Biology of Plant & Grass Growth
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Yard Pests

Home is where the heart is, and that isn’t just referring to your house either. That includes your yard as well. You want a yard that is lush, green, and safe for your entire family year-round. You’ve probably worked really hard to make it a beautiful, welcoming place for your family, friends, and pets. That definitely doesn’t include unwelcome guests like lawn pests. That’s why it’s so important to you to keep them out of your home and off of your lawn where they can do a great deal of damage. In addition, they can pose a danger to kids and pets when they’re playing in the yard. They can cause bites that are painful as well as life-threatening illnesses in some cases.

While many of these damaging pests can be recognized almost immediately by their handiwork, others can be very intrusive, wreaking havoc on your lawn and landscaping before you even realize that they’ve arrived. On the other hand, some insects can actually be beneficial, which is yet another great reason to let the professionals handle your pest control issues. Treatments should be ongoing to prevent all of those seasonal pests from causing a total re-infestation of your beautiful yard. So, since we know how much you care about your family, your pets, and your yard, here are a few destructive pests to be aware of and watch out for:

White Grubs

During the Summer months, beetles are busy laying their eggs all over your lawn and garden down in the soil. Then growing and maturing, those eggs hatch and turn into grubs that are C-shaped. They are extremely destructive, and the destruction won’t even be noticed until Fall when you can tell they’ve been there feasting on your lawn because it has turned brown from lack of water and nutrients thanks to all of those white grubs. You might also see other signs of an infestation in the form of beetles like Japanese beetles, chafers, May beetles, and Junebugs who are there to lay their eggs. In addition, squirrels, skunks, and raccoons like to eat white grubs, so their digging in your yard to find them can cause even more damage. Without treatment, the destruction will just continue.

Mole Crickets

This pest can cause significant damage to both your lawn and garden. They don’t just eat the roots but the leaves and stems as well. They also build tunnels that other damaging insects can use to get into your garden. They lay their eggs in the spring and two months later, they hatch, increasing the infestation exponentially. If these pests are left untreated, they’ll just get bigger and more destructive by summer, so you should apply treatments at least two or three times annually. Controlling them can be difficult for homeowners, so professional pest control, as an integral part of your lawn maintenance routine, is recommended.

Fleas and Ticks

Whether you have furry family pets or not, there are numerous ways for your lawn to suffer a flea and tick infestation. Wild animals, like deer and raccoons, can carry them and then the flea and ticks will lay their eggs in your yard. And, once they get into your garden or on your lawn, your family and pets become their next targets. Fleas often carry parasites like tapeworms and ticks are often responsible for transmitting Lyme disease. So, for the sake of your family and your pets, effective pest control is a must for eliminating fleas and ticks, as is treating Fido and your carpets at the same time.

Fire Ants

Nobody likes ants, but fire ants are even more hated than most other ants. The reason is that they get disturbed easily, and their response is to bite, not just once but repeatedly. Their bites are not only quite painful, but they can also be deadly. Those at higher risk are kids, the elderly, and people with immune systems that have been compromised. Fire ants travel quickly and give off pheromones to other ants when disturbed, thereby increasing their numbers. At that point, they will all attack anything that moves. They’re small, look like regular ants, but are bright red. Watch for their mounds, which are large and often appear overnight, and treat with one of the products recommended below.

Pincher Bugs or Earwigs

Although the jury is still out on whether or not these pests do or do not actually pinch, the fact is that they will eat the plants in your garden. They are generally found in the moist areas of your yard, like in places where the concrete is cracked, which exposes the soil beneath it, as well as underneath damp leaves. Treating your yard promptly when you see these pests to avoid further damage to your lawn and garden is a must. Earwigs have gained a silly reputation for burrowing into people’s brains, but that was just a fallacy that was perpetrated by old horror movies. They do, however, have little pinchers and have been known to use them if provoked, but all they do is pinch, and they simply need to be eliminated from your yard to minimize damage by using effective pest control.

Rose Sawflies

If you have rose bushes in your garden, you might find out just how difficult rose flies are to deal with. They can strip the leaves from your rose bushes in no time flat even while still in their larval stage. Using a Neem oil spray can help with controlling them in the spring, so they don’t get out of control during the summer months. The problem with these pests is that it’s usually too late for Neem oil if you wait until the damage is already noticeable. At that point, you’ll need to use much stronger pest control. Or, better yet, hire a professional who knows exactly what to use as a part of your overall lawn care service.

Armyworms

The behavior of armyworms is the basis for their name. They systematically march across your yard like an army. While still in the larvae stage, they are capable of consuming all of the food sources available to them, including your lawn and garden. When they run out of food in one spot, they march on to find new host plants. They mainly feed on grasses, but their diet can also include certain vegetables and other plants. Their larvae vary in color from a dark green/brown to black with white, orange, or brown stripes on their abdomens. When they become moths, they are about an inch long and have a wingspan of 1.5 inches. They’re usually a tan color and generally have a little white spot on their forewings. To protect your lawn and garden, prompt treatment is necessary with an effective pest control product.

Billbugs

Billbugs are generally white and have brown heads. They are a small humpbacked grub that can measure from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. As adults, they become black in color and are slow-moving weevils that you may sometimes see on your driveway or sidewalk when the weather is warm. Their larvae can cause severe damage to your lawn when they hollow out the stems of the grass and chew off the roots. There are several billbug species, with the Bluegrass billbug the most common, attacking all kinds of bluegrass, fine fescue, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. One other related species can be found in Georgia, and it’s called the Hunting billbug. The damage that they cause can appear from June to early August as patches in your lawn that are spotty and straw-colored. All of the billbug species can cause severe lawn and garden damage, and proper pest control treatment is required.

Cutworms

Cutworms are night-flying moth larvae that feed on the stems of plants at soil level or below. They can chew right through the plant stems at their base, destroying the entire plant in many cases. In the summer, cutworms often crawl all over the tops of plants, doing even more damage there. The majority of these pests attack a variety of plants, including turfgrass. Regularly checking in late afternoon or evening can help with detecting these destructive pests. Look for plants that have been cut off close to the ground and those that are wilting. Controlling them is most effective when their larvae are still very small, so prompt detection and treatment is a must.

Chinch Bugs

Hairy chinch bugs can become an infestation that reaches the size of 150-200 pests per square foot. Their large populations often go unnoticed by homeowners because the insects themselves are tiny and they blend in with the color of the grass. In addition, they can go completely unnoticed during droughts. Adults are approximately 1/6 inch in length with gray/black bodies, reddish legs, and white wings. Their meals of choice include bentgrass, bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and red fescue. The damage that they inflict on lawns often tends to be less recognizable in the spring, frequently appearing during the early weeks of July through the end of August when they actively feed. They cause severe damage when they remove the plant fluids and inject a toxin, causing grass to turn yellow, and then reddish-brown before dying altogether. Controlling them with proper pest control measures can save your lawn from damage and destruction.

Sod Webworms

Several sod webworm species are commonly known for infesting lawns, including the bluegrass sod webworm, the burrowing sod webworm, and the silver-striped sod webworm. The larvae of any one of them can be responsible for causing significant damage to your lawn. When they become adults, they are easy to spot because they have a long snout and a 3/4 to one-inch wingspan. They generally hide in your shrubs during the daylight hours and come out at night to fly over your grass in a zigzag pattern as the females drop as many as 200 eggs onto your grass. The larval damage often causes baseball-size brown patches on lawns with the most severe damage occurring during July and August. Applying insecticides during the late afternoon or early evening is the most effective method since that’s when they are the most active.

Leading Consumer Brands

There are several reputable major brands of insecticides for pest control in your yard. The two major prerequisites of a good product are effectively killing the pests while being harmless to people and pets. Here are a few leading brands of products that we have researched for you and your lawn:

1) Bayer
Bayer products are well-known for their signature blue bottle and offer effective methods of protecting and nurturing your lawn and garden. Their line of products includes several one-step solutions for feeding and protecting your lawn, flowers, trees, and shrubs. Their lawn-specific pest control products include 24-Hour Grub Killer, Fire Ant Killer Dust, and several other grub control products.

2) Sevin
Sevin is an insecticide product line from a company called GardenTech. They have been manufacturing their broad-spectrum pest control products for 55 years, and their products include dusts, granules, concentrates, and ready-to-use spray formulations that use dual-mode action. Specific products for your yard include Over’n Out!® Advanced fire ant control, Lawn Granules Bug Killer, and more.

3) Ortho
Ortho is a product line from the well-known Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and their products that are specially designed for pest control in lawns and gardens include Home Defense® Insect Killer Granules, Ready-To-Spray Ortho® Bug B Gon® Insect Killer For Lawns & Gardens, four products for effectively killing fire ants, and several products for killing fleas and ticks.

4) Spectracide
Spectracide is a very useful product line from Spectrum Brands, who has been in business since the early 1900s. Their lawn and garden pest control products include Triazicide insect killer concentrate for lawns and landscapes, Spectracide Ant Shield granules, Spectracide Malathion Insect Spray, and more.