For many people, their lawns are a point of pride. Well-maintained and healthy lawns can add so much beauty to your home and often make for great curbside appeal. But when parts of your lawn suddenly go from lush greens to brown and dying, you know you’ve got a problem. But once you’re looking at a dead patch, it can be hard to know where to start. If you’re lucky, someone just parked their car on the grass for a week and now you know not to do that.
But what if some insect or animal has taken up residence and started to dig into your beautiful yard? Do you know how to find the responsible pests? For instance, grasshoppers routinely feed on grass blades while gophers prefer getting their nutrition from the roots of the grasses. And some animal pests like the vole that was once more common in other climates have seen surges as far as South Florida. Each can wreck havoc on your landscaping, but the damage they cause will vary, as will the solutions needed to combat them.
If your lawns have mounds of soil that look like raised ridges on your lawn, then your lawn is under attack by a mole(s). Most of the time, these mounds are exit points for moles that have tunneled through the soil in search of food.
A basic rule is that if you can see the mounds, then there are meters of tunnels underneath your lawn. You’ll often find moles in lawns that have been excessively watered, resulting in soft soil — this tends to make a yard more attractive to these sorts of “guests.” They don’t typically eat or damage your plants directly, but by rooting around in the soil around your plants in search of worms and grubs, they can dig out and displace your foliage.
Voles are smaller rodents that feed on grass and create obvious trails across your lawns. Like the mole, this is a small tunneling rodent, but unlike the mole, a vole infestation will immediately strike at the leaves and roots of your plants — their very favorite foods. Their preferred nesting grounds are also slightly different from those of their cousins. The vole tends to prefer areas with high foliage that will assist them in staying hidden.
June and Japanese Beetles
These are popular lawn pests that routinely feed on your lawn’s foliage. In fact, they are often called America’s worst lawn pests because their adults feed on flowers while their larvae feed on roots.
Check for the physical appearance of these beetles on your roses in particular as they tend to favor and feed on rose flowers. If you notice beetles flying around, chances are that maybe even using your lawn as a nesting ground as they’ll lay eggs which hatch into larva forms called grubs (we’ll talk about this next.)
These are the larval forms of the above, as well as other beetles. These are dangerous to your lawns because they feed on grass roots, creating patches of dry brown or dead foliage in the process.
They can be in this form for weeks, burrowing 4-8 inches into the soil during the winter and emerging during the spring to feed. This is why they are dangerous as they can effectively consume lots of grass during this phase.
Is the grass on your lawn looking reddish-brown or yellow? If yes, you just might have a chinch bug infestations they tend to inject grasses with toxins when they are done feeding on the grass. These pests favor grasses like the Kentucky bluegrass, bentgrass, perennial ryegrass and red fescues.
What to Do to Remove These Lawn Pests
Removing these pests often requires multiple approaches. The application of castor oil can help repel moles and voles.
Also, eliminating food sources such as grubs and other insects through the introduction of birds –by spraying bird seeds- will discourage them from frequenting your lawn. As for the insects, reduce the rate at which you water your lawn.
Most of these bugs –grubs in particular- will either die off or migrate when you dry off an excessively watered lawn. You could also introduce nematodes and milky spores to control and kill off grubs.
If all these don’t work, then you can contact your local pest control experts to handle the infestation.