Here at On The Green Inc., we know that summer lawn pests are not to be taken lightly. From sod webworms to lawn grubs, these pests are responsible for millions of dollars worth of damage to lawns every year. This summer pest control guide will help you identify, eliminate, and prevent these insects from establishing themselves in your yard.
If you’ve seen small, tan-colored moths flying around your lawn this summer, then you’ve probably seen an adult sod webworm. The larval caterpillar of this tiny moth is one of the worst summer lawn pests here in Maryland. It’s responsible for extensive damage to lawns every year. So, what are sod webworms and how do we get rid of them?
How to Identify Sod Webworms:
The adult form of sod webworms is a small tan or white moth that flutter across your lawn. As they fly, they lay eggs on your turf. While the moths don’t cause any turf damage, their eggs hatch into very hungry webworms.
At just under an inch long, these tiny caterpillars have a huge appetite. Large numbers of sod webworms chew on your grass blades, causing swathes of damage that look similar to scalping from a lawnmower. When they’re done feeding for the day, they retreat to their silk tubes in the thatch of your grass. They are most active in late summer.
The best way to diagnose a sod webworm infestation in your lawn is with a mixture of ¼ cup of detergent and two gallons of water. Mark off a few square foot sections where you suspect an infestation. Apply 1 gallon of your mixture to each of the sections and wait. The caterpillars rise to the surface where you can count them and assess the situation
How to Get Rid of Sod Webworms:
If you have more than 15 sod webworms per square foot of your lawn, then you have a problem. The best sod webworm control is a combination of cultural practices and insecticides. Cultural practices like proper irrigation and mowing techniques will help your lawn stay healthy while insecticides will eliminate and prevent the issue. An insecticide program from On The Green Inc. will help keep your lawn free of sod webworms and other insects all summer.
If your lawn looks as if it’s suffering from drought, you may want to take a closer look. This next pest can make short work of any lawn. These summer lawn insects descend like a plague and leave your lawn a dried-out husk. This is the chinch bug and it should not be taken lightly.
How to Identify Chinch Bugs:
So, what do chinch bugs look like and how can you tell if your lawn has chinch bug damage? At about ⅛ inch, chinch bugs are pretty small. These tiny summer lawn pests live in your thatch, just above the soil. Adults are black with white wings that, when folded, have a black dot in the center.
Unfortunately, you’re far more likely to see their damage before you see these tiny terrors. Chinch bugs stab into your grass, sucking out the fluid and injecting a chemical, cutting off your grass’ water supply. Eventually, the grass dies from dehydration, leaving your lawn looking like it’s in the middle of a drought.
Check your turf for strange-shaped yellow or brown spots in your lawn. Inspect these areas for chinch bug activity, counting how many you find. If you find more than 15 in two minutes of searching, then it’s time to invest in chinch bug control.
How to Get Rid of Chinch Bugs:
These summer pests can cause extensive damage to even a healthy lawn. This makes chinch bug control an essential step to your summer lawn care.
As always, cultural practices, like proper irrigation and mowing, will boost your lawn’s health. Healthy lawns are more difficult for lawn pests to infest. If your chinch bug infestation is out of control, then an insecticide spray, applied throughout the summer, could be your answer. This will eliminate the bugs in your yard now and help prevent them from coming back.
If you’ve found a small, c-shaped, white grub in your lawn, then you may be in some trouble. You’ve discovered one of the most destructive pests affecting lawns all over the world. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that damage from grubs is north of $234 million! This summer pest control guide may help you save some money this year.
How to Identify Grubs:
The first step to taking on grub infestations is by first identifying the culprit. The white grubs you see in the dirt under your grass are the offspring of Japanese beetles. Grubs also come from a number of other beetles.
Other Beetles that Produce Lawn-Damaging Grubs:
- Oriental Beetles
- Masked Chafer Beetles
- June Beetles/June Bugs
If you see any of the adult beetles flying around your yard at night or chewing on your leaves during the day, then be on the lookout for grub damage. Grubs, including Japanese beetle grubs, feed on grass roots and the roots of plants. When in great numbers, grubs can be devastating to a lawn.
Signs of Grub Damage Include:
- Irregular patches of brown or yellow grass.
- Able to easily lift up sections of grass, like a carpet.
- Increased animal activity from moles, skunks, raccoons, and birds digging up your yard.
Having too many grubs in your lawn can result in thousands of dollars worth of repairs, or more! To check for grubs, find a spot on your lawn where you suspect activity and pull up a square foot section of your grass. If you find more than 10 white grubs, then it’s time to take action.
How to Get Rid of Grubs:
When it comes to grub control, you have a few options to choose from. The first option will be a grub control program from a local lawn care company, like On The Green Inc. This includes a grub preventative that kills and prevents grubs in your lawn. It even works on surface-feeding insects like ticks and fleas.
Another way to control grubs is with a more natural approach: nematodes. Nematodes will release a bacteria that not only boosts the health of your soil, but also kills off the grubs. It’s a win-win situation!
Spotted lanternflies are the only summer lawn pests on this list that aren’t currently established in Maryland. However, if predictions are correct, they will be here sooner than later. This invasive species originates from Vietnam, China, and India where they feast on their favorite tree, the tree-of-heaven. They made their way to the U.S. in 2014 and have since established themselves in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia.
Spotted lanternflies are the stuff of nightmares for farmers and gardeners everywhere. They’re destructive as young nymphs and mature adults, eating their way through seemingly every type of plant.
Some of the plants that spotted lanternflies damage include:
- Maple Trees
- Apple Trees
- Sycamore Trees
- Oak Trees
- Willow Trees
- Peach Trees
- Walnut Trees
These are just a few of the plants that these destructive summer pests like to snack on. The damage that they do to these plants can be devastating. At some grape vineyards, farmers reported a loss of 90% of their crops due to the spotted lanternfly.
Their ability to feast on just about any plant and lay their eggs on just about any surface make the spotted lanternfly a formidable opponent. Keeping a lookout for these invasive pests is important to keep them from establishing themselves here in Maryland.
How to Identify Spotted Lanternflies:
So, what does a spotted lanternfly look like and how can we identify their damage? A spotted lanternfly is a beautiful insect. At about an inch long, these planthoppers have white wings bespeckled with black spots. Their second set of wings are a bright red with black spots and a black and white band near the tip.
The nymphs are tiny crawling insects. Their earliest form is black with white spots. In July, they molt into their second nymph stage of red with white and black spots. You can spot these nymphs pretty easily. At the beginning and end of every day, these nymphs travel up then down the plant in search of food.
Damage to plants is caused by both the adult lanternfly and the nymphs as they feed. They pierce the stems and leaves of plants, sucking out the sap and leaving behind a powdery residue called honeydew. Honeydew is a sugary substance that attracts wasps, ants, and other pests. It’s also often colonized by sooty mold, which can turn your leaves black, hindering your plant’s energy absorption through photosynthesis.
All around, the spotted lanternfly is one bad bug.
How to Get Rid of Spotted Lanternflies:
An effective method of spotted lanternfly control is to find their egg masses. Lanternfly eggs can be extremely difficult to spot because they often blend into whatever they’re laid on. They also lay their eggs pretty much anywhere, as long as it’s a flat surface.
Keeping a lookout for these egg masses and eliminating them before they hatch is the best way to keep this invasive species from establishing itself in Maryland. An application of dormant oil in the spring will protect your trees and shrubs from overwintering eggs.
If you do find an egg mass or have spotted a spotted lanternfly, it’s important to report it. You can call the Maryland Department of Agriculture at (410) 841-5920 or email them at [email protected].
Don’t hesitate to call On The Green Inc.
If you think you have a pest problem in your yard, don’t hesitate! Call us at On The Green Inc. and we’ll send an expert out to assess the situation. Investing in a lawn care program from On The Green Inc. will ensure your lawn is healthy and pest-free throughout the year. Give us a call at 410-695-0444 or leave us a message on our site.