As the temperatures rise and our lawns flourish with growth throughout the summer, we see more lawn insect pests. St. Augustine grass lawns are particularly susceptible to chinch bug injury. Centipede and zoysia can have severe infestations of two-lined spittle bugs. Zoysia and bermudagrass can be attacked by specific microscopic mites specific to each species. Lawn caterpillars such as sod webworms, cutworms, and armyworms will feed on all of our turf species. Mole crickets and white grubs of several types of beetles and billbugs can destroy the roots of lawn grasses. While fire ants, ticks and fleas, slugs and snails do little damage to the turf, they certainly can be annoying and even a liability.
The key to successful lawn insect pest management is weekly scouting for their presence and proper use of insecticides before damaging thresholds are reached. This may require getting on your hands and knees to part the turf canopy to look closely for small nymphs and immature larvae or digging a small square of turf up to discover root feeders like white grubs and billbug larvae.
Over the next couple of weeks I will discuss in more detail several of these pests, but to learn more about these insects, their injury symptoms, how to locate and identify them, and insecticides for their control, you can also refer to Extension publication #2331 Control of Insect Pests in and Around the Home Lawn. This publication can be downloaded or obtained from your local Extension office.
Published August 1, 2011
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. firstname.lastname@example.org