Having a visually-appealing and vibrantly-green lawn is the gold standard of many American lawn care enthusiasts. While completing the essential lawn care practices, including watering, trimming, and fertilizing, pose less of a challenge, dealing with an extensive pest invasion can induce anxiety in any unsuspecting homeowner.
When luscious and green, your lawn is a sight to behold. By contrast, when your yard is browning and patchy due to pest invasion, it becomes unsightly. If your front yard has become the neighborhood eyesore, you may suffer the consequences of decreased property value and disgruntled neighbors. Not to mention, these wilting lawns can curtail outdoor activities like backyard barbeques and other social gatherings.
To avoid these negative consequences, it would be best to partner with esteemed pest control experts like Joshua’s Pest Control. Since lawn pests are numerous and varied, hiring an exterminator may be crucial in mitigating damage and preventing future infestations.
Common lawn pests
To keep your lawn pest-free, you need to be familiar with the possible perpetrators so that you can properly customize your pest control plan. Below is a list of common pests most likely to wreak havoc on your front and backyards.
Grubs, found in most parts of North America, are the larva stage of beetles. Those pests that inflict damage on your outdoor spaces are scarab beetles, which typically lay eggs during the summer. In most cases, these eggs will hatch in two weeks. The outcome? C-shaped larva that feast on your grasses’ roots just below the soil surface.
During winter, maturing grubs burrow deep into the soil (below the frost-line) and hibernate for several months. When warm weather approaches, white grubs become active and start feeding on your lawn’s roots, causing patchiness. Finally, they pupate, then transform into adults within several weeks.
With this information in mind, how can a homeowner tell there if there’s a grub infestation? Wilted grass blades are the first tell-tale symptom. Other side effects of grub invasions include browning grass and unsightly lawn patches. Note that grass that easily pulls out of the soil implies the existence of grubs. Similarly, the presence of crows, raccoons, and moles will suggest that their prey (lurking grubs) are nearby.
If you can’t spot any of these signs, keep an eye out for beetles flying around your lawn, as this will indicate a nest in close proximity. To be 100% sure, dig up the soil in one of the potentially grub-infested areas and lift it. If grubs are the culprits, you’ll likely catch them in the act.
For homeowners hoping to avoid manual labor, you could also follow this handy guide on identifying white grubs in grassy areas with ease.
Given their sturdy wings and strong hind legs, grasshoppers are always on the move, making them hard to control. Grasshoppers have a huge appetite and are always seeking food sources, including plants, weeds, grasses, and other kinds of vegetation. Unlike some pest varieties, grasshoppers don’t discriminate when it comes to potential energy sources.
If you suspect that grasshoppers have targeted your front or backyard, you should note that grasshoppers vary in color and size. Generally speaking, most are either green or brown and often grow up to two inches in length. But don’t let their size fool you. These pests can have devastating effects on your landscape, especially those migratory grasshoppers move in swarms of millions.
In a best-case scenario, homeowners will find numerous patches in your lawn during a grasshopper infestation. In more severe cases, grasshoppers can cause widespread lawn damage, extending up to several yards in length.
Armyworms are in the larva stage of becoming a moth. As their name suggests, armyworms will declare a fierce battle with your lawn. Their color ranges from yellow to gray to green, depending on the species. So, keep an eye out for any insects in these color varieties.
If left undisturbed, pests cause considerable damage to your lawn, as they feed on grass blades consistently throughout the day. When the infestation reaches a point of severity, your yard appears as if it’s moving since these worms march and feed simultaneously.
Typically, armyworms seek refuge away from the sun, which means they are most active in the evening, night, and early in the morning. Be sure to plan your pesticide application accordingly and carve out time before your after your 9-to-5 to spray for armyworms.
Are you wondering if you’re at risk of an armyworm infestation? Armyworms are common in most parts of the United States. However, they’re the most prevalent in the eastern U.S.
Found throughout the US, chinch bugs are small insects that feed on plants throughout the seven stages of their lifecycle. These bugs extract nutrients out of your delicate grasses, leaving them to perish and wither.
Chinch bug infestations are likely to occur from June to September—their most active feeding period. In the early stages of an infestation, homeowners will often notice irregular patches on your lawn that start with a purple tinge and shift to yellow or brown.
Because of wilting, homeowners often mistake these pest invasions for run-of-the-mill drought-stress. However, a closer look will reveal the identity of the culprit. When investigating your lawn for chinch bugs, search for red spots that indicate eggs laid by chinch bugs.
Moles and other diggers
Some mammals like moles, chipmunks, and groundhogs can create problems for your lawn. If you spot a volcano-like mound of soil, it’s a sign that moles are at work. Soil mounds form as moles dig further below the ground’s surface, causing unsightly damage. Sometimes, homeowners may notice the grass shaking as moles munch on the roots from underground.
Note that moles are prevalent in damp landscapes, as it’s easier to dig. If you live in an arid region, tailoring your pest control strategy to mole mitigation and prevention won’t be a worthwhile pursuit.
Sod webworms are about three-quarters of an inch long and are usually brown, gray, or green with dark spots. These pests feed on foliage and stems, leaving brown patches in their wake. Holes could be present in leaves, as birds forage for the worms.
Ants are one of America’s most common outdoor insects. If left unchecked, they can venture indoors in search of shelter. Besides transmitting disease, ants can leave behind a trail of destruction, which may compromise your premises’ structural integrity.
If you spot anthills in your front or backyard, that’s a sure sign that your lawn is ants-infested. While ants don’t typically cause damage to plants, they can still be a nuisance. If a homeowner fails to address these infestations, it’s only a matter of time before they find their way into the adjacent structures.
Japanese beetles are the worst nightmare of homeowners in the United States. Like grubs, the larvae feed on the roots while the adults (characterized by their metallic green and bronze color) feed on the foliage. The aftermath? Skeletonized leaves and disfigured buds and flowers.
To determine whether beetles are responsible for visible lawn destruction, you can refer to common clues. For example, have you recently spotted a Japanese beetle flying around your yard?
If you’re having trouble differentiating regular beetles from the destructive Japanese beetle, inspect your lawn for any damage. Take a closer look at your roses and raspberry bushes, as these are two of the Japanese beetle’s favorite menu items.
Minor lawn damage usually goes unnoticed until extensive damage occurs. Thankfully, you can take control of your lawn by observing signs that generally indicate a pest infestation. While you could eradicate some of the pests yourself, you should consider partnering with a professional exterminator when dealing with stubborn insects like those mentioned above.
While executing a pest control strategy may seem arduous, the final product will be well worth the time and energy commitment. After all, a pest-free lawn is a perfect place for your family and friends to unwind or host a backyard party. For the vibrant green yard that you’ve always envisioned, keep an eye out for any sign of possible damage, and act swiftly.
Sarah Eberle qualified and became a member of the Landscape Institute in 1980. Over the last 26 years she has practised landscape architecture and garden design, running her own business in Devon.
During the 1990s, Sarah joined Hillier Landscapes as Design Director, where she is still a shareholder but also runs her own practice in Hampshire.
Sarah has an esteemed record in RHS shows, having won eight Gold medals, Best in Show and the George Cook award for innovation twice at Hampton Court. Sarah has also exhibited at Tatton Park and BBC Gardeners’ World Live.