Insects in home lawns that have the ability to bite or sting at your feet as your walk by isn’t the only problem they cause—they can become a major, costly endeavor and possibly damage your entire lawn if not handled soon enough. With that being said, certain insects can cause more damage to your landscape than you originally expected. Sod University’s Insect Identification blog is a helpful guide that educates homeowners on the most common types of insects that can cause the most significant damage.
Zoysia grass, however, is no exception to insect invasions. Some zoysia grasses are bred with certain insect immunity goals while others are capable of forming a strong, dense layer of turf that easily fights abiotic or biotic stressors such as insects.
The great outdoors are full of different kinds of bugs, grubs and worms. Find out which ones commonly plague zoysia lawns so that you know how to fight them off.
Common Insects in Zoysia Grass Lawns
First, it is good to know the types of the most damaging pests to look out for so that you can be prepared ahead of time. The most common (and damaging) insects and pests found in zoysia lawns are fall armyworms, hunting billbugs, chinch bugs, grub worms, sod webworms and mole crickets.
Pictured above from left to right: A fall armyworm, a hunting billbug and a chinch bug.
Pictured above from left to right: A grub worm, a sod webworm and a mole cricket.
Having the ability to identify the kind of insect or grub you are dealing with provides you with insight on which control products to use—especially when you’re dealing with a severe problem. Once you know the name of the insect, you can browse herbicide labels to see which products will treat them. Be sure to read the product labels thoroughly so that you know if the chemical can be applied to your lawn without damaging the grass. Follow the product label’s instructions upon application. It is important to know that there are a few cultural, non-chemical control methods for weed control you can use as well.
Cultural Methods of Insect Control in Zoysia Grass
The first and most important tip for fighting off insects and pests in your zoysia lawn is keeping it healthy with regular maintenance practices. This includes mowing at the right times and at an appropriate height of 0.5–2 inches. Ideal mowing heights for zoysia slightly vary from brand to brand, but generally speaking, a height of 0.5–2 inches is optimal.
Mowing reduces the amount of grass blade for insects to live and nest in. When grass becomes too tall in height, it provides optimal coverage for insects to reside in. They may even lay their eggs here and continue to feed. Keeping the surface of your lawn clean will reduce chances of insect infestation.
Don’t over irrigate your lawn. Most zoysia grass needs about one inch of water per week including rainfall. Not only does overwatering promote disease outbreaks; standing water is a perfect invitation for other pests like mosquitos, termites, cockroaches and other pests. Although these insects won’t severely damage your lawn, the standing water will weaken your lawn so that it can’t fight back against stressors like other harmful pests.
Another helpful tip is to dethatch your lawn. Thatch is a layer of debris below the grass that accumulates over time. It consists of all kinds of natural matter that eventually forms a semi-solid mat. Dethatch your lawn once a year or once every other year to keep the layer from becoming too thick. This is especially prevalent in any finer bladed zoysias like Zeon® Zoysia or InnovationTM Zoysia.
Applying a fertilizer on your lawn may sound odd because it doesn’t directly reduce insect damage—but it does help your grass form a dense, thick layer above the surface of the soil so that insect damage doesn’t greatly impact the lawn. Apply fertilizer regularly to help your zoysia grass stay lush and healthy. Sod University recommends the Lawnifi® Fertilizer Program or Lawnifi Foundation.
Lastly, if you’re a homeowner that’s had a lot of problems with chinch bugs in the past, it may be useful for you to know that EMPIRE® Zoysia is a chinch bug resistant zoysia grass variety. Learn more here.
Chemical Prevention for Insects in Zoysia Grass Lawns
Oftentimes, the same type of insect control product for treatment of currently invading insects can be used for prevention, but at a smaller rate. It’s encouraged to apply a systemic insect control product at a preventive rate—especially if you’ve had problems with insect invasions in the past. Systemic insecticides are absorbed into the plant and circulate through the plant’s tissues. As a result, the chemicals kill the insects feeding on the plants.
Sometimes you can prepare ahead of time by purchasing an insect control product labeled to treat the kind of insect you’ve experienced in the past. On the other hand, if you aren’t sure which kind of insect you might see in the near future, a broad-spectrum insect control product may be your best option. A broad-spectrum insecticide, as its name suggests, will be labeled to control a wide range of common insects.
In either scenario, you will be applying less product for prevention than you will for fighting an invasion off—and less product means less money. This is why we believe it’s better to apply preventatively than it is to apply at a curative rate.
Be sure to read the product labels thoroughly so that you know if the chemical can be applied to your lawn without damaging the grass. Follow the product label’s instructions upon application.
Chemical Treatments for Insects in Zoysia Grass Lawns
After you’ve accurately identified the kind of insect that is causing damage to your lawn, you can begin researching the best insecticide to kill off the insect you’re seeing. Our blog on The Best Insect Killers for Home Lawns suggests a list of some of the best ones available. Here are our a few of our top-recommended products.
- Coverage: One bottle covers 2,500 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient(s): Gamma Cyhalothrin 0.08%.
- Ease of Use: Hooks up to the end of your garden hose for even spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Outdoor general insect control.
- Coverage: 30 lbs. cover between 16,000–21,000 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient: Imidacloprid 0.5%.
- Ease of Use: Requires a drop or broadcast spreader for application.
- Best Used On/For: General outdoor insect control.
Bifen XTS – 1 Quart$52.95
- Coverage: One quart covers between 106,000–458,000 sq. ft.
- Active Ingredient: Bifenthrin 25.1%.
- Ease of Use: Requires tank mixing and spray application.
- Best Used On/For: Pre- and post-construction termite treatments, turf and ornamentals and outdoor perimeter pest control.
When using control products, be sure to read the product labels thoroughly so that you know if the chemical can be applied to your lawn without damaging the grass. Follow the product label’s instructions upon application.