While “grasshopper” might be the first insect that comes to mind when thinking of pests that threaten lawns, there are a surprising number of insects that can put them in peril. Read on to learn more about your lawn’s biggest enemies.
The Problem Often Isn’t Adult Insects
Very few adult insects actually eat the grass found on most lawns. However, their offspring are another story. Insects go through several different distinct life stages. While in the grub like larva stage, many insect species feed on the roots and young leaves of grass plants. Adult insects often find grass blades convenient places to lay eggs as well.
This adult egg laying usually occurs in the fall, allowing the eggs to overwinter. Larvae lawn feeding generally begins in the late spring. Because these hungry “babies” do much damage to plant root systems, damaged lawns can’t use them to draw in water.
If homeowners are noticing suspicious patches of dead or yellowish grass that doesn’t seem to be helped by any amount of watering, they should suspect one of the following culprits.
This is a type of insect known as a weevil, with a long, thin snout, and a gray or brown body. Billbug larva can do thousands of dollars of damage to corn crops. But they’re perfectly happy to burrow into grass stems and destroy entire lawns as well.
Adult billbugs can often be seen on the move in the fall, looking for leaves or grass thatch to overwinter and lay eggs in. The white larva is visible in the spring.
An insect that does feed on lawns as an adult, the chinch bug has a specially adapted mouth that can pierce grass stems and suck moisture from them. While chinch bug species prefer grains, they’ll happily make do with lawns. They especially prefer the grass types known as turf, such as Kentucky bluegrass.
These tiny bugs are less than an inch long. Adults are white with brown or black wings, while juveniles have orange stripes. Chinch bug attacks most commonly occur in June and July, and these pests like dry, sunny lawns.
Symptoms of their presence includes yellow and brown grass. Chinch bugs inject plants with toxins while feeding, so lawns often don’t recover after watering. Adults begin looking for leaf litter and roadsides to overwinter in the fall.
This is the common name of the larva of various beetle species, primarily May, June, and Japanese beetles. While the adults do feed on and damage ornamental plants, the greater damage is done by the larva, which emerge in late spring and feed on and destroy grass root systems.
Homeowners can protect lawns with regular watering and removing excessive leaf litter and thatch from them.
But to insure the safety of lawns from the many insect species that prey on them, professional assistance is invaluable. These experts can aerate and inspect soil and remove nesting litter. They can also safely apply insecticides, pesticides, and natural treatments when appropriate.
With such help, homeowners can be assured that both their lawns and the environment will be around to enjoy for years to come.