding, they secrete an anticoagulant, causing your grass to stop drinking the water it needs to survive. The result is withering grass that eventually dies.
Life cycle: A chinch bug will lay her eggs in the grass and it will produce at least two more generations beginning in the spring and lasting until the early fall when temperatures cool. The eggs usually hatch in 25 to 30 days. The young bugs (or nymphs) then begin to feed on your lawn. These nymphs mature and the life cycle begins again. In cooler weather, the chinch will find a warmer home in the base of your grass. They remain there and inactive until spring temperatures return.
Symptoms: Chinch bugs leave massive damage to grass from June to September while they are feeding. You’ll notice patches of grass that exhibit a slight purple color. They will then wilt, turn yellow, then brown, then die.
The sod webworm is full of larvae from the sod moth and they will viciously attack your grass. Young sod webworms mature at about an inch in length, and they become green or brown with dark spots. This skinny, gray moth gives the appearance of having two snouts.
Life cycle: The sod webworm has two, sometimes three generations every year during the spring and summer. Adults lay eggs on the blades of your grass at night. Eggs hatch after about seven days, and the young larvae begin feeding at night and hiding during the day. The lawn bugs will eat the grass, eventually killing the root system. After about five weeks, they turn to adults and the process begins again.
Symptoms: Webworms will eat the blades of grass along with the roots, turning it brown and leaving it for dead. The damage is quick and usually very widespread. You’ll notice the turf has tunnels and holes from birds that are looking for worms.
The name truly says it all. The armyworm does battle with your grass. This lawn bug is about 1 to 2 inches long and they vary in color. They can appear gray, yellow or pink, depending on the species. An armyworm will eventually turn into a brown moth and is easy to identify, especially at night. As they move toward the light, they show their hairy stomachs.
Life cycle: The armyworm produces about three generations in the spring and during the summer months. The adults will lay small clusters of white eggs that hatch after about a week. The new worms feed for up to three weeks before becoming moths again.
Symptoms: Armyworms will eat your grass and stems, then leave their skeletons on the other plants in its vicinity. They hide from the sun, then feed frantically on your grass at night. As they feed on the grass, they create round bare spots in your lawn. If the armyworm invasion is heavy, the lawn actually appears to be eerily moving.
There are several types of cutworms. Most are about two inches in length and appear brown or gray and have a distinct striping. The adults may even have dark or black markings.
Life cycle: Cutworm moths will lay their eggs in the spring on the very tip of the grass blades. Once they hatch, the lawn bugs feed at night and stay out of sight during the day. After feeding for about four weeks, they return to being moths. This cycle repeats up to six times each year.
Symptoms: Cutworms will find their shelter underground by burrowing in the daylight hours and emerge to feed at night by taking bites out of the blades or by biting them off completely. Short grasses are invaded the hardest, and the damage eventually leads to death.
Effective Lawn Bug Control
Lawn damage from pests can go unchecked and unnoticed until it’s too late and major damage has all but ruined your lawn. You can efficiently and quickly control the situation and prevent these bugs with a reputable name brand lawn care product. Even better, hire lawn care experts of Summit Turf Services to help control the lawn bugs and keep your yard safe and beautiful.
- Keep your lawn and garden areas clean. Keep the lawn mowed and the landscaping trimmed. This limits the places bugs have to hide and breed. Watch carefully for standing water in flower pots, trash cans, and other containers. These are the perfect breeding ground for lawn bugs, especially mosquitoes. Try using sand to dry the damp areas under the deck or around outside faucets.
- Essential oils are great for their bug-repelling power and aroma. Mix peppermint, lemongrass, and citronella oils together for a great homemade outdoor bug spray.
- Spice it up. Ants hate cinnamon and chili powder. Sprinkle these spices on your grass for a bug barrier, and don’t forget around the deck and picnic areas. If you have ant mounds in your yard already, boiling water and mint tea will kill the ant colony.
- Protect your pets. Don’t forget Fido. Help to discourage fleas and mosquitoes from attaching themselves to your pets and hitching a ride indoors. Use natural pet products like garlic and essential oils.
A yard and garden free of lawn bugs is a great place for your family and friends to come and enjoy the outdoors. So keep an eagle eye out for common lawn pests and act promptly when they appear. With the help of a good quality insecticide, you can control these common lawn pests and stop them dead in their tracks.
We hope you found this information informative! At Summit Turf Service’s we are all about the beauty and health of your lawn! It’s what we love and what we do best! If you need help getting rid of those pesky lawn bugs or would like us to provide you a quote for lawn care or landscaping, we would love to hear from you. We are happy to handle the job for you, just give us a call.