Insects: A little prevention and scouting can save your lawn

Insects: A little prevention and scouting can save your lawn

Lawns and Shrubs are home to many, many insects. Few of them are harmful, and many are even beneficial.

Healthy grass plants can tolerate some feeding by the harmful insects like grubs and chinch bugs. But when the number of pests reaches a certain level – called a threshold – the quality of your lawn can be hurt. The open spaces the pests create in turf can be ugly, and invaded by weeds.

Most pesticide applications made to home lawns aimed at killing insect pests are either unneeded or ineffective. To make sure that you need a pesticide, you must first “scout” for the pests to see if there are enough of them to justify the treatment. If you do treat, you need to make sure that you apply the right pesticide correctly and at the right time.

For example, as I’ve stated before, treatment for grubs isn’t justified unless there are more than 6- 10 grubs per square foot. Unless someone peels back the sod at several locations and checks to see how many larvae are feeding on grass roots, you won’t know if the pesticide is needed.

In spring, grubs are usually too mature to be controlled by most pesticides effectively. You may still get some control, but it requires the right product and watering it in well.

A better way is to selectively treat certain areas with lower active ingredient insect control products before certain problems pop up.

Imidiclopyrid (merit) is excellent lower active ingredient grub prevention when applied at the right time (summer in most parts) and watered in quickly. It saves the possibility of using a higher active insecticide later on that might not be so nice to the many beneficial insects and worms in your lawn.

If your don’t use Merit for prevention, then scout for grubs in late summer and early fall to determine if treatment is necessary while the grubs are still small enough to control. (If treatment is justified, mid August and September are usually the best times.) Because they feed below-ground, insecticides need to be watered in to get the product in the soil before sunlight has a chance to break down the material. This will make it less effective if it sits for a week, and allow the grubs another free week of rent in your lawn.

Similarly, scout for surface feeders (such as cutworms, sod webworms, chinch bugs and bluegrass billbugs) before treating.

Regardless of the pest, the best way to minimize damage is through prevention:

• Keep turf healthy through proper mowing, watering and fertilizing. Healthy turf will tolerate more pests.

• Plant the right grass for your location. Choose grasses that resist pests, such as endophytic varieties of perennial ryegrass, fine leaf and tall fescues. (Endophytes are beneficial fungi that live on the grass and discourage surface feeders.)

• Scout before you treat. If you use pesticides, treat when the pest is most vulnerable, and follow all directions carefully. To prevent water pollution, never apply pesticides when ground is frozen or saturated.

To prevent drift and volatilization (which
• Releases pesticides into the air), do not apply when temperatures are high or it is windy.

One of the other areas you might take a pro-active approach is around your foundation. Using a low active ingredient insect product like Talstar twice a year around the foundation will really help with the ants and other outdoor/indoor pests.

Talstar controls 75 pests (including termites, fleas, ticks & lawn damaging insects) and can even be used indoors as well as outdoors per the label.

Once again, a little intelligent low rate prevention can sometimes be better than blasting insect problems after they do their damage.

As always, read all insect and weed control labels and follow the label instructions.

For additional resources check


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One response to “Insects: A little prevention and scouting can save your lawn

  1. nice post !

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