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Pests

Pests

We can help identify if you need our assistance. All of the recommendations to this point in the book have been designed to make your lawn healthy enough to resist pests naturally. Each practice you follow will reduce the amount of pesticides that might be necessary as a last resort.

Before resorting to pesticide use, be sure the problem is not simply a function of poor soil conditions, tree roots, bad drainage, foot traffic shade or other causes that can be corrected in other ways.

Basic Principles:

When you've determined that pesticides are required, you still can significantly reduce their environmental impact by following these basic rules:

1. Accurately identify the weed, insect, or disease condition. If in doubt, make a sketch or take a sample to show your garden store salesperson or county extension office.

2. Purchase the right product for the problem you've identified. Avoid "all purpose" products that contain ingredients your lawn and the environment do not need.

3. Use only commercially packaged branded products. By law, all commercial pesticides have to be tested and EPA registered.

4. Use only the amounts specified in the directions. Exceeding label amounts in an attempt to increase your success hurts your lawn and the environment, wastes money, and is against the law.

5. Target the applications only to the areas that require them.

6. Keep notes on when and where problems recur, so that preventive measures can be applied at the ideal time, and only where needed.

Identifying Pests:

The presence of weeds is obvious, and the varieties are easily identified. Insects and animals, on the other hand, require more careful observation and identification. The following is a list of common pests and their observable symptoms:

Armyworms

Armyworms have plump segmented bodies that range from ¾ to 1 ½ inches. Their color is dull and varies from greenish – gray to brown. A yellowish – white mid-strip runs the length of its back and ends in an inverted "v" on the head. Three light-colored longitudinal stripes run along the length of each side. The Armyworm had three pairs of prominent legs and additional prolegs or unjointed projections.

The adult moth is dull brown and had a wing span of nearly 1 ½ inches. Eggs are laid on grass, shrubs and other low-growing plants. Larvae hatch in about a week and start eating immediately. Thousand of Armyworms may be produced within small areas. Damage first occurs in bright, warm sunlight. As the name implies, Armyworms move in "hordes" destroying most vegetation in their path. Attacks by Armyworms leaves the turf ragged and bare in a very short time.

Armyworms are unpredictable. One year they may go unnoticed, while the following year they might do extensive damage. However, when they do appear it is usually in great numbers.

Japanese Beetle

The beetles appear in June and are abundant during July and August. They feed on the fruit, blossoms, and foliage of fruit trees, shade trees, and ornamentals. The beetles are about ½ inch long with metallic green bodies, coppery-brown wing covers, and 6 small patches of white hairs along the sides and back of the body. The Japanese beetle has a complete generation each year and spends about 10 months of the year in the soil as a grub.

The adult beetles start emerging from the soil during the last week of June and increases in numbers until they reach their peak in July. Emergence drops off sharply about mid-August, but a few beetles may still be around through September.

The female beetles deposit their eggs in moist soil. The eggs need ample moisture to promote hatching. Dry soil conditions during July and early August are not attractive to the females for egg deposition and hinder hatching of the eggs. Eggs normnewally hatch in about 10 days.

The tiny grubs start feeding on humus immediately. As they increase in size, they move close to the soil surface and start feeding on grass roots. They grow rapidly and will be about 1 inch long by late September. Most injury occurs during the fall and early spring as the mature grubs feed near the surface. The Japanese beetle grub can be distinguished from other grubs by the arrangement of hairs on the raster.

When the soil temperature starts to drop in the fall, they move down 6 to 12 inches in the soil where they over winter. In April, they move back up to the root zone and continue feeding. In late May and June, they change to the pupal stage and start emerging as adult beetles in late June.

Symptoms of grass damaged by grubs are dead, brown patches which can usually be rolled back like a carpet. The roots are severed by the grubs and there is nothing to anchor the turf to the soil. Such areas are often spongy when walked on. Damaged areas may be noticeable anytime from Spring until the grass browns off for Winter.

Those aren't 'Dragon Flies' … They're Crane Flies!

Yuck… what is that big bug? Well, it's not a dragon fly or a mosquito, it's a Crane Fly.

Crane Flies can either lay their eggs in water or in the soil. The females tend to find areas for their eggs near wet or moist areas, such as mud, wet moss, or under dead leaves. The female will place her abdomen just below the water's surface and the eggs sink to the bottom. Other females will place their abdomens right below the surface of the soil to lay their eggs.

From an egg form they become larvae (worm-like) that can be brownish, grayish, or even cream colored and their length varies from ½" to 3" inches. During the larvae stage Crane Flies are also known as "leatherjackets". The larvae stage is where the Crane Fly does most of its damage by eating on the roots and crowns of turfgrass. The damage will become noticeable during March and April. It can also be damaging to one's lawn if the larvae are present, because the moles and skunks will tear up a lawn looking to eat the larvae.

Next is the pupae stage what is also known as the "resting period". This is when the larvae hatch from the "leatherjackets" and transform into the Crane Fly. This resting period occurs during the winter months so come Spring, the Crane Fly is out and flying again.

The adult Crane Fly abdomen is about 2 ½" inches long and the wing span is about 3" inches wide. The adults' main purpose is to mate and lay eggs. The adults only live a few days and the females will lay their eggs within 3 to 17 days. The adults are basically harmless; they don't eat, bite or sting. The adults are essentially just a huge nuisance.

If you would like to add this protective service to your lawn service treatments, please contact our office today.

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