You work hard to have a beautiful green lawn at home or your commercial property. But Florida’s lovely warm climate is also a welcoming one for many pests, and they appreciate your turfgrass, too.
So what are the biggest pest threats to your Florida turfgrass this season, and what can you do about it?
Mole crickets aren’t new in in Florida, but they continue to be a huge problem. They love turfgrass, and have specially adapted “hands” for digging. They’ll tunnel through soil, whether it’s a home lawn, a golf course or commercial landscaping. They eat roots, grass and seedlings, causing the ground to bulge and grassy areas to turn brown.
With mole cricket eggs laid in April and May, and most grass damage occurring from August to October, now is the best time to get the problem under control.
Mole Cricket Symptoms
If you notice brown patches of grass, you might want to do the official mole cricket test. Put 1½ ounces of liquid dishwashing soap into 2 gallons of water. Pour that over 4 square feet of grass. If two to four mole crickets wash up within a few minutes, you have a problem.
How To Get Rid Of Mole Crickets
What are your options? There are two categories:
Liquid and granular pesticides are effective at killing these crickets. You might need to reapply them every few months, and irrigation is sometimes helpful to bring the pesticide into the cricket tunnels. Insecticide baits can also work. GreenEarth Landscape Services can help you determine the best option and implement it.
Those who don’t want to use pesticide do have other options, such as setting an armadillo or raccoon loose, or allowing birds to swoop down and snack on them. Seriously! These natural predators enjoy a meal of mole crickets. But they may not be the simple answer to your prayers, especially since they may also dig and damage your lawn to get to their food.
Some land owners find success using Larra wasps, which aren’t harmful to humans. Without making squeamish readers uncomfortable, just know that adults lay eggs on the crickets, and the larvae and nymphs feed off the cricket, eventually killing it. To attract wasps, you’ll want to plant shrubby false buttonweed and partridge pea wildflowers, which provide nectar the adult wasps like. Plant it and they will come. Even if you don’t have mole cricket problems, you might want to plant some as a precautionary measure.
Another natural option are parasitic nematodes that feed only on mole crickets. Talk to us at GreenEarth if you’d like to learn more about this option.
Another fun pest Florida turfgrasses battle are chinch bugs. They really like St. Augustine grass, and March to November is their active period in Northwest Florida. You can find the chinch bugs and their eggs on leaf sheaths or soft soil, and they tend to clump together in groups.
Spotting A Chinch Bug Problem
Grass infested with chinch bugs often turns yellow and deteriorates, like it’s dissolving. Things can go south quickly.
Separate the grass near the yellowed areas, looking inside the bottom leaf sheath. They’re most active on warm, sunny afternoons.
If that doesn’t work, break out a small vacuum cleaner to try sucking up the little buggers near the plant roots. Empty it on the sidewalk to see if there are any small black adults or reddish orange nymphs.
How To Get Rid of Chinch Bugs
This time, biologic controls like other insects aren’t as effective, as there generally aren’t enough predators to keep them in check.
Your best bet is a comprehensive, integrated pest management program using insecticides to rid your lawn of chinch bugs and prevent them from getting out of control in the future.
Call The Professionals
Give us a call at our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to set up an appointment. You can also fill out the online form on our website to schedule a consultation.
Image credit: Chinch