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Turf Damaging Insects

Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs


Chinch bugs are a complex of three different species within the Lygaeidae family. They have piercing-sucking mouth parts and they feed on the sap of grass plants. They reside in the thatch area of the turf grass and prefer to feed on the lower leaf sheath and crown area of the plant.  

As the weather warms in the spring, adults move into open areas, where females begin laying eggs. Fifteen to 20 eggs per day are deposited for two to three weeks. The eggs hatch in one to two weeks and the nymphs begin to suck the juices from host plants. It takes 30-90 days to reach adulthood.

Sod Webworm Moth

Sod Webworm Moth


The moths hide during the day in the grass and in nearby shrubbery and are attracted to light at night.  An indication of their presence is the light tan-brown colored moths which scatter as you walk through the yard or disturb nearby shrubbery. 

They do not cause damage, but they are depositing eggs which will result in their offspring, the caterpillars, which do the turf chewing.  The eggs hatch in about seven days.  When the eggs hatch the caterpillars begin their feeding frenzie on the blades of grass.

Sod Webworm Catepillar

Sod Webworm Catepillar

These insects  remain curled up in the soil during the day and feed at night.  Newly hatched larvae skeletonize or chew holes in the smaller grass blades, while older and larger larvae chew on grass blades near the soil surface. 

The caterpillars do not cause damage to shrubbery. The life cycle can be completed in six weeks with the moths living up to two weeks.  This pest is active year-round in south Florida. 

Grubs

Grubs


White grubs are immature scarab beetles. Beetles bore down into the soil and lay eggs.  As the eggs hatch, the larvae or grub worm begins looking for food. They move in a vertical pattern in the ground. When white grubs feed on grass root system, the grass gradually thins, yellows, and dies.  This makes the grass feel soft and spongy.

Scattered, irregular, brown patches of grass appear, which increase in size over time. The root injury reduces the turf's ability to take up water and nutrients and withstand drought stress. Heavily infested grass pulls up easily as if pulling up on carpeting. If left untreated, the chance of significant damage is nearly certain.

Armyworms

Armworms


Armyworm larvae vary in color from dark greenish-brown to black. On each side, there are long, pale white, orange, and dark brown stripes along the length of the abdomen. 

 It is believed that armyworms get their name from their habit of moving across fields in an army-like fashion. As larvae consume available food sources, they migrate as an army to new host plants.

Larvae are also active at night, feeding on host plants. Eggs are deposited at night in rows or clusters on the lower leaves of grasses or at the base of plants, often hatching in 1 to 2 weeks. A single female may live as an adult for 17 days and produce up to 2,000 eggs.  Adults emerge in 1 to 2 weeks. 

 Identifying Symptoms

Identifying Symptoms

When damage is present in the lawn the first line of defense is proper irrigation.  Turn on the irrigation system zone by zone and check for broken or blocked heads, uneven coverage, broken water lines, etc.  If it is determined that lack of water is not the cause of the damage, examine further.

Look closely at the damaged area of turf.  Are there specific symptoms visible as described on this page?  It is very important to treat these insect threats as soon as possible to stop the damage as quickly as possible.  It may only take a few days to weeks for the damage to become widespread.

If a pest outbreak is suspected in your lawn, call Perfection Lawn & Pest Control, Inc. today. Our professionals will provide you with a no-cost evaluation of your lawn and prescribe the best treatment plan to keep it looking lush, green and beautiful.  Your lawn will be the envy of the neighborhood!