Have You Seen Any Of These Insects This Year?

insect lawn

There are three major insect pests that are just ending their current life cycle, Bagworms, and two others that are just beginning to become active, Army Worms and several grub species.

Bagworms

Identification

Bagworms are easily recognized by the case or bag that the larva, a caterpillar, creates and suspends from a branch. In severe infestations, the larva will find just about any suitable vertical surface on which to attach their bag, including the sides of buildings.

The bag is made from bits of plant material along with silk that the larva produces. These bags are very strong and are somewhat camouflaged from view. The larvae exit the bags in search of food and return to the bag to hide from predators.

bagworms.1

Life Cycle

The female never leaves the bag she created. She awaits a visit from the male, who resembles a moth. After the mating process is over, the male dies and the female will lay over 300 eggs within the bag. She will die in the late summer to early fall and the eggs overwinter within the bag. These eggs will hatch the following spring and the whole process starts again.

If you find a few bags hanging in a tree, pull them off and throw them in the garbage. If the bag is just thrown on the ground and the larva is still active, they will crawl back in to the tree and continue feeding and will build a new bag. If you find numerous bags and the larvae are still active, it is best to spray them with an insect control material. You will know if they are still active if the bag wiggles and squirms when disturbed. If none are active, wait until early summer of the next year and then spray for them.

Location

An insect pest of many evergreens including arborvitae, junipers, pines and spruces as well as several deciduous trees like honey locust, black locust and sycamore.

Although they are popular pests in certain parts of the country, they do not spread very quickly as the female does not fly. Their spread may be from infested fire wood, ornamental plants or from “ballooning”(dispersal through strains of silk that the tiny larvae spin, that is picked up on wind currents and blown to other locations).

Army Worms

Identification

Amy worms are light green when they are larvae, but when they mature they turn a yellow hue or brown-green color. When they become adults they have gray-brown forewings with a white dot and gray-white hind-wings.

army worm

Life Cycle

Army Worms lay eggs on leaves of older plants. After five to ten days caterpillars hatch from the eggs. After another ten days pass they will have grown into adults.

Location

Army Worms are beginning their annual migration from Central America to the southern United States. They can be a serious insect pest on more than 60 plant species, including Bermudagrass.

Damage from the mass feeding of the migrating larvae begins showing up in late July to early August. There can be two or three generations of Army worms each year.

As the name implies, Army Worms move across a lawn in a mass population, feeding as they go. Entire lawns can be eaten away in just a day or two. They can often be seen “sunning themselves” on blades of grass during the day. Watch for brown areas that seem to develop overnight. The larvae will often hide in the thatch layer. If seen, apply an insect control material to the lawn.

Grubs

Identification

Grubs, are the larval stage of adult beetles and are c-shaped. They vary in color since they are the beginning stages of many types of beetles and chafers.

grubs

Life Cycle and Location

Grubs will start to hatch soon, especially in the southern states. Depending upon the species, the adults have been laying eggs for several weeks and have now finished doing so.

In the northern parts of the country, the adults are still actively laying eggs. Japanese beetle adults are busy feeding on the leaves of many plants, including roses, lindens and grapes. Females choose lawns that are irrigated or have adequate water to prevent the eggs from drying out.

If you are in the south and your area is prone to grub activity, it may be too late to apply a preventative grub control treatment. You may have to use a product that will work on active grubs. If you are in the north, you are at the very tail end of applying a grub preventative. If your area is prone to grubs, get the material down soon.

If you are not sure what products to use or when to apply them, contact your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professional from Spring-Green.  They can inspect your lawn and design a program that will fit the needs of your lawn.

Lawn Damage from Raccoons and Skunks: Get Rid of the Grubs!

extensive lawn damage from raccoons and skunks

You’ve nurtured your lawn all summer long, and the effort shows. It’s in glorious condition, so obviously now after all your hard work you can get lawn damage from skunks and raccoons. This is the time of year when skunks and raccoons are busy tearing up lawns looking for a grubs. The damage that they can cause to a lawn can be extensive as they search for a tasty meal. I am not sure how they know that grubs are present, but it may be that they can smell the grubs themselves or the fecal matter that they produce… yum. To get rid of skunks and raccoons, you need to get rid of grubs.

How Can These Pests Damage Your Lawn?

Just like a dog, raccoons or skunks will walk across a lawn with their nose to the ground. Their sense of smell is very acute and they are able to detect smells that humans cannot. Once they locate some grubs, they will tear up the lawn, pulling back chunks of turf in search of more food. They may return night after night, trying to see if there are any grubs that they missed the night before. I encountered a situation once where a raccoon returned to the same lawn the following spring and did a little exploratory digging in search of grubs.

What Kinds of Pests Search for Grubs?

Skunks and raccoons are not the only creatures that will feed on grubs. Crows will search for them as well. They usually don’t tear up your turf to the same extent that raccoons or skunks will, but they still can make a mess of your lawn. I once came across a deer, of all things, looking for grubs by clawing at the ground with its hooves. Grubs are a very popular snack to many different creatures.

What to Do if You Have This Damage?

If your lawn does suffer from this type of activity, there is not much you can do to deter animals from returning. I have read that some people try sprinkling cayenne pepper over the area, but this could result in the pepper getting into the eyes of the animal, causing extreme distress, and they may damage their eyes as they try to get the pepper out. I wouldn’t suggest using that method. If the area is not too large, you can try covering it with chicken wire to frustrate them as they try to dig. Don’t leave the chicken wire in place too long though, as it will become more difficult to remove as the turf grows through the holes.

How to Repair Your Damaged Turf?

Pushing the pulled up turf back into place can be a lesson in futility as the raccoons or skunks will come back again and again until the food source is exhausted and your lawn damage is extensive. From my experience, they will keep returning for about a week or so. Once they are done digging, you can start the repair process. This generally means smoothing the area as best as possible and then overseeding. In the more northern areas where cool-season grasses are grown, overseeding can be done until about the second week of October. Keeping the area watered will also help the grass to regrow as well.

Applying an insect control to the areas where the digging is occurring can be done, but these products are not going to eliminate the grubs overnight. The grubs have to ingest the material in order to be controlled and it takes several days if not weeks for this to occur. The better choice is to repair the area this fall and make sure you apply a preventative grub control application next summer.

If you’re fed up with lawn damage from skunks and raccoons, leave the lawn and pest care to the experts. Enter your zip code to find the Spring-Green closest to you.

Active Grubs in June?

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A co-worker, Dave Dawson, sent me a picture of a grub that he found in his brother’s lawn while putting in a French drain.

The grub was buried about three or four inches into the soil. He thought it was amazing to see not one, but five or six grubs, while digging a trench about 2 feet long.
The life cycle of an annual white grub is considered a complete metamorphosis. It starts off as an egg, laid from May through July, depending on the species and location. The eggs hatch into larva or grubs and they feed on basically whatever is in front of their mouth. They will feed on soil, roots and other organic matter. After feeding for 6 to 8 weeks, they will dig themselves down into the soil to avoid the cold water.

Once it warms up again in the spring, they will rise just up into the root zone, continue feeding for a while, but not enough to cause any real damage to the growing grass. Then, the grubs will burrow down into the ground, pupate, and turn into an adult. The adult flies around for 4 to 6 weeks, laying eggs during the summer and then the whole process starts again.

We occasionally get lawn care service calls from customers in the spring saying they have grubs and want us to apply an insect control application. The feeding they do in the spring is very light, so they generally do not eat enough of the insect control product to be controlled. Plus, the grass is growing rapidly in the spring, so any roots that are eaten are quickly replaced.

The grubs Dave found were getting ready to pupate into adults. He did find one that was emerging from the pupal case as an adult as well, but before he could get a picture of it, his daughter decided to control it naturally, by squishing it with a rock.