Spring has arrived and many of us have already or will begin soon mowing, watering and fertilizing our lawns which are key task in keeping our lawns beautiful. However, these lush attractive lawns are often magnets to entice insects and diseases. To prevent them from causing major destruction to the lawn it is important that we learn how to identify their presence and select management strategies that will keep them in check. Insect damage is often times misdiagnosed as a disease or vice versa and applying an insecticide for a disease problem or a fungicide for an insect problem will not only be ineffective but also a waste of time and money.
Developing a few scouting routines now as your lawn begins to break winter dormancy will help you better control these lawn pests throughout the growing season. At least once a week take the time to walk your lawn looking for subtle signs of turf turning off color, thinning, or ragged leaf tips. Bend down closely to the ground or better yet get on your hands and knees and part the turf canopy looking for small critters such as caterpillars, small bugs, etc. Notice if leaves have chewed ragged edges, tiny lesions within the leaf blades, or perhaps soggy decay at the base of leaf blades. Observe whether the damage is in circular patterns or uniformly across the entire lawn. If you find any of these symptoms then identify the pests or collect samples and have someone identify them for you then treat appropriately. The Extension website has several good publications that will help you properly identify your lawn pests and give recommendations for their management. A good start would be publications #1322 “Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn” and publication #2331 “Control of Insect Pests in and around the Home Lawn”.
Published March 25, 2013
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org