Recognize and Treat Insect Lawn Foes

There are few things more frustrating than working hard to achieve a vibrant, green lawn only to have it ravaged by insects. Some bugs eat lawn blades top to bottom. Others like to suck out the moisture from the lawn. Still others munch on the roots of your grass. Whatever their choice in menu, insects that feed on your lawn can be a nuisance.

Ridding your landscape of unwanted bugs is possible. However, first you have to identify what insects are feasting around your home. Only then can you take the steps to tackle these bug problems.

Sod web worms: The insects are sometimes called sod web moths because they flutter up when disturbed. The adults fly and lay eggs in the grass. The caterpillars that emerge feast on the lawn -- eating just about anything in their paths. Proper irrigation and fertilization helps keep these bugs at bay because a stressed, poorly cared-for lawn is most susceptible.

Chinch bugs: These small, ladybug-sized munchers suck the juices out of lawn blades. The larval form of the insect does the most damage between April and May, after they hatch. Planting resistant grasses is one of the best ways to combat these insects.

Billbugs: These insects love Kentucky Bluegrass varieties of lawn. The larvae resemble small grains of rice and feed on the base of the grass blades, right above the roots. Billbugs overwinter as adults in piles of fallen leaves. To prevent infestation, clear leaves from the property promptly.

Grubs: Grubs are the larval form of many different beetles, such as Japanese beetles. They feed on the roots and stems of the lawn. The trouble with grubs is they often attract moles to the lawn because moles feed on grubs. Moles will burrow through the soil and cause their own destruction. Grubs allowed to mature will form into bugs that do their own destruction to plant life as adults. Applying a bacteria called Milky Spore can kill grubs.

Cutworms: These small, brown caterpillars are the larvae of night-flying brown or grayish moths. Cutworms occasionally infest lawns. They feed on the leaves or cut off the grass near the soil and may do severe damage to seedlings of Bermuda grass, Bentgrass and Ryegrass. These bugs generally will not decimate a lawn unless it is a very large infestation.

Mole crickets: These crickets hide out in burrows during the day and feed at night on organic material, including grass. Like fire ants, it is generally impossible to irradicate these bugs. They simply can be managed.

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