Tiny insects like aphids, mealybugs, small caterpillars and beetles, underground wire worms, fire ants, slimy slugs and snails will eagerly feed on lawns that are malnourished and unhealthy. Particularly common to our areas, chinch bugs, grubs, Japanese beetles, army worms and European crane flies can cause a lot of damage to your lawn.
- Chinch Bugs – In August and early September, chinch bugs typically attack thick, sunny turf areas by sucking the juices out of the grass blades and injecting a toxin that loosens grass roots from the soil. They love cool-season grasses and feed at night when grass is cool and moist. If you notice that your grass is turning yellow or reddish-brown in color, and lifts up easily from the soil like a patch of carpet, you most likely have a chinch bug problem.
- Grubs – In June and early July, grubs can invade your lawn and cause brown patches that will become extensive by fall. Grubs, small worm-like insects that resemble caterpillars, live in the soil beneath the grass, so you rarely see them. If your grass looks yellow-brown and scorched, and sod lifts up easily around the scorched patches, you probably have a grub infestation.
- Japanese Beetles – In June, beetles invade and attack, starting with top foliage and moving their way downward. While they don’t actually eat the grass itself, they lay their eggs in the soil, and these eggs turn into white grubs in early to mid-spring. Grubs will definitely eat your grass and its roots leaving patches of brown or dead turf. If you notice signs of chewed-on leaves, plants or fruit in your yard, you may have a problem with Japanese beetles.
- Army Worms – During the fall when temperatures are cool and air is moist, army worms feed at night in your lawn. They resemble caterpillars with a long, dark stripes down each side of their back. These small, harmless looking insects usually invade in large numbers and can eat your grass right down to the soil, leaving you with brown or bare spots in your lawn.
- European Crane Flies – Common to Northwest regions like New Jersey, these insects look like over-sized mosquitoes. They hatch their larvae, called leatherjackets, in the fall, who feed on grass roots throughout the winter. When spring arrives, your lawn will appear weak, unhealthy and damaged with yellow spots or missing turf. If you spot these conditions, check the top three inches of sod from February to mid-May. Shady and wet areas are particularly vulnerable to European crane flies and their larvae.