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5 Common Pests That May Be Destroying Your Alabama Lawn
5 Common Pests That May Be Destroying Your Alabama Lawn

Bugs are a part of life - especially in the warm heat of South Alabama. We work to keep them out of our homes, but keeping them out of our lawns is harder. After all - that’s where they live, right?

 

There are a few pests in Alabama that dig in and destroy your lush, green grass - and they’re more common than you think. If your lawn is drooping, dry, or even dying, you could have a serious infestation that needs treatment. Read on to learn about 5 common pests that may be destroying your lawn - and what to do about it. 

 

Spittle Bugs

 

When you look at your grass, do you see thin red lines down the middle of the blades? Are there large patches of foam at the base? If so, you may have a spittlebug problem.

 

Spittlebugs are common pests in lawns that have Bermuda or centipede grass. These small insects resemble leafhoppers -- they’re about ⅓ inch long, with tented wings in a V-shape. Those big foamy patches on your grass protect the babies from pesticides and predators until they reach adulthood. That’s when they use their piercing mouths to feed on a range of plants, from grass to ornamental perennials. 

 

Heavy infestations are rare, but they do happen - and they can cause yellow, curling, or dead patches of grass in your lawn. Keep a regular mowing and de-thatching schedule to encourage a healthy lawn. Spittlebugs thrive in wet, humid conditions, so avoid over-watering your grass. If seen, remove spittlebugs by hand or spray them with a powerful stream of water - that foamy coat protects young spittlebugs from pesticides.

 

Mole Crickets

 

Those crickets chirping outside of your window aren’t just keeping you awake - they may be destroying your lawn, too.

 

Mole crickets live underground for most of the year, but they come out in droves during the spring and fall to mate and wreak havoc on Alabama lawns. These noisy pests dig tunnels underneath your grass, destroying the shallow roots. They also eat turf, including the shoots and roots.

 

There are a few ways to tell if you have mole crickets before they damage your yard. Small tunnels on the lawn, patches of dry or dead grass, or a host of predators digging for grubs all indicate a mole cricket infestation. If you still aren’t sure, try pouring soapy dishwater on a 4’ square foot of your lawn. If you have crickets, they should float to the top for air.

 

The problem is that by the time most of their damage can be seen - typically in mid to late summer - mole crickets have retreated underground until the fall, so proactive treatment is essential. A targeted pesticide during late winter - early spring is the best way to treat a mole cricket problem.

 

Fire Ants

 

If you live in South Alabama, you’ve surely felt that intense stinging that comes from a fire ant bite. Though the name comes from their distinctive red color, it’s a pretty fair description of their fiery bite, too.

 

Fire ants aren’t just a nuisance to your family - they can also cause real damage to your yard. Ants don’t eat your grass like other pests, but they amass large colonies on your lawn that can damage the root system and smother healthy grass. If you have several large fire ant beds on your lawn, you can bet they’re disrupting the delicate balance beneath.

 

The best way to combat fire ants is with a targeted pesticide spray over your entire lawn.

 

Chinch Bugs

 

Chinch bugs love to feed on the warm summer grasses in Baldwin County, especially varieties of St. Augustine grass. These tiny lawn-dwellers are only ⅙’ long - smaller than your pinky nail - but they can inflict damage on your lawn.

 

Chinch bugs are multi-taskers. They use their pointed mouths to suck nutrients from your grass while injecting it with poison at the same time. Both the adults and the larvae feed on turf and they’re most active during the mid-summer months. They often cluster together in sunny areas to feed on grass and lay eggs.

 

Chinch bugs wipe out a lawn quickly. If you have a chinch bug infestation, your lawn may turn yellow, then brown, then begin to die in large patches during the summer. Pesticides are the best form of attack against chinch bugs, so be sure to call your exterminator if you think you have an infestation. Regular mowing and dethatching - especially if you have St. Augustine grass - is a good way to protect your lawn from chinch bugs.

 

Grubs

 

If you’ve ever seen a lawn grub, your first response was probably something like “oh, yuck!”.

 

Grubs are the larval form of a variety of scarab beetles like Japanese beetles, June “bugs”, or European chafers. These tiny pests are white, often oozy, and curl into c-shaped balls in the open air. Buried in the soil, they feast on grassroots and organic matter, causing large sections of your lawn to die.

 

A long, cyclical life cycle makes lawn grubs a problem year-round. Around August, beetles emerge from the soil to feed on your plant life and lay eggs. Once the eggs hatch in October, grubs begin feeding on your lawn. They hunker down during the winter but awaken in the spring to feed on your grass and turn into beetles, starting the cycle again.

 

To determine if you have a grub problem, keep an eye on your lawn in the spring. If sections of it don’t turn green, you may have grubs underneath. Lift a section of your turf - if it rolls up like a carpet or the grass doesn’t have roots, you probably have a grub infestation. You may also notice birds, raccoons and armadillos digging in your yard.

 

Grubs are most vulnerable when they’re young, so pesticides work best in late summer or early fall. A professional lawn service company like Krob Landscape can treat your grub problem and use prevention products to keep your lawn grub-free throughout the year.

 

No matter what type of pest is destroying your lawn, the best way to handle it is by contacting a professional. At Krob Landscape, our professional lawn specialists are trained in diagnosing and treating insect damage with the industry’s best pest control products. If you have an Alabama pest wreaking havoc on your lawn, contact us today!




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