Chinch bugs and tropical sod webworms are warm-weather threats to the health of your grass, but each can be treated with early detection and chemical application to keep their damage to a minimum. Know what to look for to keep your lawn thriving this summer.
There are certain things homeowners in Florida know to expect every summer, like high temperatures, afternoon thunderstorms . . . and lawn pests. Just when your grass starts to thrive, these insects ramp up their feeding. Two of the biggest culprits, chinch bugs and sod webworms, can have disastrous effects on a lawn if they’re not dealt with quickly and decisively.
Chinch Bugs: Sucking the Life Out of Your Lawn
Chinch bugs are small, but they can quickly wreak havoc, especially on St. Augustine and zoysia grass.
Identifying a Chinch Bug Infestation
Even if you’ve never seen a chinch bug, you probably know them by the patchy lawns they leave behind. As they feed, the grass will turn yellow and then brown. Dying and dead patches of grass will expand as the bugs move on to devour new, healthy grass.
To check for chinch bugs by hand, look closely at the perimeter of the dead patch where brown and green grass meet. If chinch bugs are present, you’ll see orange nymphs or black-and-white adults.
Or, try the tin can method. Remove both ends from an old coffee can and push it 3-4 inches into the ground in an area you suspect is infested. Fill it up three-quarters of the way with water and maintain that level for 5-10 minutes. If you’ve got chinch bugs, they should float to the top.
Chinch Bug Extermination
The most critical step in getting rid of an infestation is early detection. Once you’ve established that your lawn has chinch bugs, you’ll need to bring in the big guns. The best option is usually to have a commercial lawn service apply chemicals; more than one treatment might be necessary.
Increase the effectiveness of a chemical application by incorporating cultural controls like reducing fertilizer use and dethatching your lawn.
Sod Webworms: The Very Hungry Caterpillars
Tropical sod webworms are another summer Florida pest with a familiar fingerprint.
Identifying a Sod Webworm Problem
As with chinch bugs, you may not know what a sod webworm looks like. And while it’s helpful to be able to identify the insect itself, you’ll probably be able to tell if you have an infestation just by examining your lawn.
Tropical sod webworms feed on grass leaves, leaving the turf looking ragged and uneven. Entire sections of grass may be shorter than the rest of the lawn. These sections will be thinner and less green than the surrounding areas. Sod webworms can work fast—many homeowners report damage that appeared almost overnight.
Sod Webworm Eradication
In lawn care, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of chemical treatment. If you don’t currently have sod webworms, protect your lawn by fertilizing, irrigating, and mowing properly to keep your grass healthy, which reduces the risk of webworm damage.
If the sod webworms have already made your grass their home, don’t worry. Find and apply an appropriate pesticide to the affected areas or hire a landscaping company to do it for you. Be sure it’s sod webworms you’re dealing with to avoid applying unnecessary chemicals to your lawn.
Chinch bugs and tropical sod webworms will eat up your landscape, but only if you let them. Keep an eye on the health of your grass, be proactive, and don’t let these tiny insects ruin your beautiful lawn.