With the warm weather of Spring comes the re-emergence of greenery, sunshine, and unfortunately, unwanted insects and pests. You may not realize that you are dealing with an insect problem because a lot of the time they manage to stay hidden, either under your turf or in between blades of grass. Below you will find a list of common lawn problems, and the pest who may be to blame.
1. Brown/Yellow and Dry/Dead Spots
- Leatherjackets: The larvae of the Crane Fly, leatherjackets feed on the roots and leaves of your grass in the Spring. If the turf pulls up easily (like lifting a rug), they may be the cause.
- Chafer & June Beetle grubs: The larvae of European Chafers and June Beetles prefer only the fibrous roots of your lawn. This causes the grass blades to turn brown and die. Again, keep an eye out for turf that pulls up easily.
- Black Cutworms: The larvae of the Dark Sword-Grass Moth, Black Cutworms eat the leaves of your grass, but they are also known to cut grass blades without actually eating them, making them especially irritating.
- Sod Webworms: These pests eat the tender top part of your grass blades. This leaves sections of your grass looking thinner and shorter than the rest. Significant lawn damage from Sod Webworms can look like drought stress.
- Animal Urine: Although not a pest, Fido may be the one leaving patches in your lawn. Animal urine can burn your grass, leaving spots all around your yard. This is a tough one, but training your pet to “go” in a specific area in the yard, or watering the area they choose afterward is your best bet.
2. Turf Dug Up / Disturbed
- Grubs: When your turf is being dug up from the surface, it’s a pretty good sign that there are grubs below the surface that local wildlife would like to eat. You may notice raccoons, skunks, and bird spending more time in your lawn.
- Moles: These furry little guys are almost cute, but when they tear up your lawn in search of worms, you may think differently. They burrow underground, but when they surface they leave a significant hole and a mound of disturbed dirt. Their burrowing can also destroy grass roots, further damaging your lawn.
- Ants: Signs of ant activity will be fairly obvious in your lawn. Although the ants themselves don’t harm your turf, the ant hills that they build can become large in size and smother your grass.
- Black Cutworms: Black Cutworms leave small holes in your turf, usually surrounded by a small circle of brown grass.
3. Sunken / Wilted / Thin Patches
- Chinch Bug: These black and white insects suck the stems of your grass, leaving them dead and dry, and possibly affecting large patches of your lawn at a time. Large areas affected by chinch bugs may appear sunken in.
- Sod Webworm: As previously mentioned, these worms eat the tips of your grass, which can leave you with patches that are thinned out or short.
If you are experiencing problems in your lawn, but you don’t see any of the aforementioned pests, it’s possible that a less invasive cause is at fault. High temperatures and drought conditions cause stress on your lawn. When these conditions are present, your lawn protects itself by going into dormancy. In dormancy your lawn appears yellow / brown and dry, and you may think that it’s dead. The same thing happens in the winter when the turf is covered by snow, so don’t fret! Your lawn will likely bounce back once the temperature decreases or the dry spell ends. If you have patches of bent grass in your lawn, you may notice them turning yellow first when drought stress occurs. This is natural as they are less resistant to drought conditions, meaning that they may turn yellow first while the rest of your lawn still looks normal.
Learn more about lawn damaging insects and how to treat them in our other article Everything you Need to Know About Lawn Damaging Insects.
If you are still having a hard time determining which pest is to blame for your lawn damage, our Hometurf experts would be more than happy to help. Give us a call at 1.888.791.8873 to discuss how we can nurse your lawn back to health!