Pests and lawn care

In the turf industry, a pest is a generic term given to weeds, insects and diseases, alike. For now, I’m going to make it simpler by terming pests as insect invaders.

Most lawn pests lay their eggs in the spring. Hereby, they give their young most of the spring, all of the summer and into autumn, the chance to thrive on a host (your lawn). Your lawn is full of highly nutritious food to make them grow strong and lay their eggs in the next season so that the next generation can be spawned. The problem is that your lawn is the pests feeding ground. Moreover, in great numbers, they will decimate a lawn in a few days.

If you do find pests it is imperative that you take action as soon as possible. Remember, pests see your lawn as a breeding ground.
The attached PDF shows a chart of the most common pests (insects), the stage in life they are most aggressive towards a lawn, what signs to look for and what treatment can be used.

Identify pests in your lawn

A simple test to initially identify a potential problem is to get a watering can full of water and mix in some washing detergent. Make sure it is mixed in; and don’t put the washing detergent in first. YOU DO NOT WANT IT TO FROTH! Pour the soapy water over several sections of your lawn area with each area covering about one square metre. Make sure that each area gets a good drenching- about a litre per square metre. The mix will seep into the soil and acts as an irritant to just about every bug in the upper soil profile. Any bug in that area will quickly surface and can then be identified. If you have 10+ bugs of any description in that square metre area, you may have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

Most common pests

Armyworm

There are three common types of Armyworm found in southern Australia- common, southern and inland. The moth (above) lays its eggs in batches which hatch within three weeks depending on climatic conditions.

The young larvae don’t do much damage but, as they grow, they can become voracious feeders and, in numbers, will become destructive to lawns. After several more weeks, they bury themselves underground where they pupate. After four to six weeks, they metamorphose into moths and fly away.

When in a feeding frenzy, they will gather in numbers and chew the leaf blade above the crown. In full sun, the lawn will almost always recover. In full shade, due to the restriction of the proper process of photosynthesis, the lawn will most likely die off in patches or altogether.

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