While the middlle of summer can provide optimum growing conditions for a healthy lawn, there are several lawn pests that thrive during these long hot days. Detecting these pests before they cause extensive damage may require getting on your hands and knees at least once a week for careful scouting for the presence of these pests or their injury symptoms.
St. Augustine lawns are particularly susceptible to chinch bug injury now. To find these tiny insects you will need to part the turf canopy to the soil surface along a line where there is a change from damaged yellowing turf to healthy green turf.
The adults of this insect are only about 1/5 of an inch long and black with what appears to be a white X across their backs where their wings fold over. The immature nymphs may be pink to brown with a single white line across their backs. They move rather quickly, so keep an alert eye for their scurrying back into the turf.
Another way to scout for chinch bugs is by cutting both ends from a large coffee can, twisting it into the turf a couple of inches until it will hold water, then filling it with soapy water. In a few minutes the chinch bugs if present will begin swimming on the surface. These insects are somewhat unique in that they prefer hot sunny areas of the lawn to shade, so their injury symptoms generally appear in the open front lawn area first. Carbaryl, cyfluthrin, lambda-cyhalothrin and permethrin are labeled insecticides for their control.
Fall armyworms, white grubs, billbugs, and sod webworms are other lawn damaging insects that may be feasting on your lawn now. To learn more about these insects, their injury symptoms, how to locate and identify them, and insecticides for their control, refer to extension publication #2331 “Control of Insect Pests in and Around the Home Lawn”. This publication may be downloader or obtained from your local Extension office.
Getting on your knees to get a closer view of your lawn will help spot pests problems before they become devastating and while you are down there a little prayer couldn’t hurt either.
Published July 31, 2006
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