Recently, we discussed some of the best practices you can use to keep your lawn looking great throughout the hot summer months in Northwest Florida. Though you are taking steps to protect your lawn, there could be enemies that keep you from enjoying a healthy lawn this summer. Who are these enemies? Common lawn pests like the chinch bug, mole cricket, and sod web worm. Here is how to be prepared to fight them off and preserve all of your hard work.
The chinch bug is one of the most common lawn pests in our area. We’ve talked about chinch bugs before and they’re not any less prevalent today.
They’re pretty small – between 1/3” and ½” long, with black bodies and white wings. The immature nymphs are pink or red with a white stripe across their middle. They live off the juices inside your grass blades, and they have a poison in their system that kills the grass blade after they’re done with it, so their damage is doubly destructive.
When chinch bugs are infesting your lawn, you’ll see brown and bare patches that look like drought damage. If you’re seeing these spots on an otherwise healthy and properly watered lawn, chinch bugs are your next most likely culprit.
The mole cricket is a lot bigger and usually easier to spot than the chinch bug. The trouble is, as its name hints at, the mole cricket spends most of its time burrowing in the ground where it disrupts the roots of your grass.
They can be anywhere from 1/8” to 2” long depending on their maturity, and both the tawny and southern mole cricket species exist in Florida. As burrowers, they tend to damage the grass roots through feeding when they are younger, and then affect the soil as they get larger and more mature. Much like chinch bugs, you’ll notice patches of turf that appear dry or dead when mole crickets are present.
The sod webworm is not actually a worm, but a caterpillar, the larval stage of the sod webworm moth.
Again, brown or yellowing patches in the lawn are a possible sign of a sod webworm infestation. Often, you’ll notice that the patches are found in sunny areas and the areas directly adjacent to a driveway or roadway.
Another way you can tell sod webworm apart from chinch bug damage is to pay attention to the presence birds. Birds will often hang around and feed in and around the damaged portions of the lawn if there are webworms present.
For all three of these bugs, early detection and smart, ecological action are important to stop them from damaging your lawn. It’s not always easy, and it may take multiple attempts to completely resolve the issue, but the end result is a healthy lawn.
If you have any questions or concerns with pest problems in your lawn, contact us to discuss what a professional lawn care and pest management program can do to keep your lawn looking great this summer. To learn more, see our full list of the most common Pensacola lawn pests.