Advice from Buck’s Backyard
Have you seen these “suspects” in your backyard?
Insects are the most prolific animals on earth. They make up 70-80 percent of all known kinds of animals. There are over 1 million species found in the United States alone, and new ones being discovered all the time. All that being said, less than one percent is considered a plant pest that affects humans.
In Florida we have a few that can cause major damage to our lawn and landscapes. Today we are going to focus on three bad boys that attack our lawns and cost homeowners millions of dollars every year to repair or replacing sod.
There are several kinds of mole crickets here in Florida. The Tawny, the Southern and short winged mole crickets. Does not really matter to the home owner what kind they are, but that they still can damage your lawn. They emerge in March and depending how far south in Florida you go can go almost the rest of the year. Mole crickets can damage your lawn in various ways. The young (nymphs) and adults feed on the blades and roots of your lawn at night especially after irrigation and rain in the warmer weather. They also tunnel near the surface dislodging the dirt causing the soil to dry out. Tunneling up to 20 feet has been observed in one night. The tunneling and the feeding depending on how severe the infestation is can cause heavy thinning and even bare spots in your lawn. You won’t mistake a mole cricket when you see one. They are an UGLY BUG and can startle you at first sight when you see one.
Sod Web Worms:
The Tropical Sod Web worm is the most damaging caterpillar to our lawns here in Florida. The caterpillars can reach up to ¾-1 inch in length and are gray green with brown spots. They feed at night and during the day they curl up and lay low in the grass. The adults (moth) are about ¾-1 inch in length and are tan in color. You will see them flying around when disturbed and hanging out in shaded areas of the lawn and shrubs. The adults do not cause the damage the caterpillar does by chewing the grass blades. Damage can occur almost overnight. It will sometimes look like somebody ran a lawn mower or weed whip in one spot in the lawn. There dropping (frass) are little round pellets in the bare areas. Depending on the how bad the infestation is will depend on how bad the damage is in the lawn. Infestation can start in June and go well in to summer and even fall.
Just the sound of that makes home owners cringe. These are probably the most destructive insects to our lawns here in Florida and be here year around from the middle of the state all the way to the Keys. They can over winter (hibernate) in the Northern parts of our state just waiting for warm temperatures to arrive and start there carnage of our lawns. The young (nymphs) and the adults feed and live together. They move as a collective or group to different areas of your lawn to feed. They range from 1/20 to 1/5 of an inch in size. They can be found when you pull your grass apart scurrying away from the disturbed area. Another way to find is if you think you have them, take a coffee can cut both ends out of the can. Place the can firmly in an area where the damage ends and the green area starts and fill it with water. If they are present they will float to the top. Damage occurs when the insect sticks there needle like mouth part into the crown of the grass and causes the grass to turn yellow and die. Even after the Chinch bugs have been treated the damage will continue due to how slow there damage takes to show up.
The above insects can be controlled with control being the optimal word here. We will never ever eradicate the insects – just keep them at bay and away from your lawn. A good pest control program is one that is proactive in all control methods — including insecticides, biological and environmental controls, and keeping the customer informed and educated. Our programs are always changing to deter the insects so you can have a beautiful and healthy lawn and landscape.
Buck Moon serves as the Certified Pest Control Operator for Harmony Care. In this role, he supervises field personnel and ensures all operations proceed in a safe and effective manner. He writes regularly on best practices for maintaining a healthy vibrant lawn in his home state of Florida.
Got a question? Just ask one of our experts! Need a free lawn care quote? Just call Harmony Care at (941) 840-1491.