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What’s Eating My Lawn? Look Out For These 3 Florida Lawn Pests

by Emily Durgan | Thu, May 14, 2015

In the months ahead a variety of insects will attempt to eat lawns throughout the Florida Panhandle. And every year, we get plenty of calls here at GreenEarth Landscape Services from nervous homeowners wondering, "What's eating my lawn?!"

Making that call is a step in the right direction: Identifying the culprit is essential to treating the lawn for insect infestations.

Different grass types are attacked by different Florida lawn pests, and how we treat those pests is unique to the type of insect present. Here’s a brief look at three Florida lawn pests common in our Panhandle region — getting all the information is the next step in getting rid of them for good.

Florida Lawn Pest #1: Chinch Bug

chinch bugs are common lawn pests in North Florida lawnsSt. Augustine turf is susceptible to an insect called chinch bug. Chinch bugs feed on the leaves of the St. Augustine. Their feeding activity in the early stages can look like a dry area in the turf. The chinch bug is small and not easy to see without a magnifying glass. If caught and treated early the turf should recover with a little extra fertilizer to help it fill back in.

Unchecked, chinch bugs will eat an entire lawn over time. They tend to return in the same areas year after year. This makes prevention a good option to help with control. Products labeled for Chinch bug control are available locally.

Though Chinch bugs present the biggest threat, St. Augustine is also prone to Mole Crickets, Sod webworm and grubs.

Florida Lawn Pest #2: Mole Crickets

mole crickets are common lawn pests in North Florida lawnsMole crickets are often found in Zoysia, Bermuda and Centipede lawns. Occasionally they do infest St. Augustine. The crickets feed on the roots of the turf and make tunnels through the soil. Their activity softens the soil and makes the lawn feel squishy as you walk across.

Because they damage the roots of the turf, recovery is not likely. Adult mole crickets are very hard to treat. The products we use target the nymph stage that usually emerges this time of year. Breaking the life cycle to prevent future generations is thought to be the best method to subdue populations of Mole crickets.

Baits are available locally and should be applied late afternoon and not watered for 24-48 hours after application.

Florida Lawn Pest #3: Sod Webworms & Armyworms

webworms and armyworms are common lawn pests in the Florida turfSod webworms and army worms are typically active in mid-late summer. Moths deposit eggs into the thatch of turf areas. A larvae that looks similar to a caterpillar emerges and feeds on the leaves of the grass.

Similar to chinch bugs, turf recovery is possible if treated quickly. The caterpillars move quickly and require diligent scouting to catch them before they do damage.

Have Questions About The Health Of Your Lawn?

More information on these insects and proper treatments can be found on the county extension website. If you have questions about possible lawn pests and diseases on your property, or you want to talk about keeping your lawn and landscaping as healthy as possible, give us a call.

You can reach us 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 our simple online form to schedule a consultation.

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Images: Chinch, Mole cricket, Fall armyworm

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