Grass Eaters That Don’t Say “MOO”
At Erbert Lawns we use golf course quality products to keep your lawn looking lush and green! Even with our efforts, pesky lawn eating pests can still find their way to your lawn and take the beauty away. All the pests I am going to talk about today can survive by eating grass. Although proper weed control and fertilization along with yearly aerations aren’t the answer to all lawns problems, they are a great start as many pests are deterred by nutrients of a healthy lawn.
Although these pests are fairly uncommon in the state of Colorado, they have been spotted in few lawns near the Denver area as well as Mesa, Delta, Montorse, and Ouray counties. Chinch bugs, along with many other lawn pests, are often misdiagnosed as drought stress or lawn disease.
A fully grown chinch bug is roughly 1/6“, and unless you are looking you probably won’t see them! They drain the health of your lawn by sucking out the insides of each blade of grass and live in the thatch layer of your lawn where they are protected from the hot summer temperatures as they are most active July through August.
An easy way for any person to check their lawn for chinch bugs is to punch out the bottom of a metal cylinder (like a coffee can) and push it about 3 inches deep into the soil in a suspicious area. Fill the can ¾ of the way with and keep adding water as needed for about 10 minutes. If chinch bugs are residing in the spot, they will float to the top. Lay down law surface insecticide, which we offer here at Erbert Lawns, along with watering should take care of the infestation within 24 hours. A heavy infestation may need additional treatment.
In recent years Cranberry Girdler infestations have been seen in Jefferson county and other areas. What is a Cranberry Girdler? They are a type of moth with a pointed snout, but their babies can do a lot of damage! They feed on cranberries (go figure), some species of evergreen trees, and your beautiful lawn. The larvae creates tunnels under the grass and feeds on the roots.
Due to their nature of living under grass, they are a bit harder to get rid of and rarely come up to the surface for feeding. Heavy watering, along with a stronger insecticide should do the trick!
Grubs are the larvae of various types of beetles. Their lifecycle begins in the spring when they hatch from eggs and begin feeding on the roots of your grass. In late spring they will begin to turn into a pupae, which is essentially a cocoon for them to live in while they grow into adult beetles. The adults will feed on grass and any other foliage in the lawn, then lay more eggs and the cycle repeats.
You will know you have a grub infestation because you will notice irregular brown patches in your lawn. If the lawn is being properly watered in the summer, grubs are easier to identify. Brown patches can be caused from poor lawn health and drought stress, so make sure you are doing your part to keep your lawn healthy before you stress over insect pests.
At Erbert Lawns we offer a grub treatment as this is a common problem in Colorado lawns, and also will have one of our lawn scientists diagnose your lawn prior to treatment so we can make sure it is indeed needed!
Mites are a pest that find their way into your lawn during the colder months of the years. They will appear when the temperature outside is around 40 degrees and there is little to no moisture in the air and they will usually appear on the western and southern areas of the lawn. If there is ever a dry winter, you should definitely be concerned about mites! The worst part about mites is that you may not know until late spring when your lawn comes out of dormancy if there has been an infestation. Once the temperatures increase in mid spring, the mites will die on their own leaving their damage behind.
Mite damage is often confused with fertilizer burn and the damage looks the same. Unfortunately there is no post-damage treatment as these dead areas generally do not come back. You may need to re seed or re sod in the fall if you have mite damage in your lawn.
We offer a great preventative maintenance program at Erbert Lawns to keep your lawn mite free from November through February. The lawn surface insecticide we use for this program is the same for controlling chinch bugs.
As the name states, these pests are web weaving larvae of a type of moth. They are similar to the Cranberry Girdler in the way they look, but an infestation of them is easier to rid. Like the chinch bugs, they live in the thatch and feed on the grass.
Beginning in early June, an adult moth can lay several hundred eggs in the lawn in the course of a week! That’s a lot of pests that you will need to deal with. If left untreated, three generation cycles can happen in just one year. That will leave you with a lot of re seeding or sodding to do!
Watering along with an insecticide should help keep the infestation under control.
Armyworms get their name because throughout their larvae stage they cluster together for protection. Adult moths emerge in the spring and lay 3 generations of eggs each year, the last one staying dormant over the winter. The only generation that really affects turf is the second one. The female moths lay their eggs in clusters on grass blades and can lay several thousand at a time. Within a week, the eggs will hatch and there will be an army of little caterpillars feasting on your lawn.
During the day the larvae will hide from the sun in the thatch layer of the lawn. In the night they will come out to eat in mass. Armyworms are deterred by well fertilized and watered lawns, but if needed an insecticide should help with the problem.
Cutworms are more interested in eating your vegetable garden than they are your grass, but since we are on the topic of pests, I think they are worth discussing.
The cutworm is the larvae of a nocturnal moth. They get their name because they will seek out saplings and cut them in half to feed. They are a pain to deal with because sometimes they will feed on a plant until it’s gone, and other times they will treat your garden like an all you can eat buffet and sample many different saplings. Any noticeable cutworm activity should be dealt with immediately or your garden will be completely digested before you know it! You can rid of them by using an insecticide, or digging up the areas that are being damaged and starting your garden from scratch.