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Lawn Care Tips

Not All Bugs are Bad - Which Creatures Help or Hurt Your Lawn?

Posted by Ann Martin

Mar 11, 2015 8:00:00 AM

482054617_cd7c53286d_oMany of us would love to live where there are no insects, worms, or spiders in our lawns at all. Of course, that would make it very difficult for any lawn to survive.

Most of the creepy-crawlies that slither and fly around your lawn and garden are beneficial in many ways. That's one of the main reasons why indiscriminate pesticide usage can be such a bad idea: the chemicals kill the good bugs along with the bad ones, and your lawn ends up in worse shape because of it. 

The best way to keep your lawn and garden's bug population balanced and beneficial is to learn which ones are the good guys and which ones are the bad guys. Here are just a few bugs you might find in your North Florida lawn. 

The Good Guys

The following army of beneficial bugs can potentially do wonders for your lawn and garden. They offer some of the best pest control services available for free, and they improve your landscape's health and longevity just by being there.

  • Ladybugs - These beautiful little beetles eat aphids, mealybugs, scales, and plenty of other harmful plant-killers. They love cornflowers and golden Marguerite, so plant some in and around the yard to bring them in.

  • Hover Flies - One hover fly maggot will eat up to 400 aphids before reaching adulthood. And they keep on eating aphids, mealybugs, and other harmful insects after they're grown. They look a lot like large bees and they will be attracted to large, colorful and nectar-rich flowers just like bees are.

  • Assassin Bugs - The Assassin Bug hunts caterpillars along with spider mites and thrips. They like to hunt ambush-style from under cover, so be sure your landscaping includes some permanent bunch grasses or shrubs to provide the cover they need.

  • Ground Beetles - These large, shiny, black beetles hang out amid the decomposing ground clutter that coats the soil and picking off snails, slug eggs, and maggots. By using attractive stones and logs as part of your landscaping decoration, you provide a perfect home for these helpful bugs.

  • Bees - As much as 80% of the pollination that occurs in your lawn and garden is thanks to bees, specifically the American Honeybee. While it may not be optimal to have a huge hive near where the kids play, you should definitely want to see honeybees buzzing around your grass during the warm months. To make it happen, make sure your lawn includes plenty of bright and nectar-rich flowers to attract their attention.

  • Earthworms - While earthworms don't eat any bad bugs, they're vital to the health of the soil itself. Their constant burrowing and digestive processes keeps the soil aerated and nutrient-rich, which provides for a strong, healthy lawn.

Insects aren't the only thing that can harm your lawn. Weeds also do their share of damage. Find out how to win the war on weeds in our download.

The Bad Guys

Based on many first-hand experiences, it's a safe bet you can name at least some of the most common lawn pests you'll want to control in your lawn:

  • Aphids - These tiny, lime green bugs reproduce incredibly fast, and can quickly decimate broad-leaf plants or grasses if allowed to swarm out of control. Fortunately, targeted pesticides work well to eliminate them.

  • Slugs and Snails -The damage slugs and snails can do, especially in the garden, is beyond nasty. Some of the predatory bugs listed above can help keep slug and snail populations under control, but if your lawn is already home to a few thousand, it might be more of a challenge. Physically picking them off your plants and placing them in your compost pile is a great method, although it's time consuming. Attracting birds to the yard can also be helpful. 

  • Chinch Bugs - The chinch bug causes a lot of lawn problems in Florida. It's vital to keep your eye open for patches of damaged grass, much like what you'll see with a grub problem. Then, get the situation under control quickly. Here's some more information on controlling chinch bugs.

  • Sod Webworms - These tan or green critters are especially dangerous to newly-established lawns and areas that are kept very short like athletic fields and golf courses. Because they hatch multiple times throughout the warmest months of the year, it's important to control sod webworms as soon as you note the damage.

  • Mole Crickets - These large, reddish brown crickets burrow through the soil, doing damage to grass roots along the way. They're especially hard on bahiagrass and bermudagrass lawns, but their pencil-thick holes can damage any turf. The best way to control mole crickets is to have a professional treat for them in the early to mid spring before they lay their eggs.

  • Spider Mites - Nearly invisible, these tiny arachnids love hot and dusty conditions like plants and shrubs by the side of the road. You'll have a tough time seeing them with your naked eye, but you'll definitely notice plants yellowing or browning as the mites suck the sap from the leaves. Again, early identification and swift action are key to handling a spider mite infestation.

As always, a healthy and vibrant lawn being cared for with responsible cultural practices is the very best defense against any sort of insect pest. Making your yard and garden inviting for the beneficial bugs will do wonders to keep things balanced and beautiful as well.

For more help with Pensacola lawn services, contact us today or click the button to request a free lawn estimate. 

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Photo Credit: Steve Jurvetson via Flickr

Topics: Lawn Care Tips

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