Take care of your lawn all spring so large brown spots don’t appear in summer. When your lawn is thick and healthy, it can be one of the most appealing parts of your yard, but when it’s damaged by critters and insects, it quickly becomes unattractive.
Even with proper spring lawn care maintenance of aeration, seeding and watering, dead and dying grass patches can occur if you have a pest problem. Other signs that you have critters damaging your grass include wilting blades, bite marks, or tunnels in your yard.
Learning about these various pests can help you identify the right course of action to remove these critters. If you need help identifying what is damaging your lawn, give one of our lawn care experts a call.
Pests That Can Damage Your Grass
1. Beetles/White Lawn Grubs
If you dig into your soil and see an abundance of plump white worm-like creatures, aka grubs, you have a beetle infestation. The white lawn grub is the larvae stage of beetles and causes more damage to your lawn than the adults.
Lawn grubs eat grass roots and inhibit your grass to absorb the water and nutrients it needs to remain healthy. If you notice dead patches that can be rolled back like carpet or feel soft and spongy, check for an overabundance of grubs.
Common havoc-creating beetles include the Bluegrass billbug, June bugs, and the invasive Japanese beetle. In 2020, the European Chafer was detected in Minneapolis for the first time. This beetle looks similar to the Japanese beetle but has a longer larvae stage, meaning it does even more damage to your lawn. The Japanese beetle is not only a pest in grub form, but the adult beetles can decimate your other plants creating skeleton like leaves. They love roses and fruit trees.
A natural way to control the grub population in your yard is to apply nematodes, which are a grub parasite. The other option is to use a pesticide. For the safe practice and correct timing of pesticide use, please contact one of our experts.
We don’t often associate moths with lawn damage, they’re more associated with leaf damage from caterpillars munching on our plants and vegetables. However, there are several moths that lay their eggs in the lawn. If you notice irregular patches of browning turf or your turf is riddled with holes from bird foraging, moth larvae are the likely cause of the damage.
A common pest is the white moth, which produces the sod webworm. The adult is a small light gray moth that you often see fly up when mowing your lawn. The sod webworm is brown or green in color and chews on grass blades and shoots at night. The damage they do grass is swift and extensive.
The armyworm is another common pest. They get their name from the fact that they do battle with your lawn. These caterpillars are gray to yellow and pink and detest sun, whereas the adults are brown moths that gravitate toward light. They eat grass blades and stems and will skeletonize other plant leaves.
The cutworm is another moth larvae that can lay waste to your grass and other plants and seedlings. Cutworms curl their body around a plant’s stem and feeds on it, effectively cutting it at ground level.
The most effective way to eliminate these invasive worms is to use pesticides or apply the natural, soil dwelling bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt-kurstaki.
Voles, not to be confused with moles, are a small rodent similar to a mouse that feeds on the roots of grass and the tubers of trees. They can cause extensive damage to your lawn that is most noticeable once the snow clears. You will see their snake-like tunnels that cause cracks throughout your yard.
Moles are also a common pest in the Twin Cities area, but they don’t feed on your grass. Their damage is the visible mounds and tunneling around your yard.
The way to have mole and vole control are the same, make your yard inhospitable. Voles like dense, heavily vegetated areas so keep your lawn mowed and bushes trimmed to prevent hiding places.
4. Racoons, Skunks, and Birds
Racoons, skunks, and birds don’t damage your yard by killing the grass. They damage your yard by digging it up looking for grubs or worms. Skunk and birds will leave round holes where they’ve inserted their nose or beaks into the soil. Raccoons are particularly nasty, as they will flip over grub invested lawns like carpet to look for the white snack.
Repairing Your Lawn
Your lawn can be recovered after critter damage. First, rake out the loose or dead grass. Then have a Rock Solid lawn care expert aerate and overseed your lawn. To prevent further grub infestations and damage caused by grub-loving critters, water your grass well and have it professionally fertilized. This will help your grass grow deeper, stronger roots that will have a higher tolerance level for grubs.
If you’d like help diagnosing your lawn damage and to learn about treatment options, please give us a call.