While we are enjoying summer picnics many lawn insect pests may also be throwing their own parties. With only a few weeks of ideal growing conditions left for our lawns to recover from summer disease or insect damage, it is important that we do not ignore their presence and take steps to manage them. Most damaging lawn insects include chinch bugs, caterpillars of cutworms, sod webworms and fall armyworms, two-lined spittlebugs, and the larvae of billbugs and several beetle species compositely referred to as white grubs.
Without careful scouting the presence of these insects can go unnoticed until thresholds are exceeded and severe damage has already occurred to the lawn. There are a few natural hints that can alert us to make closer inspections of the turf and soil. Increased activity of birds or paper wasps on the lawn often indicates high populations of caterpillars, particularly fall armyworms. Tale-tale signs of grubs are the digging of skunks, raccoons, armadillos, etc. in the lawn. Yellowing circular patterns of turf in the sunniest areas of the lawn may signal chinch bug injury and frothy spittle (spit) in the turf flags spilltlebug nymphs.
Extension publication #2331 “Control of Insect Pest in and around the Home Lawn” is an excellent reference that will help properly identify these and other lawn pests and give recommendations for their management. This publication can be obtained from local Extension offices or downloaded.
Published August 2, 2010
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com