Last week, we did a brief run-through of some of the most common lawn pests and bugs that can destroy your yard. Mower Source looked at chinches, grubs, ants and moles, and this week, we’ll explore other little critters that can wreak havoc with your hard work.
Cutworms: Nighttime Creepy Crawlies
These little bugs, measuring up to 2″ in length, wait until the sun sets before coming out to destroy your grass. They like to nibble on grass blades right close to the soil’s surface, and you can spot their presence by the 1″-2″ brown spots where the grass has been chewed away. If you’re having trouble distinguishing them from other lawn pests, then hunt for them in the daytime by looking in the damaged sections for their curled up brown bodies.
How to get rid of them: Prevention really is the key here, but it doesn’t take much work to rid your lawn of cutworms. Aerating and watering are the two most important things you can do, as the former will help eliminate breeding and feeding grounds, while the latter helps prevent thatch from building up (which is what cutworms love to burrow in). If you’re not able to do that, then you can use a generic control product in the evening. And if the problem has really gotten out of control, then reseeding or sodding your lawn is what you’ll be faced with.
Caterpillars: Nature’s Dreaded “Before” Lawn Pests
While caterpillars eventually grow into beautiful butterflies, your lawn is not where you want this process to happen. For starters, caterpillars chew holes in grass blades that eventually kill them. You can spot their trail by looking for — you guessed it — grass with many tiny holes in the blades. If you have a super healthy lawn, your grass may be able to compensate for it; most yards, though, eventually succumb to caterpillars’ feedings and little dead spots will appear all over your lawn.
How to get rid of them: If you don’t have too many caterpillars, you may be able to just remove them by hand. But if that’s not possible, then you’ll want to attack them early in the season (i.e. around April or May, when the nights start to stay above the frost level). A really easy way is to spray soapy water on your grass, but if it’s too late in the season for that, then you’ll have to make do with an insecticide specifically geared toward caterpillars.
Mole Crickets: Underground Cousins to Moles
Mole crickets share a bit more than just a name with moles: they also live underground like their name cousins, burrowing beneath the surface to attack grass from below. They find grass blade roots tasty, which is bad news because the problem quite literally takes on a whole new level of depth. Because they live underground, you probably won’t spot them but if you do, then you’ll be looking for brown-gray crickets up to 2″ in length. If there’s a spot of bright news, mole crickets tend to live solely in the Southeastern United States, so you may never even run into them.
How to get rid of them: Tunnels and mounds are the easiest ways to spot these lawn pests, as mole crickets can dig up to 20 feet in length. If those aren’t present, then you may be able to detect their presence with spongy-feeling grass. Your best bet is to attack them early in the season (spring) and when you first spot their damage. Waiting longer than that means they have a chance to take over your grass and treatment becomes much more difficult. To get rid of them, use an insecticide that’ll remove them but not damage your grass. Again, we can’t stress enough just how important it is to get at them really early on, as waiting means they have a chance to go underground and cause damage unseen.