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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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