Insects and bugs are a natural part of any lawn or garden ecosystem. Most of the time, the various insects populating your grass aren’t a reason to worry or to do anything about them. While there are insects that feed on turf grass, they usually don’t do so in great enough numbers to cause problems. There are also many insects and bugs that greatly benefit your lawn, helping with the decomposition of organic matter so that the grass can get the nutrients it needs. However, there are certain bugs and insects that can become a problem for your lawn if their numbers are too high.
Several different species of beetles lay their eggs in turf grass during the early part of each summer. The eggs hatch in the late summer and begin to develop into small larvae, known as grub worms. Grub worms cause damage to lawns by eating the root systems of turf grass in the early fall months. The best way to control grub worms is to use insecticides during this time, before the winter starts. Once winter sets in, grub worms entrench deeper within the soil and can be harder to kill. Then, with the arrival of spring, the grubs come back to the surface to begin eating the roots of the turf grass once again. At this point they begin the change to adulthood, and before you know it, you have grub worms everywhere.
While it is normal to find grubs in most soils, they can become a nuisance. They are a necessary part of the ecology system in your yard, but if there are too many of them, they can leave large areas of dead turf grass in your lawn. If more than 5 to 10 grubs can be found within one square foot of turf, treatment may be necessary.
Army worms are moth caterpillars that migrate to Atlanta, Georgia each summer from Texas. When full grown, the army worm larvae are a greenish-brown color and can get up to 1.5 inches long. Army worms are often devastating to turf grass lawns, since they eat the turf grass blades right down to the soil. Army worms are especially dangerous to fescue lawns, because fescue turf grass doesn’t recover as easily from that kind of damage as well as other grasses.
The damage caused by chinch bugs, irregular patches of discolored or dead grass, is sometimes confused with certain lawn diseases, like brown patch disease, or drought. Chinch bugs are small bugs with sucking mouths that cause turf damage in sunny and open areas. Finding Chinch bugs is the best way to be actually sure that the damage is due to them and not something else.
Defending against Chinch bugs necessitates good watering habits, mowing your lawn regularly, and aerating your lawn every year. If you have particularly high numbers of Chinch bugs, insecticide treatments for your turf grass lawn may be necessary as well.
What You Can Do About These Pests
Unfortunately, lawn care treatment to prevent infestations of army worms or to prevent damage caused by them is not possible. Some years army worms aren’t a problem at all, and it is impossible to predict if they will be a problem in any given area. The best solution is to be aware and try for early detection. Early detection is the best way to prevent serious damage, though because army worms are so fast-moving, this can be difficult.
Luckily, with the proper application of insecticide, army worm infestations can be fairly easy to control. Bermuda grass turf recovers more easily from army worm damage, and if taken care of properly, it should be fine. However, fescue turf doesn’t recover as easily and usually needs to be reseeded if the damage done by army worms is too great.