We have noticed elevated chinch bug activity in NH this summer, especially in the New London area. Any unusual browning surrounded by healthy green grass is suspect and may have chinch bugs. Brown spots may appear as small pockets or larger patches and they will slowly grow in size. If your lawn has unusual browning that just does not look right, please give us a call or e-mail for a free consultation.
Posts Tagged ‘lawn pests’
The Japanese beetle posses a double threat, both as a ravenous adult beetle chewing on ornamental trees and flowers as well as its juvenile stage as a white grub damaging lawns. Given the unpopular disposition of this outdoor pest, it may come as no surprise that many homeowners look to reduce its damage both above and below ground. How can a regular citizen stop sand cherries, crab apples, and roses from being defoliated by this hungry pest? If you listen at night, in the quiet you can almost hear the crunching as the adult Japanese beetle feasts on its favorite plants in your landscape. I almost forgot about the lawn! White Japanese beetle grubs enjoy chewing the roots off your lawn, especially in the spring and fall. A grub population will sever grass roots turning grass brown and attracting skunks and crows that do even more damage. The Japanese beetle is truly double trouble above and below ground to any home owner with a sunny lawn and some plantings.
Effective control measures target the grubs in the ground, reducing them while still small in size with a variety of treatment options from standard to organic in composition. Controlling the larvae or young version of the beetle is not only the most effective means of reducing damage to your lawn and landscape, it is also the least expensive. Treating the adult beetle is difficult because they are strong fliers and enjoy going out to eat. Spraying your plants after the adults emerge with successive treatments will reduce population levels and damage to your foliage. An added benefit of treating your lawn for Japanese beetle grubs is also controlling other pests who can also inflict harm, such as rose chafers. Even the best looking lawn is no match from the younger form of the Japanese beetle and other white grubs.
A quick word on pheromone traps, the classic “bag a bug” solution. These things work well, real well, so well in fact that they call in adults from miles around . . . all to your property. Like a good BBQ, they will come, eat some shrubs, mate, lay eggs in your lawn, and then fall into the trap. If you are determined to use one of these pheromone traps, at least put it in the woods or far away from your lawn and landscape as possible. A better solution is to consider treating your lawn or doing a few spot sprays on susceptible plants as necessary to keep them healthy and with some leaves before fall arrives.
For more information on these services and more provided by Chippers, just call or shoot us an e-mail.
Chinch bugs are small insects that can make your lawn appear as though it’s dry but is actually slowly killing it before your eyes. The adult chinch bug is a small insect that can be seen darting around in the thatch layer or surface of the lawn. The adult is black with a characteristic white diamond on its back while in the young stage, it is bright red and orange; very easy to see if you look close enough.
The chinch bug does damage by piercing the stem of the grass blade and sucking out the juices like a vampire. Unable to restore or keep up with this moisture loss, turf slowly dies and appears as yellowing or brown patches that can coalesce into larger areas.
I have included two pictures taken last week that clearly illustrate chinch bug damage Notice that the picture (seen above) of the more recent damage appears as small brown areas that can easily be mistaken for drought stress or a hot spot in the lawn. The rear lawn (see below) is severely damaged and the front lawn still under attack from chinch bugs overwintering and beginning their reign of terror this spring. The damage appears as razor stubble, for lack of a better analogy, where the grass is still rooted but the tops are dead, leaving only a small piece of the crown and old leaves behind like razor stubble or five o’clock shadow. This lawn will be treated once to knock the chinch bugs back so no further damage occurs. Seeding will be done in the future to restore lost turf.
Left unchecked, chinch bug populations can explode in one season, destroying large portions of your lawn right underneath your weekly mowing schedule. What you think is a dry lawn is really a lawn under attack, perishing from the small, yet determined chinch bug. Since chinch bugs can have two full generations per year in NH or VT, a lawn that becomes infested can quickly succumb in a matter of months, requiring treatment and renovation involving seeding and thatch removal.
If you suspect your lawn does not look right and has unusual browning or coloring, call in a professional before a costly lawn renovation is necessary.
Grubs in your lawn right now and into the fall are likely hidden beneath brown grass. While crows and skunks may alert you to this lawn problem, grubs are growing fat thanks to the hot, dry summer. Grubs destroy the root system (or whatever it is they do!) so it is important to take action against this lawn pest. What is a home owner to do?
Take action this fall before winter arrives. To reduce the grub population, your lawn can be sprayed several times with cedar oil for an organic approach or more traditional products can be applied. One hundred percent control should not be expected since the larger the grub, the harder they are to knock down. Any reduction in the population will be helpful, especially if you have animals digging on a nightly basis. The same method of grub reduction can be employed next spring for additional results. I do not normally endorse wide spread use of preventative action toward insects in general, mostly because in a normal year insects are usually kept in balance. However, this dry, hot year is anything but normal, so added control measures are certainly prudent. The best approach for lawns with a history of insect damage would be to consider a preventative treatment in 2013 which will provide the highest degree of satisfaction.
If your lawn has experienced severe damage, renovations are better done this fall including seeding, topdressing, liming, and fertilizing to help set the stage for 2013. Failure to repair damage this fall means you miss out on warm soil, cool nights, and generally warm days; ideal grass growing weather. An added bonus is the absence of annual weeds and crabgrass which will not interfere with fall seeding results compared to waiting for the spring of 2013 when they will thrive. In general, seeding is best done in the fall because of these important factors.
If you suspect your brown lawn has more than a water issue, give your local turf expert a call and get it checked out before you carve that Halloween pumpkin!
I visited many lawns this past week infested with grubs, chinch bugs, and even ticks. The picture below illustrates classic chinch bug damage with active chinch bugs feeding as adults. The picture to the right is that of an adult chinch bug. The lawn was thatchy and not a current client but certainly needs some help from my program. Left untreated, these adults will have lots of kids and spread to other areas, causing further damage this spring. Recommended treatment for chinch bug is a surface insect control, either organic or traditional in nature to stop the feeding. Aeration and seeding may also be warranted to help restore the turf area for a more pleasant view versus brown thatch. If you suspect insect damage, be sure to contact a local professional for a lawn inspection, not an over the phone lawn quote from a satellite.
Maybe this is the year you have decided to take action and are simply not willing to accept the same old lawn you had in 2011. If this is the year you have decided to act, then I have good news! Your turf can look better, and with the right game plan, will provide enjoyment throughout the summer with visible monthly progress. After all, why suffer through another year when this type of property improvement is generally fairly easy with predicable results? The key to success is to just say yes, seek out professional help and get a game plan. Once spring arrives, everyone gets busy and before long it’s July 4th or later! Don’t let this spring slip away when so much good can be done to enhance your own lawn and property.
Spring is perhaps the most important time of the year to get your lawn on the road to improvement. One big reason is looking into the future; do you want to enjoy the benefits sooner or later? Later would be beginning in the fall, while sooner would be spring. A damaged or thin lawn may require aggressive steps to help reclaim lost grass such as seeding, aerating, overseeding, or even crabgrass suppression to help get the ball rolling. Waiting until fall gives the advantage to the enemy, like crabgrass, annual weeds, or even insects like grubs. An idle lawn will remain just that, the same or worse as the year before without corrective measures. Spring provides ideal grass growing weather due to moderate temperatures and ample moisture. Cool-season grasses flourish in spring time weather like an athlete training for a race. Not only must your lawn do well, it must do great in order to compete for light, water, space, and air in your home or commercial lawn. This is competition pure and simple.
Just doing something will not do the trick. Too much of a good thing can be bad as or worse than doing nothing at all. The key is applying the right ingredients at the right time. Picture in your mind making yeast bread with 5 times as much yeast as the recipe calls for- disaster! Imagine this same concept when caring for a home lawn. Some will put down ½ the required amount while others will easily double or triple the amount required. Regardless of any burning or striping, the end results will be poor! Take the guess work out of the equation and consider a professional to care for your property this season and spend your free time doing something fun instead! This is the year to take action so you can feel good and your lawn will look great as well.
With autumn in full swing, most lawns in NH & VT should be well recovered from what was a record setting summer in terms of high heat. Any lingering damage should be very obvious and can be fixed before winter such as dead patches of crabgrass or ongoing grub activity. September and October are ideal months to improve your grass due to warm soil, ample moisture, and cool days/nights. Fertilizing, liming, aeration, seeding, compost tea, and optional weed reduction are all most effective at this time of the year in NH & VT. Any insect activity should be addressed now as the longer you wait; the more lawn you lose and the more difficult the control becomes as the pests grow larger such as with grubs in the soil.
If your lawn has issues with weeds such as shepherd’s purse, chickweed, or henbit; consider a treatment this fall with products such as Dimension. Use of the aforementioned product this fall will also provide some crabgrass suppression next spring.
Autumn is a great time to improve your soil since it is the supporting mechanism for a healthy lawn. Topdressing with compost, adding sea kelp, or spraying on compost tea rich in humates, fungi, and bacteria are encouraging ways to improve the microbial state of your lawn before winter. Using a high calcium lime is a positive step to not only adjust your soil pH, but provide calcium which turf greatly appreciates by improving the cation exchange within the soil itself. What does that mean? Calcium helps loosen soil up while Magnesium based lime tends to bind it up more. The better the cation exchange, the less your soil will leach nutrients, especially when combined with a healthy microbial environment below ground. Soils high in organic matter have high cation exchange capacities while sandy soils have very low ratings. As you can see, healthy soil is more important to your lawn than you may have imagined.
As always, be sure to recycle your lawn clippings whenever possible and mow high even in the fall to promote deeper root systems. As the leaves begin to fall and accumulate, don’t let them mulch out shaded areas- rake them up or mow them into pieces. Improved sunlight can help those marginal areas which were blocked by a tree canopy or forest edge. Even shade tolerant grass will appreciate a little extra sun in the fall before winter snow arrives.
Midsummer weather can put even a great looking lawn into a slow dive of despair without careful attention. As the heat kicks into high gear, soil temperatures reach their smoking point and crabgrass seeds begin germinating in earnest, popping like corn in a microwave. Limey green crabgrass plants appear virtually overnight exposing vulnerable areas along driveways, patios, walkways, mailboxes among others. Where did they come from? How can they grow so fast? Ah, the games have just begun!
If you have not watered and your lawn is cut short, now is when your thin lawn becomes choked out with crabgrass plants the size of small cars. During hot, humid weather, cool season grasses will stop growing, sitting idle while crabgrass seemingly grows an inch an hour, basking in the searing July heat. A weak or thin lawn, or those lacking a pre-emergent crabgrass barrier, are now at high risk for a crabgrass invasion that will only cease when school reopens. While post-emergent sprays do exist, spraying at this stage is like using a garden hose on a house fire: it’s best just to let nature take its course. Measures should be taken in the fall such as aeration, overseeding, lime, and turf thickening fertilizers to help prepare the lawn for the following spring. A healthy lawn resists this invasion, and although areas may see some crabgrass, it will not be to the point where one could harvest the greenery for salads.
A casual glance toward the interior of your lawn may reveal disturbing patches and blotches of varying sizes and colors ranging from brown to white. How can this be? What went wrong? Like a good CSI episode, it is time for the facts to speak and rule out the guessing. These issues generally fall under environmental stress such as heat, sun scald, or some other non-pathogenic source. Ruling out diseases can be very tricky depending upon the weather, timing, and location of injury. This summer has seen a significant upswing in disease-related damage ranging from pits and scars, to unusual patches. Preventative measures can be taken to help clean up your lawn with either traditional or organic treatments. Insects are perhaps the easiest to detect given their predicable nature and timing during the season. Now is a perfect time to treat for grubs, sod webworm, and chinch bugs using either organic or traditional materials.
Doing some simple things properly for your lawn during the next 6 weeks can reduce unsettling issues arising from disease, insects, and environmental stress. Summer is generally not the best time to spray for difficult to control broadleaf weeds like ground ivy and violets since high heat and low soil moisture content reduce product effectiveness. If you think you have an invasion at your house, get it checked out and maybe there is a solution to either stop the problem or slow the damage. Don’t let your lawn scare the neighborhood children – plan ahead and keep it clean and green!
I was just finishing up some yard work today and noticed some rather large, creamy color, C shaped grubs worms in a few sunny locations. Given the current grub size, they are most difficult to control without some aggressive attention. You have a few choices in May to knock back a grub infestation in your lawn. Dylox is one of a few materials that will address grubs in a large state with generally satisfactory results. There are only a few organic options worth reviewing like concentrated cedar oils, and capsaicin extract blended with other oils. In either case, a repeat treatment can often be necessary given the mode of action, time of year, and size of the grub itself. Trying to use standard Grub-X will not work because the active ingredient is designed for small grubs, not big boys like you see in May in NH or VT.
Another option is not to treat at all and wait until summer to apply a preventative treatment which not only means the ability to use less aggressive products, but in lesser amounts with incredible control percentages approaching 95-99% in total effectiveness. Preventative products are usually required in fewer amounts, are much more effective, and are more environmentally friendly as a result. Grubs and other insects are vulnerable in a smaller state or size. Therefore, it only makes sense that less product and/or active ingredient is required when being proactive versus reactive.
For anyone experiencing grub infestations, look for annual grub control in the June-September time frame for maximum results. The cost of not addressing grub issues in your lawn can mean expensive renovations, especially if you have an open, sunny lawn or a prior history of grub problems. Rose chafers, European chafers, and Japanese beetles all pose a serious threat to your lawn and garden as well as your tree and ornamental shrubs.
There are about eight major types of grubs in NH and VT that cause turf damage, ranging from the classic Japanese beetle to a masked chafer. Grubs will cause lawn damage plus the adults will devour ornamental shrubs and trees in your landscape. The potential loss of your investment makes controlling the young and adult stage of these beetles a sensible decision. Luckily, there are organic and new products available to help control these villains plus many others!
As always, the best defense is a good offense. Healthy turf can withstand root pruning and even minor damage without a pesticide being applied – even an organic one. Proper cultural practices, such as proper irrigation and a high 3” mowing height, also help keep your lawn cooler and less desirable to adult beetles. Overseeding with resistant turf varieties makes the grass taste less desirable, not necessarily to grubs but to their buddies above ground like chinch bugs, sod webworm and such.
New and old research shows that compost tea actually helps grass develop its own immune response to reduce damage from both insect and disease activity. Although not an easy turf treatment, beneficial nematodes provide 100% organic control in the spring or fall. Milky spore disease was developed a long time ago to control only Japanese beetle grubs, not the other seven. Unfortunately, the spores take years to develop due to the cold New England winters. As a result, Milky spore is not recommended by professionals as it simply does not work in NH or VT.
New organic pesticides that are ORMI certified contain capcaisin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. To obtain good results, and because the organic treatments are short-lived, multiple visits are required in the spring and fall to obtain predictable results. Even organic pesticides require extensive licensing and certification in both NH and VT. If you are considering “professional help,” be sure to ask for the company’s NHPC number in NH or license certification in VT before having any treatment done on your property- organic or otherwise! The potential damage inflicted by an application remains substantial, even if the material used is 100% organic, with improper rates, training, and equipment. In today’s economy, everyone with a pickup truck claims he is an organic landscaper but doesn’t have the credentials, insurance, or education to back up the temporary lettering.
For those ‘do-it-yourself’ folks, be careful what you purchase and use this spring. For instance, “Grubex” is another name for Acelypryn, a great new product for controlling grubs and other harmful insects. Unfortunately, if used at the wrong time, your application will not work due to the size and life stage of the pest you may desire to eliminate. This factor underscores the importance of proper training and state certification where turf technicians must learn not only insect but local disease pests.
While the bag you buy at your hardware store may be well labeled for grubs, you may not be applying it at the right time or stage of the pest. Said another way, just because the bag says it controls pests X, Y, and Z does not mean you are going to control them due to the time of year. This type of activity would be the definition of a waste of money, time, and chemical. Without the proper information on the life cycle of the pest you seek to destroy or reduce, applying home products is like shooting in the dark.
In summary, there are lots of ways to help your lawn look great, with the best and least environmental impact being the cultural and day to day upkeep of the turf. Integrating resistant grasses during lawn overseeding/establishment and implementing organic or natural bacterial and friendly fungi are super tools with no harmful side effects. In my opinion, pesticides should only be used as a last resort or when there may be a history of continual damage on a scale that would outweigh the omission of such products. In other words, a $400 treatment outweighs a $5,000 renovation!