Lawn Pest Control Tips

R. L. Rhodes
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Save your lawn from unnecessary damage. Identify and treat harmful pests now to prevent costly, time consuming effort later in the season. The Home Depot carries a wide variety of pest control products, including organic pest solutions, to help. Here’s a quick guide to 15 of the most common lawn invaders and how to defend against them:

Cutworms

Cutworm: Neil Philips/Wikipedia

What you see: Grass blades are unevenly chewed along the edges in summer.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Upper South, North California Coastal Inland Valley, Coastal Tropical South and Upper and Middle South Region. Cutworms may do severe damage to Bermuda grass, bent grass and ryegrass.
Treat it:
Try a granular product or liquid spray insecticide. Repeat if damage continues.

Greenbug aphids

Aphids: istolethetv/Flickr

What you see: Bronze discoloration that looks like drought damage, usually in shade.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal Tropical South, Upper South, Lower South, South Western Deserts, Northern & Central Midwest and Upper South. Greenbug aphids may do severe damage to Kentucky bluegrass.
Treat it:
Many insecticides can be applied with a lawn sprayer over the entire lawn.

Chinch bugs

What you see: Grass in sunny areas wilts, turns yellowish brown, dries out and dies.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal Tropical South, Upper South, Middle South and Lower South, South Western Deserts, North Central West, West Mountains & High Plains. Chinch bugs may do severe damage to St. Augustine grass.
Treat it:
Use granular insecticides or liquid insecticides.

Mole crickets

Mole-cricket: Dmitry Baranovskiy/Flickr

Mole-cricket: Dmitry Baranovskiy/Flickr

What you see: Small mounds of soil scattered on surface; large areas of dead-looking brown grass that feels spongy underfoot.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal Tropical South, Upper South, Middle South, Lower South, Western Mountains & High Plains and South Western Deserts. May do severe damage to turfgrass and Bermuda grass.
Treat it:
Thoroughly apply an insecticide in June or July, after the eggs hatch and before young nymphs cause much damage. Brands like Scotts carry products designed to kill and prevent grubs all season long.

Bermuda grass mites

What you see: In spring, areas of Bermuda grass remain yellow or brown and fail to grow.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal Tropical South, Western Mountains & High Plains and South West Deserts. They may do severe damage to Bermuda grass.
Treat it:
Control with a pesticide labeled for Bermuda mites when grass turns green in spring.

Scale insect

Scale: pau.artigas/Flickr

Scale: pau.artigas/Flickr

What you see: Irregularly shaped patches that turn yellow, then brown and die in fall.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal Tropical South, Western Mountains & High Plains, and Northern & Central Midwest. Scale may do severe damage to St. Augustine grass.
Treat it:
Try a quality spray by Bayer, which has a double protection formula that controls both above- and below-ground insects with one application, offering long-lasting systemic protection.

Fire ants

Fire ants: Stephen Ausmus/USDA

Fire ants: Stephen Ausmus/USDA

What you see: Mounds or small hills throughout the lawn with smoother grass and damaged roots.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Northern & Central Midwest, Western Mountains & High Plains, North California Coastal Inland Valley, Coastal Tropical South, Upper South, Lower South, South Western Deserts, Mid-Atlantic, Northern & Central Mid-West. Fire ants may do severe damage to St. Augustine grass and ryegrass.
Treat it:
Bayer and Ortho both offer products specifically designed to control and eliminate fire ants. Follow directions on the label to keep your lawn pest-free.

Fiery skipper

Fiery skipper: Bill Bouton/Flickr

Fiery skipper: Bill Bouton/Flickr

What you see: 1- to 2-inch brown spots from May through September.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in South West Deserts, Coastal Tropical South, Upper South, Lower South, Middle South, Lower South, North California Coastal Inland Valley, Western Mountains & High Plains, Northern & Central Midwest and Southern New England. Fiery skipper may do severe damage to Bermuda grass.
Treat it:
Dethatch, overseed and apply beneficial nematodes or a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) control product.

Armyworm

Armyworm: Wikipedia

Armyworm: Wikipedia

What you see: Grass looks tattered, usually during hot, dry weather.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Coastal & Tropical South, Lower, Middle and Upper South, Southwestern Deserts, the southern part of Northern & Central Midwest, Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys and Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys. Armyworms are a particular problem for Bermuda grass, but fescue, ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass are also attacked.
Treat it:
These surface feeders are easily controlled with insecticides by Ortho which provide fast, effective and long-lasting control of general nuisance pests.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs: Cory Campora/Flickr

Mealybugs: Cory Campora/Flickr

What you see: Resembles drought damage with yellow and brown discoloration and thinning grass.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Lower, Middle and Upper South, Southwestern Deserts, the southern part of Western Mountains & High Plains, Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys and Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys. Mealybugs typically thrive in St. Augustine grass, tall fescue and centipedegrass.
Treat it:
Use an insecticide with a hand-held trigger sprayer or backpack sprayer. A fine mist is recommended to provide thorough coverage. Collect and destroy clippings to prevent spreading.

Japanese beetle

What you see: Brown or dead grass.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys and Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys, Pacific Northwest, Western Mountains & High Plains, Northern & Central Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and New England. Japanese beetles are typically found in Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue and bent grass.
Treat it:
Apply grub control in May, June or July before eggs hatch and grubs start to feed.

Billbugs

Weevil: Mick Talbot/Flickr

Weevil: Mick Talbot/Flickr

What you see: Dead brown grass in midsummer, often in circular patches that break away at the crown when you pull on it. Hollowed-out stems have a sawdust-like material at severed ends.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in New England, Mid-Atlantic, Northern & Central Midwest, Western Mountains & High Plains and Pacific Northwest. Billbugs are particularly a problem for Kentucky bluegrass.
Treat it:
The key is to kill adults before they lay eggs. Apply a grub control product labeled for billbugs.

Sod webworms

Sod webworm: Zach Welty/Flickr

Sod webworm: Zach Welty/Flickr

What you see: Small brown patches of what looks, at first, like scalped grass. Later, spots turn yellow then die.
Where you’ll find it:
Predominantly found in Northern & Central Midwest. However they have appeared throughout all regions. Sod webworms are typically found in Kentucky bluegrass.
Treat it:
As soon as you see damage, spray with a contact insecticide labeled for sod webworms like those from Ortho with a concentrated formula to treat large areas.

European chafers

European chafer: Allan Doyle/Flickr

European chafer: Allan Doyle/Flickr

What you see: Brown or dead grass.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in New England, Mid-Atlantic and the eastern portion of Northern & Central Midwest. They are typically found in both rye and fescue grasses.
Treat it:
Apply a high-quality grub control formula in May, June or July before eggs hatch and grubs start to feed.

Asiatic garden beetle

What you see: Gradual thinning, yellowing and wilting, and scattered irregular dead patches.
Where you’ll find it:
Found in New England, Mid-Atlantic and the eastern portions of Northern & Central Midwest, Lower, Middle and Upper South. Asiatic garden beetle is typically found in perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, Bermuda and St. Augustine grass.
Treat it:
Apply grub control.

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