Be Vigilant for Destructive Lawn Insects

Kali Zammit, Schmit, Rene G.  |  8/8/2014 6:44:14 PM

Mid to late summer is the time of year we typically encounter a greater level of damage to southern lawns from grass eating insects that include chinch bugs, armyworms and sod webworms. All three of these pests are currently on the move and homeowners should remain vigilant by inspecting their lawns on a regular basis, at least until the end of September. Damage symptoms are basically the same from all three types of these insects where areas of the lawn develop irregular and enlarged circular type patterns of brown grass. The symptoms mimic that of a fungal disease such as brown patch which is more prevalent during cooler spring and fall months rather than during the hot summer months.

There are several indicators to warn that an infestation of sod webworms or armyworms may be occurring. These include: adult moths ascending from the turf during mowing; an unusual number of birds feeding in the yard; grass leaves that exhibit chewing marks; and small silky webs dotting the lawn early in the morning when dew is on the ground. A sure method for determining the presence of one or more of these destructive pests is to mix a soapy solution in a couple gallons of water and pour it on a transition area of the lawn. The transition area would include where the damaged turf transitions to the good turf. Any armyworms in the area will go crazy and tropical webworms if present will begin to move making them easier to spot. Chinch bugs on the other hand are harder to spot because they are so small and move quickly. However, they can be observed using the same soapy solution but pouring it into a top and bottomless coffee can that is placed 3 to 4 inches into the transition area. After filling the can two thirds, wait a few minutes for the chinch bugs to float to the top.

Control for all three of these insects can be accomplished using a lawn insecticide product such as Talstar, Bug Blaster, Sevin, Battle, Seimitar, Maverik, Aquaflow, Ortho Season Long Control or Spectracide Once & Done, just to name a few. Proper application is important so be sure to read and follow label directions to ensure a safe and effective use. Also, consider applying a lawn insecticide annually as a preventive solution to guarding against infestations from these and other damaging lawn insect pests.

Keep in mind that although chinch bugs, sod webworms and armyworms are actively feeding at this time of year does not mean that your lawn is currently infested or will become infested. The key here is to be vigilant and conduct control at the earliest signs of an activity detected.

Rene’ Schmit is the LSU AgCenter County Agent for St. Charles Parish and can be reached at 985-785-4473.
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