Weather and disease are not the only factors that threaten the health of your lawn. Insects who feed on your grass and plantings can also affect the health and appearance of your lawn. Brown, wilted, or yellowish patches in your lawn are often the result of insects feeding on roots, grass blades, and plantings. Here are five common destructive pests to look out for:
Young chinch bugs are red with a white band whereas adults chinch bugs are gray and black with white wings that fold flat over their midsection. The young and hungry chinch bugs feed on grass blades by piercing them and sucking the sap out.
Chinch bugs feed on the grass blades causing the grass to turn a yellowish color then a brown color and then it dies. Once the grass dies, the chinch bug moves on to the next blade. Because they feed on all types of grass, chinch bug damage tends to appear as patches of brown grass with healthy blades mixed in.
Chinch bugs are born in May, so their destructive phase begins in early summer as they continue feeding, but you may not notice the damage until mid or late summer. Don’t confuse this infestation with heat stress. Try turning over the thatch and dirt where you see brown grass and check for chinch bugs.
White grubs are the larvae of beetles which include Japanese beetles, May/June beetles, and oriental beetles in the Pittsburgh area.
These grubs usually become an issue in the late summer and early fall. They feed on grass roots and then lay dormant throughout the winter. They emerge in the summer as beetles, feeding and laying eggs, starting the next generation of grubs.
Signs you have grubs:
- Wilted or brown patches of grass
- Soft or spongy lawn
- The lawn can be rolled back like carpet to expose grubs
- Presence of skunks, raccoons, or birds digging up the lawn searching for grubs to eat
These beetles are 3/8 inches long with metallic-green bodies and shiny rust-colored wings. The Japanese beetle larvae feed on grass, plantings, and roots. Japanese Beetle grubs are full-fledged adults by July. They will crawl up on to plants, grass, and ornamental trees to lay eggs and eat. By September, the eggs hatch and the grubs begin their destructive phase.
The grass will die in patches as the beetles eat the roots, impairing the grass’s ability to take up water and nutrients every fall. Try pulling up on your turf, if it lifts easily, that’s a sign the roots have been damaged. You may also see white, c-shaped grubs in the ground. Because adult beetles can fly, you may not have grubs in your yard when you see the beetles eating your lawn.
Although caterpillars aren’t damaging in small numbers, when a caterpillar population grows excessively, they can become a significant issue for your lawn and other plantings. These caterpillars mainly feed on your grass. When they are young, they feed on the upper surface of the grass blades, leaving off-color spots. Adults will eat entire sections of leaves, causing large unsightly, brown spots.
You can use the drench test to see if they are the culprit for the brown spots on your lawn. Combine dishwashing liquid and water and pour it over one square yard of your lawn. Count the number of caterpillars that surface. If you have more than fifteen per square yard, you likely have an infestation.
All-Season Lawn Program for Pest Control
Superior Lawn Care can help you get rid of beetles, grubs, and other pests with our insect/grub control program which can be applied to protect your lawn and eliminate damaging pests. Our full tree and shrub care program can help to keep pests from causing damage to your ornamental plants. With our all-season lawn care program, which includes an insect control application, we can protect our lawn from these common pests and more!
We provide our all-season lawn care program throughout Southwestern PA including, Moon Township, Murrysville, Wexford, Peters Township, Indiana, North Huntington, and Upper St. Clair. Contact us today to control damaging insects and restore your lawn back to healthy green!