Insects & Pests
The Southern chinch bug is one of the most damaging lawn insects affecting St. Augustine grass. It is common to see chinch bug activity from March through October though some years activity may occur earlier and end later. Most cases of chinch bugs start from moisture deficient areas within your lawn.
Chinch bug adults are about 1/5″ long, black in colour, and have white wings. Immature chinch bugs (nymphs) are about the size of a pinhead, red in colour, and have a white band across their back. In our area, there may be as many as seven generations of hatching’s per season. There may be several stages of the insects present at once.
Chinch bugs damage St. Augustine grass by feeding on the plant juices along the runners. This causes yellowing followed by death of the affected areas. These areas typically occur near pavement or cement where reflective heat causes premature drying of the turf. If these areas go unnoticed or untreated, they may quickly grow together into large brown dead areas.
Chinch bugs are nothing to ignore. They can leave your lawn devastated and ruin the appearance of your entire landscape. Many times, turf thinning from chinch bugs results not in turf loss, but infiltration of wild grasses and weeds.
Chemical control of chinch bugs is just that – CONTROL. Our goal is to keep populations low enough where damage does not occur.
We recommend using resistant varieties of St. Augustine, such as Floratam, Floralawn, or Floratine. These varieties of St. Augustine make it more difficult for the chinch bugs to complete their life cycle. More resistant strains of chinch bugs are now occurring, making these varieties less effective than they were 10 years ago. This does not mean they will not develop chinch bugs, but are best able to tolerate an infestation.
Proper watering is very important to managing your lawn and lessen chinch bug susceptibility. Over watering leads to excessive growth and thatch build up. Excessive thatch provides a favorable habitat for chinch bugs to reproduce and a tough barrier to provide chemical control in.
A dry lawn creates weak turf and moisture stressed areas, which draw chinch bug activity. If you notice footprints or leaf blades folding with a grayish appearance when walking across your lawn, it is time to water.
At Southern Care Lawns, we take the time necessary to provide a thorough chinch bug application, with the highest quality products available. Chinch bug control with “over the counter” products from local home or hardware stores, is difficult to attain. Please call us for a free evaluation if you notice chinch bug activity. We’re here to help.
Sod webworms are a lawn caterpillar which can affect your lawn. The active period for the sod webworm usually begins in early June through September. Sod webworms are very easy to control and typically do not create long-term damage. Usually after chemical application, the affected area will re-grow in three to four weeks.
Sod webworm eggs are laid by a moth. Many species of lawn moths are seen in June though most are not sod webworm moths. Sod webworm moths do not land on the turf but hover and drop eggs from above. Most commonly, an area starts where turf and shrub beds meet. Moths land on shrubs and drop eggs down onto the turf at the edge of the shrub beds.
Sod webworms feed at night. Areas begin as small fist-sized area that appear as if it has been cut lower than the surrounding grass. Closer examination will show droppings (brown) in the feeding area and chewed edges on the turf blades.
Please call us for treatment if you noticed sod webworm activity.
Army worm are a lawn caterpillar which typically become active at the beginning of June and during our rainy season. Eggs are laid by a specific lawn moth that deposits eggs near the base of the turf blades. Eggs hatch and small caterpillars chew on leaf blades (sod webworms feed at night and army worms feed in the daylight). These areas usually begin close to shrub beds or in crab or carpet grass areas first, then extending into St. Augustine areas. Areas begin small, usually one inch or less in diameter, and as the insects increase in size the areas become much larger. Usually black or brown droppings can be noticed on turf blades or at the crown area at the base. Leaf blades will be chewed and appear with notches taken out of the blade, giving the appearance of windows in the blade. From a distance, areas are shorter than surrounding turf.
Chemical controls are efficient though areas may need to be retreated due to new hatching, usually in October. Life cycles are approximately twelve weeks long. Damaged areas will re-grow quickly.
Grubs are the larval stage of many of the beetles you see in the summer, sometimes clinging to your windows screens. It is not uncommon to come across some grubs in your soil when planting flowers, sodding, or digging in general. When the grub population reaches a threshold of four to six grubs per square foot, this then warrants control measures.
Grubs are generally white fleshy “c” shaped insects with a brown head and a dark rear end. Their control is difficult due to their size, usually about the length and thickness of your little finger. They are difficult to detect as they feed underground devouring turf roots. The result is a lawn, which appears too dry. Many times the damage is extensive enough before symptoms appear and turf loss is probable. Post damage chemical applications will control any remaining grubs and potassium fertilizer applications will help rejuvenate root growth in existing areas.
Mole crickets are a very damaging insect to Florida turf grasses. They are typically most damaging to Bermuda and Bahia grass lawns. Mole crickets can also cause damage to St. Augustine, although St. Augustine typically has a better recuperative potential to tolerate mole cricket damage.
Mole crickets damage by directly feeding on root system or by tunnelling which damages vital root hairs thus causing the roots to dry prematurely and die. Bahia grass is extremely susceptible to severe damage due it’s smaller weak root system.
Mole crickets are attracted to lights at night such as street lights, yard, or porch lights. These lights, in March/April, will draw adult egg laying mole crickets to the area for a brief period where they deposit eggs. These eggs hatch in May/June and nymphal stage mole crickets begin to feed. This is the best time to control them as they are smaller and more susceptible to ingestion and contact of the chemical control product applied. As the summer progresses, mole crickets become large and their body becomes more impervious to chemical absorption.
Millipedes and centipedes are often confused for each other. Millipedes are usually dark colored and have to pairs of legs per body segment. Millipedes are generally slow moving creatures that break down dead plant material. They are beneficial to your garden as they feed on the dead plant material and return lawn fertilising nutrients to the soil. Centipedes are predacious, feeding on many harmful insects that can damage your landscape plants. Millipedes and centipedes can be found hiding in the damp soil under rocks or boards. They are very beneficial to the overall well-being of your lawn and garden.
Armadillos can be a real nuisance to you and your lawn. Armadillos are primarily nocturnal and do the most damage at night while searching for food. Their favourite meals are insects which live within soil. They damage the ground by digging small fist-sized holes in the lawn in search of these prized insect morsels. Armadillo activity may be accentuated if you live near natural areas where they are plentiful and nesting may occur.
It is a common misconception that if you have armadillo damage you have grubs, however this is not true. Grubs are only a portion of their regular diet. It is our policy not to treat for grubs unless they have been solely identified as the source of the armadillo problem or if they are causing your lawn to decline. However, if their activity becomes unbearable to you, for an additional charge, we will apply the appropriate product to gain control.
Damage from deer is more common than you would think especially if you live adjacent to a naturalized area. Typically, hibiscus, indian hawthorn and sheflera are their favourite plants to feed on. However, if these plants are not available, deer have been found to eat almost any landscape plant. Feeding occurs during the night when human activity is minimal. Feeding damage will resemble an intense pruning with uneven edges. Besides the reduction in plant size created by feeding, many plants may be weakened. The weakening occurs when new growth emerges and is quickly eaten off.
Deer feed on many plants and trees commonly found in the yard. They love strawberries, many vegetables, flowers, and the tender tips of young trees. They have been known to dig up a lawn in search of grubs. Keeping them away from your landscape plants can be a frustrating and seemingly hopeless task.
These are several home-remedy and commercial care products available to help reduce deer feeding habits on plants and trees. Many are short lived, and once the deer become accustomed to the door or taste, they may become ineffective. It is best to change products or methods on a
Some of the remedies are:
- Hang a bar of soap in a mesh bag from a tree. Fragrant soaps such as Lifebuoy, Irish Spring, and Dial seem to work the best. Tie the bags to the ends of the branches so that any soap that drips off during a rain or snowstorm will not drip onto the trunk. This can be unsightly and ruin the aesthetic appearance of your landscape.
- Human or dog hair can also be placed in mesh bags or nylons and hung from the tree branches. Human or dog hair is sometimes effective but at the same time can be a little much to accept.
- Moth balls, blood meal, bone meal, or baby powder are other options that may have a short term success in keeping deer out, but these will require continued repeated applications. In addition, these products have an undesirable odor.
- Barriers or roll-up fencing can be placed around the affected plant or plants to directly stop the access of the deer to the plant. This type of control can also be unsightly and ruin the aesthetics of the landscape.
- Repellant’s seem to be the most effective option in controlling your deer problem. Deer repellant sprays are available at most garden centres and nurseries. These are typically applied every three to six weeks on affected plants. It is typically applied more often during the rainy season or when regular maintenance is occurring (via pruning).
Do not dismiss the potential for deer activity in your landscape. If you live near wooded areas you are likely being visited at night by these four legged eating machines.
Pocket gophers are burrowing rodents that get their name from the fur-lined external cheek pouches, or pockets, that they use for carrying food and nesting materials. Mounds of fresh soil are the best sign of gopher presence. One gopher may create several mounds in a day. In non-irrigated areas, mound building is most pronounced during spring or fall when the soil is moist and easy to dig. In irrigated areas such as lawns, flower beds, and gardens, digging conditions are usually optimal year round and mounds can appear at anytime.
Pocket gophers are herbivorous, feeding on a wide variety of vegetation, but generally preferring herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees. Gophers use their sense of smell to locate their food. Most commonly they feed on roots of plants they encounter while digging. However, sometimes they feed aboveground, venturing only a body length or so from their tunnel opening. They are identified by the absence of a dirt mound and a circular band of clipped vegetation around the hole. Gophers will also pull entire plants into their tunnel from below.
Pocket gophers often invade yards and gardens, and feed on many garden crops, ornamental plants, vines, shrubs, and trees. A single gopher moving down a garden row can inflict considerable damage in a very short time. Gophers also gnaw and damage plastic water lines and lawn sprinkler systems. Their tunnels can divert and carry off irrigation water and lead to soil erosion. Mounds on lawns interfere with mowing equipment and ruin the aesthetics of well-kept turf grass. The sooner you detect their presence and take control measures, the better.
We offer our Pest Control Services in the following locations