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CHINCH BUGS

Chinch bugs are easy to recognize, but hard to see. They're about ⅕" long with black bodies and white wings folded across their backs. It takes chinch bugs about four to six weeks to mature. They start out yellow, then soon turn red as they grow. They have a telltale white stripe across their bodies.

Chinch bugs mostly feed on St. Augustine grass but occasionally feed on other types of grasses. The chinch bug sucks out the plant juices through a needle like beak causing internal injury to the grass. During the summer eggs hatch in 10 days and the young develop into adults in about 3 weeks. Signs of chinch bug infestation includes yellowish / brownish patches of turf. Problems are usually noticed first along concrete edges or in areas without adequate moisture receiving full sun. Chinch bugs can be found by parting the grass runners in yellowed areas and observing the soil.

Chinch bugs don't exactly tap you on the shoulder and introduce themselves. You have to look for them. If you don't see them when you get down on your hands and knees in your lawn, try the tin-can method. Cut out both ends of a tin can, making a tube. Push one end of your tube into the ground. Then pour water into the can and keep it filled for 10 minutes. If you have chinch bugs, they'll start floating up to the surface. You may also see chinch-bug nymphs, which range from pink to red and have a white stripe across their middles.

Grass attacked by chinch bugs looks like grass suffering from drought. Along your driveway and sidewalks, your grass blades wilt, turn yellow-brown, then dry out and die.

If you've checked for chinch bugs and are still not sure you have them, call Westfall's at (941) 761-0125 for a professional lawn evaluation.

 

SOD WEB WORMS

Sod web worms are the larval stage of a type of moth and may cause damage to most types of grasses, while Bermuda grass being the most desirable and Bahia grass being the least desirable. The sod webworm is usually greenish with many black spots. While sod webworms are usually not prevalent in enough numbers in Florida before June, the army worms and loopers are usually present during the spring, summer, and fall.  Newly hatched sod webworms cause very little visible damage, but when they become full grown the feeding shows up almost overnight usually causing extensive damage by the time the results are noticeable.  Included in all Westfall's lawn spraying services are the appropriate pesticides for killing webworms during all life stages.

Sod webworm larval damage often is observed as brown patches up to the size of a baseball in the lawn. In some instances, the brown patches are punctured with pencil-sized holes a result of birds searching for the webworm burrows. Feeding damage from sod webworm larvae frequently goes unnoticed during periods of drought. The most severe damage usually occurs in July and August. Larvae chew off leaves and stems just above the crown. As webworm larvae continue to grow and feed, the injured areas enlarge and coalesce into big, brown patches. The economic threshold for sod webworm larvae has been suggested to be 4 to 6 per square foot but can be variable. Areas frequently infested include steep slopes, banks, and other locations that are difficult to water. Another good indicator of fresh sod webworm larval feeding is the presence of moist, fresh, green fecal pellets in the thatch. Damage caused by dogs may be confused with sod webworm damage. Dog urine on a lawn produces a small patch of yellow grass. This patch may turn brown and die later, but the border of the patch will be very green and there will be no signs of grass having been clipped. Sod webworm spots are not bordered by rich, green grass and do not yellow before turning brown.

Sod webworm larvae can be detected by examining the turf for their silken tunnels and associated frass (green fecal pellets). If you suspect you have an infestation, call Westfall's for a free lawn evaluation.


MOLE CRICKETS

Several species of mole crickets are prevalent in Florida, but the most common include the southern and the tawny mole crickets. Both species are believed to have been introduced around 1900 at the seaport of Brunswick, Georgia inside ships from South America. The mole cricket has proliferated due to having few natural predators as well as having millions of acres of edible turf grass.  Signs of infestation include the drying out of the soil near the root zone. Visible tunneling near the soil surface should also be prevalent.  Westfall's deploys a custom blend of insecticides specifically targeted towards the elimination of not only the mole crickets but the eggs too.

Mole crickets are common turfgrass pests. Three species of mole crickets are considered pests in the Southeast United States.: tawny, southern, and short-winged mole crickets.
This insect’s "hands" are uniquely adapted for digging, allowing it to tunnel through the soil. Sod farms, home lawns, golf courses, and pastures can all play host to mole crickets. Any species of turfgrass can be damaged by mole crickets, but they particularly like bahiagrass and bermudagrass.

Mole crickets make tunnels in the ground, severing grass roots and causing the earth to bulge upwards. They also eat the roots and shoots of grass. Mole cricket damage looks like ugly brown patches. Predators such as raccoons and armadillos may further dig up the turf to snack on the crickets

GRUBS

White grubs are actually the larval stage of the June beetle and the masked chafer beetle and feed directly on the roots of turf grass. To test for grubs, use a spade to dig around the edge of the area of grass that is yellowing approx 2 inches deep. Force the spade under the sod and lay it back looking for grubs or damaged roots. Signs of white grubs include the yellowing and off coloration of grass during times of adequate precipitation.  An application of professional strength insecticide is necessary to wipe out the grubs.

Plants affected by grub feeding may suddenly wilt. Grubs can kill small plants and gnaw cavities in root vegetables. Species of white grubs that feed on grass roots cause yellow patches in lawns. In many cases you may be able to lift back dead patches of your lawn like a carpet where grubs have been feeding. Heavy infestations of grubs attract raccoons, skunks, armadillos, opossums, crows, ibis, and other birds, which make holes in the lawn and garden to feed on the grubs.

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USDA APHIS is deeply involved with mitigating invasive pest issues, along with State and local governments. Invasive pests cost the U.S. an estimated $120 billion each year in damages to our environment, agriculture, and native species. The five invasive species described here are a few of the damaging invasive pests of concern to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. You can help detect these pests and take actions to reduce their spread.

The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP), a disease-infected insect, spreads Huanglongbing (HLB or citrus greening disease) throughout citrus producing states. Once a tree is infected with HLB, there is no cure and it will produce green, misshapen and bitter fruit. HLB has already devastated millions of acres of citrus crops throughout the United States and abroad. However, with funding through the Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination (HLB-MAC) group, a public-private collaboration effort led by USDA, USDA is putting up a formidable fight against this pest. We have doubled production of Tamarixia radiata, a wasp that parasitizes the ACP and stops the spread of the disease, trained detector dogs to sniff out trees infected with HLB with 99% accuracy, and helped develop treatments like thermotherapy to heat-treat trees to kill the ACP and restore the viability of the fruit. Consumers can help this fight by not moving citrus plants so ACP and HLB cannot spread.

Two species of Imported Fire Ant were unintentionally introduced into the port of Mobile, Alabama, from South America almost 100 years ago: the black imported fire ant (1918) and the red fire ant (late 1930s). Both probably came in soil used as ballast in cargo ships. These invasive ants commonly move to new, non-infested areas either naturally by spreading colonies or by hitchhiking on agricultural commodities, including baled hay. They feed on the buds and fruits of numerous crop plants, especially corn, soybean, okra and citrus. Hard, mound-shaped nests can get quite large, posing risks to workers and farm equipment, inhibiting field work. They also displace native ant species and reduce food sources for wildlife. Imported fire ants threatens crops in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. You can help reduce their spread by cleaning farm equipment of caked mud and dirt before moving them from property to property.

The Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) is a wood-boring beetle that attacks 12 different types of trees, with maple being a favorite host. Since its discovery in Brooklyn, New York, in 1996, over 130,000 trees have been lost in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and Illinois due to the ALB. USDA and its partners are actively fighting infestations in New York, Massachusetts and Ohio. Once the ALB infests a tree it will die. Signs include, perfectly round 1/4 inch or larger exit holes on the tree trunk and branches, egg sites about the size of a quarter that look like wounds on the bark, a sawdust-like material called frass on the ground or in branch crotches, dead or fallen branches, and also any larva or tunneling holes in cut wood. You can help by looking for and reporting signs of the ALB before it has the chance to destroy trees in other states. And, please burn firewood where you buy it; do not move firewood, you may move ALB or other damaging pests.

One of the world’s most destructive pests is one that is not currently detected in the United States, and we want to keep it that way. The Khapra Beetle is a threat to America’s stored agricultural products, including grains, spices, packaged and dried foods, and animal products. Plants at risk include: wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize, rice, and flour. Known for its “dirty eating” behavior, this tiny beetle only feeds a little on each grain and thus can damage a surprising amount of stored product. Its feeding damage often spoils 30 percent of the product with up to 70 percent damage reported. The beetle can survive without food for long periods, with little moisture, hiding in tiny spaces. Because of its preference for warm climates, it has the most potential to become established in Arizona, California, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. USDA is constantly on the lookout for this beetle, which is detected periodically in commercial cargo and passenger baggage at U.S. ports of entry. Remember to declare all agricultural products when traveling internationally to help keep this beetle out of the U.S.

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