A healthy lawn provides years of enjoyment for you and your family, yet keeping it healthy and protecting it from insects and other pests is an ongoing challenge. The following are a few common pests and the trails they leave behind to help identify them.
Chewing and sucking insects
Of the millions of insects on earth, less than one percent are considered harmful and fewer yet will cause plant injury. Still, just one hungry insect species, when left to its own devices, can do plenty of damage to your lawn.
- Insects damage plants by chewing on them or sucking away vital fluids. Japanese Beetles are well-known chewers; aphids are among the most common sucking insects. Sucking insects cause plants to turn a pale green or yellow and slow their growth. Holes in plant leaves are just one indication of chewing insects.
- Insects can damage grass either above or below the ground or in both places. Surface-active insects often do their damage during evening hours. Subsurface-active insects typically destroy turf by feeding on grass roots.
- Grubs, the larvae stage of hundreds of different insects, are sub-surface feeders that feed on grass roots. Kentucky and annual bluegrasses, tall and fine fescues, and bent grasses are popular victims. Damaged turf can easily be lifted from the ground.
Ant farms or nests are unsightly and can be detrimental to lawns or patches of lawn that are already struggling to survive.
- Their presence is easy to identify with the “workers” scurrying above the ground looking for food.
- Isolated colonies usually do little damage to a lawn and actually provide some benefits through natural aeration and feeding on other insects.
- Larger infestations, however, can spread to other areas of the lawn or even beyond the yard.
Moles, Voles, Gophers
These burrowing invaders are similar in appearance and even cause similar damage with different feeding goals in mind.
- Moles are carnivorous and feed on earthworms, grubs, and other insects.
- Voles and gophers are herbivores and prefer plants, grass, and even their seeds.
- In search of food, all three leave behind unsightly tunnels and even holes in your yard.
Usually associated more with damage to flower and vegetable gardens, these furry animals also have an appetite for lawn grass.
- They will eat grass plants down to the very crown, putting stress on the plant. Because they don’t munch on the root system, damaged plants have a good chance of coming back to life.
- Grass that has been gnawed or with brown spots (from urine) are tell-tale signs that rabbits are enjoying some green leaves at your expense.
If you find that unwelcome guests have taken up residence in your lawn or to learn how to minimize temptations to prevent them, contact a lawn care specialist.