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Category : managing lawn pests

Common lawn weeds

Aboveground Pests

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Chinch bugs Chinch bugs are the premier pest on St. Augustinegrass lawns, and will attack other grasses except those in the coldest climates.  Black, winged, and 1/5-inch long, they live and lay eggs in the thatch layer at the root line. Most damaging are the tiny red nymphs, which thrive on sap sucked from grass stems. The adult chinch bug is the scourge of southern grasses. The chinch bug nymph sucks on…

Underground pests - Japanese Beetle

Underground Pests

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White grubs These root-eating larvae of the scarab beetle family include Japanese beetles, June bugs, rose chafers, and the black turfgrass ataenius.  Grub size and characteristics vary, but grubs are generally plump, whitish gray and C-shaped with brown heads, and three pairs of legs.  In the summer, you can identify adult Japanese beetles, metallic green with copper wings, and June bugs, reddish brown nocturnal fliers. Look for: Wilted, bluish-gray grass…

Identifying Clues

Visible Clues to Insects

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Knowing your local pests and their life cycles is the key to determining whether lawn damage is due to insects.  The rest is a matter of keeping your eyes open.  Most insects are large enough to be visible, so do not wait for your grass to start dying to find out there is a problem. The presence of sod webworms may become apparent one evening, when you see their adult…

Watch What You Step On

Watch What You Step On

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It pays to know what insects look like throughout their life cycle, because they change form as they grow in a process called metamorphosis.  Born with rigid or semi-rigid outer skins, insects would have a difficult time growing if they were not able to shed this covering as they outgrew it.  Some insects—such as beetles, lacewings, and moths—start life as larvae and evolve to an intermediate stage called pupae.  After…

Testing for insects

Testing for Insects

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In addition to the time-honored method of parting the grass and looking around, the following techniques will expose damaging insects in your lawn. Soap Drench: Use to flush out sod webworms, armyworms, mole crickets, and caterpillars.  Mix 5- to 6-tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a 2-gallon sprinkling can full of water, and drench 4-square feet of lawn with the solution.  Observe the area for three minutes, counting the number of…

Mechanical Bug Removal

Mechanical Bug Removal

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When pests are visible and large enough, removing them via the “pick and squash” method is an option for the non-squeamish.  Try the following on insects you cannot see. For chinch bugs, prepare a soap drench with 2-tablespoons of dishwashing liquid and 2-gallons of water in a watering can.  Thoroughly water an off-color patch of lawn, and then cover it with a flannel sheet.  Wait 15 minutes; then scrape clinging…

Insecticidal Soap

Insecticidal Soaps

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Made from the potassium salts of fatty acids, insecticidal soaps cause desiccation and death on direct contact with susceptible insects.  The acids disrupt the structure and permeability of their cell membranes.  Most effective on soft-bodied insects, including beneficial insects, these soaps have a minimum impact on ladybug larvae and parasitic wasps.  Aside from causing mild eye and skin irritation, they have low mammalian toxicity and are biodegradable.  Once dry, however,…

Earthworms are More than Fish Bait

Earthworms – More Than Bait

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Abundant in moist, heavy soils, earthworms are a natural component of healthy lawns.  Their diet of dirt, organic matter, and excrete plant litter in the form of a rich digestive by-product called castings.  These small, hardened piles are scattered across the ground.  While initially felt underfoot, castings will eventually break down, providing your lawn with a dose of natural fertilizer.  You can also buy worm castings for this purpose. In…