Spring has arrived in New Jersey, and soon our grass will be greening up. It’s that time of year where we have to start preparing our lawns for spring. However, as grass emerges from hibernation, so are lawn pests. These insects can quickly damage and even kill patches of grass and, if left unchecked, can cause permanent lawn damage. The best way to defend your yard from insect damage is to be vigilant and know the signs. Here is a list of the most common lawn pests in New Jersey.
Famous for destroying yards in record time, the grub is the larva of June bugs and Japanese beetles. In the spring, overwintering grubs hatch and feed on the roots of your grass. They mature into adults in the summer when they emerge and feed on the leaves of trees and shrubs. Then they mate and lay more eggs in your lawn, which will hatch in the spring, causing even more damage. Grubs also attract animals that feed on them like moles, raccoons, and skunks that can cause even more damage by digging in your yard. If you are experiencing a grub problem, it is essential to hire a grub control specialist before too much damage is done.
Chinch bugs are impossible to see unless you know what you are looking for. These tiny insects feed on the blades of your grass. They do so by sucking the water and nutrients from the stems with their piercing mouthparts. This causes the grass to turn yellow and die. Initially, damage may resemble drought conditions, but if the area does not green up, then you might have chinch bugs. Damage appears as circular patches of dead or dying grass that seem to get more substantial overnight as the insects feed.
Cutworms are not technically worms but caterpillars of a moth. They live under the soil during the day and feed on plants at night. They are typically green, brown, yellow, or grey, with long stripes down the side. As they feed, they cut off stems of young plants and grass. Cutworms can cause extensive damage to gardens in the spring by clipping down newly planted vegetables.
Sod webworms are another caterpillar that feeds on your grass. First instar larvae can strip blades of grass while later stages cut grass blades down and pull them into their burrows. The early signs of sod webworm damage occur in spring. The feeding activity of the worms removes tops of the grass and leaves behind ugly patches of shorter grass. As they grow, you could see even more significant damage into late July and August.