Summer Insects that Can Harm Your Lawn

Weed Man wants to remind you that NOW is the time to be on the lookout for these two turf damaging summer insects.

Chinch Bugs

It’s hard to believe that such a small insect like the chinch bug can cause so much damage to a lawn in such a short period of time. However, year after year people ask us to come and inspect their lawns because they’ve turned brown and won’t green back up on their own. More often than not, their lawns are suffering from major chinch bug damage.

Chinch

The secret to chinch bugs’ success is the fact that they are so small and often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Combined with the fact that chinch-damaged turf looks just like drought, which is typical at this time of year, makes these bugs one of the most serious pests to Bluegrass lawns in the north and St. Augustine lawns in the south.

Right now, Weed Man technicians are on the lookout for chinch bug activity.  We try to catch them early before any major damage occurs. For those of you who are do-it-yourselfers, keep in mind that if you happen to miss the signs of chinch bug damage, you will eventually be left with large areas that will be thinned out and require repair, which can take a lot of money, time and effort.

Diagnosing Chinch Bug Damage

Here are some hints on how to detect the presence of chinch bugs early enough to prevent or eliminate any damage:

  • Chinch bugs typically like any sunny exposed areas, so this is a great place to start looking for any activity, especially if you have brown spots appearing on your lawn.
  • Check the boundaries of where the brown areas on your lawn meet the green areas. The damage typically starts off in a small area then grows outward. As the damage increases, it coalesces with other areas, creating larger brown patches on the lawn.
  • Look at the base of the plant in the thatch area or where the grass meets the soil, as chinch bugs feed on the crowns of grass plants. A bit of patience may be required to get a glimpse of them. The nymphs are very small and red, while the adults gradually turn black and feature a small white cross mark on their backs.
  • An old trick is to grab a soup can and cut both the bottom and the top off. Then pour water into it and see if any of the chinch bugs float to the top. You can definitely try this, but if you follow the steps above you won’t need the soup can trick at all.

Tropical Sod Webworm

Another turf insect pest that is causing extensive damage this summer is the tropical sod webworm. This pest, found primarily along the gulf states, comes in two different forms – moths (adults) and worms (larvae).

sod webworm moth

sod webworm larvae

Tropical sod webworm larvae feed primarily at night and prefer areas in lawns that are hot and dry during daylight hours. Any areas that are difficult to water are predominantly subject to larval damage, while shaded areas are seldom attacked by the larvae. Damage to the turf occurs as the larvae chew off grass blades and retreat into their protective silken tunnels to consume the grass blade. Injury first appears as small brown patches of closely clipped grass.

Lawns are particularly susceptible to larval damage when the temperatures are hot and lawns are not growing vigorously. Again, our Weed Man technicians are on the lookout for tropical sod webworms, and we try and catch them early before any major damage can occur. Larger lawn areas may be damaged rapidly if control products are not applied, so be on the lookout for this summer lawn invader.

If you have any questions about chinch bugs or tropical sod webworms, Weed Man would be happy to help. Find your local office using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

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A Tough Season for Turf!

The fall season provides a great opportunity to give your lawn some TLC after the stresses of summer.

crabgrass

This past year was one of the most difficult I can remember for keeping lawns looking good throughout the growing season. Weather certainly played a huge role in this, as – depending on where you live – you either had to deal with an overabundance of rainfall or a major lack of precipitation. Due to a number of reasons I will address below, many lawns are looking a little beat up as we enter into fall. The good news is you still have some time to get that lawn back into shape before the cold weather sets in.

One the most difficult issues we dealt with this year was crabgrass. Unfortunately, even lawns that were treated with pre-emergents were not safe from crabgrass invasion. Weather conditions (i.e. the heavy rain or dry weather mentioned previously) had a major impact on the efficacy of pre-emergent applications this spring, as it helped break down the protective barrier at a faster rate, allowing crabgrass to germinate. As a result, crabgrass was seen almost everywhere and created quite a bit of work and cost to most lawn care operators who were forced to do post-emergent treatments to try and get rid of the crabgrass.

We also saw a large number of insect infestations across the country this past growing season. From chinch bugs and bluegrass weevil in the north, to armyworms in the Tennessee Valley and tropical sod webworms in the far south, almost every region across the U.S. was faced with some form of unwanted pest.

Last but not least, we received many calls in our Weed Man offices related to turf disease that led to thinning turf, unsightly patterns in the lawn and discoloration.

Help Your Lawn Recover

If you’d like to get your lawn back into shape and help it recover, fall is the perfect time to give your lawn a good feeding and help tackle any ugly bare patches. During the cooler weather of autumn, turf grasses tend to use the nutrients from fertilizer to grow roots and fill in bare spots, which is part of the reason fall provides such an optimal window for fertilizing. In the spring, on the other hand, fertilizer nutrients are mainly used for top growth in the leaves and shoots.

Fall fertilizer contains two key ingredients: nitrogen and potassium. Both will help stimulate and repair your grass. Nitrogen aids in plant growth and helps keep grass looking green and healthy. Look for fertilizer that has a high amount of available nitrogen in a slow release form (like Weed Man’s exclusive granular fertilizer!), so that it feeds the lawn slowly, as the plant needs it.

Potassium (potash) is equally important in the fall, as it plays a vital role in healthy turfgrass development and is second only to nitrogen in the amount required for lawn growth. Potassium enacts a protective mechanism in grass plants, hardening off cell walls to fight back against damaging factors. Turfgrasses that are deficient in potassium are more prone to injury during the winter months.If possible, try to mulch your grass back into the lawn when cutting, as this will help put nutrients like potassium back into the soil as the clippings break down naturally.

Keep in mind that fall is also a great time to seed the lawn, as ground temperatures are still warm and benefit from plenty of dew at night (this will help keep the seed moist). You should have an easier time getting the seed to germinate at this time of year, which will reinvigorate any bare spots that need repair. For larger areas, aeration combined with an overseeding will really help that neglected lawn come in green and hardy next spring.

If you have any questions about your lawn, Weed Man would be happy to help. Find your local office using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris