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Insect Identification

Insect Identification

There are so many great things about summer, but it’s also prime insect season. Oftentimes, common summer insects will continue to cause problems into the fall months. While flying insects can be a nuisance for your outdoor enjoyment, it’s important to pay special attention to the insects you oftentimes can’t see; they can cause problems for your lawn and headaches for you. This Sod University article consists of the below Lawn Insect Identifier Tool, a video, an infographic, solutions and more. Improve your lawn insect identification skills so that you can come up with a good control strategy before they take over or cause severe damage. 



Clemson University entomologist, Dr. J.C. Chong, is an expert when it comes to understanding every nuance and characteristic of the creatures that crawl in and under lawns. He and his team spend hours evaluating each homeowner’s turfgrass at Clemson University’s Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic in order to determine if damage to the lawn was caused by an insect and if so, what kind. Armed with information, a proper plan for repair can be put into effect. As Dr. Chong will tell you, prevention is the best way to stop damaging insects before they get a foothold.

There are both beneficial and destructive insects present in every lawn. Identifying insects correctly is the key to stopping a problem in your lawn before it begins as it will help you come up with an effective prevention and control strategy. Here is an infographic that lists some of the most damaging species of insects in turfgrass (click to enlarge graphic).

Chinch Bugs
chinch bug Insect Control In Your St Augustine Lawn
Chinch bug

The chinch bug is a pervasive pest found throughout lawns in the southern part of the United States. This insect has a favorite food, St. Augustine grass, which is why chinch bugs are very common in Florida and Texas. St. Augustine grass is one of the most widely used turfgrasses in Florida and Texas along with other southern regions of the United States.

Chinch bugs are tiny and are oftentimes not seen while damage is being done to the lawn. They like to hang around the soil level in the thatch of the grass. Chinch bug damage looks similar to drought damage, so it can be difficult to diagnose a chinch bug problem. Chinch bugs in adult form are about the size of the head of a pen, making them difficult to spot. Check the edges of your lawn near sidewalks and driveways to see if any are present or conduct a float test.Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat chinch bugs. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions. Read How to Manage a Chinch Bug Infestation for more information.

Sod Webworms
Sod Webworm Grass Blade Close Up

Tropical sod webworms are a type of lawn caterpillar which are most common in the late summer and fall. The adult form is a small, lawn moth that is tan in color measuring in at about ¾ to an inch in size. It lays eggs on the blades and in the thatch of grass. Within about a week, small caterpillars hatch and begin to feed on the blades of turfgrass. Damage looks like transparent grass blades as they “skelentonize” grass. Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat sod webworms. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions. Be sure to also take a look at the Sod Webworms in Home Lawns article for more information.

Fall Armyworms
Fall Armyworm On Grass Blade

The fall armyworm is a larger lawn caterpillar than the tropical sod webworm and outbreaks are common in the United States in the late summer to early fall timeframe. Fall armyworms are the larval stage of the fall armyworm moth, which has a wingspan of 30–40 mm. Armyworms in the larval (caterpillar) stage have an inverted “Y” shape on their heads and feed on the blades of grass. They are also in the range of 30–40 mm long. Fall armyworm damage includes small, brown areas of damage throughout the lawn and “skeletonizing” of the grass blades to create a transparent look in the grass. Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat armyworms. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions. Be sure to also take a look at the Invasion of the Fall Armyworms for more information.

White Grubs
Grub Worm Insect Close Up

White grubs, also referred to as grub worms, are the larval stage of a number of different types of scarab beetles like the Japanese beetle, European chafer, masked chafers, June beetles or May beetles. While adults don’t bother turfgrass much, the damage to lawns comes while in the larvae form underground. White grubs feed on the roots of grass. While most common from the spring to fall months, the worst lawn damage usually shows in late summer and early fall. Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat white grubs. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions. Be sure to also take a look at the What is a Grub Worm and How to Control Them article for more information.

Hunting Billbugs
Hunting Billbug Insect

The hunting billbug is a type of weevil with a long, crooked snout. Often noticeable on the blades of grass or on sidewalks near a lawn, hunting billbugs are especially fond of zoysia and bermuda grass lawns. Billbugs feed on the blades, often leaving in their paths patches of browning and dying grass. Read more about billbugs in What is a Billbug and How to Control Them and check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat them. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions.

Spittlebugs
Spittlebug close up insect control

Found predominantly in centipedegrass, spittlebugs are small, winged insects that are black or dark brown in color with a bright red abdomen when their wings are lifted and two obvious red stripes across their backs. The spittlebug nymph hatches and begins sucking the juices out of the grass. Telltale signs are a frothy substance down in the thatch level that the bugs typically live in, or a purple or white stripe running along the grass blade. Walking through a lawn infected with spittlebug adults is quite obvious as the bugs will fly to another section of lawn as you walk through the area. Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to treat spittlebugs or learn more hereBe sure to read the product labels for a full set of application instructions.

Mole Crickets
Mole Cricket Insect

Mole crickets are found throughout the southern United States and are not hard to see if they happen to be above the surface of the soil. Measuring over an inch in length, mole crickets are distinct from other cricket types as they live underground most of the time and use their “hands” to dig through the soil. This digging leaves small, raised areas in the landscape. The damage from mole crickets comes from severing grass roots as they tunnel underground. Check out the below insecticide products that are labeled to mole crickets. Read the product labels for a full set of application instructions. Be sure to also take a look at the What is a Mole Cricket and How to Control Them article for more information.

Insects can be difficult to find unless you know exactly what you are looking for.  So, if you suspect there might be an insect invasion in your lawn, one simple way to find out is to use a soap-flush. Mix four to five tablespoons of dish detergent with two gallons of water and then pour on a four to six sq. ft. area of the lawn. Insects will come to the surface over the course of the next five minutes. If you see them in large numbers, you need to treat with an insecticide.

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