Don’t Allow Your Manchester Area Lawn to Be a Bug’s Next Meal

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worm on a blade of grass

The dog days of summer are upon us! Time for late-night family get-togethers and daytime water activities. Don’t let surface lawn insects ruin your outdoor fun. Here in the Manchester, New Hampshire area, insects such as billbugs, chinch bugs, and sod webworms are out looking for their next meal.

Your friends at Alliance Landscaping don’t want their next meal to be your grass, so we’ve outlined the three most common lawn surface insects, how to identify them and what to do next.

Chinch Bugs

If your lawn looks like it’s suffering from excessive drought and you’ve been irrigating it properly, you may want to check for chinch bugs. These little lawn menaces come in like the plague and leave your lawn looking like a dried-up war zone. This is because chinch bugs stab the blades of your grass with their razor-sharp beaks and sip out the juices. Doing this cuts off your grass’s water supply. They also release a toxin that causes your grass blades to become discolored. Eventually, your grass dies, leaving you thinking it is suffering from excessive drought.

Chinch Bug Identification and Lawn Damage

At approximately 1/6 of an inch long, chinch bugs are so tiny that you will probably see the damage they cause before you see them. Adult chinch bugs are black with white wings that, when folded, have a black dot in the center. They live in your thatch just above the soil. Therefore, the best way to look for them is to inspect your lawn’s yellow or brown spots for these tiny creatures. You may have to dig through the thatch a bit. Then, count how many you find. If you discover more than 15 in two minutes, you need chinch bug control.

Prevent Chinch Bugs From Destroying Your Manchester Area Lawn 

Strong, healthy lawns are less likely to fall victim to chinch bug damage, so investing in a good lawn maintenance program that includes proper fertilization and watering can help. Mow your lawn no more than one-third of the blade down. Cutting more than that weakens your grass and makes it more prone to surface insect infestations. Lastly, having aeration performed on your lawn annually can help decrease the amount of thatch your grass forms. 

Alliance Landscaping offers a 7-step lawn care program that can help give your grass the fertilization needed to remain strong and resistant to chinch bugs. If thatch becomes a problem, we offer an aeration service that will bring new life back into your lawn. Both of these methods are lawn services that can help prevent these tiny vermin from destroying your yard. 

Billbugs

Like the chinch bug, billbugs feed on the roots of your grass blades. But it is the young larvae, not the adults, who do this. They also eat the stems and leaves, creating even more damage. They, too, live under the thatch on your grass.

Billbug Identification and Lawn Damage

The larvae of billbugs are cream-colored and c-shaped. You can distinguish them from other lawn insects because they have no legs. Like chinch bugs, you probably won’t see them unless you dig for them. They spend their winters living in the thatch of your lawn and emerge when the temperatures reach 65 degrees. The damage they inflict is a lot like and can be confused with grub damage. You may see dead brown patches and irregularly shaped bare areas on the soil. To truly diagnose billbug infestations, pull the dead stems of the affected turf upward. If the stalks break off easily or the stems are hollowed out, billbugs are the cause. 

Billbug Prevention

Billbugs are the result of poor lawn maintenance. The best way to fight these lawn pests is to aerate, overseed, and fertilize your lawn, making it healthy and strong. Investing in a lawn care program, such as the one with Alliance, and annually aerating and overseeding your grass will go a long way in preventing billbugs and other lawn pests. 

Sod Webworms

Have you noticed small, tan-colored moths flying around your Manchester area lawn? Is the top portion of your grass blades missing? If yes, you probably are experiencing the wrath of the sod webworm. While the adults you see flying around are harmless, they lay eggs that bury into your soil.

Sod Webworm Identification and Damage

The adult sod webworm is approximately 1/12 to 3/4 inch in length and grey colored. The sod webworm larvae (caterpillars) are gray to tan with small dark spots on the body and brown heads. They are born with a fierce appetite, tunnel within your thatch, and devour the blades of your lawn within just a few weeks. Damage caused by sod webworms first appears as small, brown patches of closely clipped grass. Eventually, these patches come together to form larger patches of brown grass.

Sod Webworm Prevention

Like the other two, the best way to prevent an infestation of sod webworms is through proper care and maintenance of your lawn. All three thrive within your thatch, so the second step is to keep this layer of lawn debris under control through annual aeration and dethatching.

Aphids

Like scale insects, aphids also create honeydew. They, too, use their piercing mouths to suck the sap out of your trees. There are many species of aphids in New Hampshire. Many species are green, but they can be almost any color. They can become a huge pest quickly due to their rapid reproduction rate. Like scale insects, the honeydew they produce not only attracts other flies, wasps, and ants, the substance itself can cause the plant to wilt, yellow, or die. Some aphids carry viruses that also cause plant disease.

How Do I Know If I Have an Aphid Infestation?

The first sign of an aphid infestation is leaves curling up, turning brown, and eventually dying off. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves because aphids love to hide there. Other symptoms that your trees have an aphid infestation include:

  • White cast skins on plant surfaces known as honeydew. Honeydew may also be present on nearby cars, furniture, driveways, and patios.
  • Black sooty mold on the branches and leaves. This is the fungal growth caused by honeydew.
  • Distorted or deformed flowers and fruit. This is caused by feeding aphids.
  • An increased amount of ant, fly, or wasp activity as they are attracted to the sugar in the honeydew

Treatment and Prevention of New Hampshire Aphids

Small numbers of colonies can be crushed by hand or removed by pruning. A large infestation may need to be treated with insecticides. But before handling this yourself, be sure to call in a tree and shrub professional such as Alliance Landscaping because not all insecticide treatments work the same on New Hampshire trees and shrubs.

Dormant oil is also an effective method for preventing aphids; therefore including a comprehensive tree and shrub care program in your routine can help keep insects such as aphids and scale at bay.

Invest in Lawn Care and Surface Insect Control With Alliance Landscaping

Noticing a pattern here? To truly help prevent your grass from being taken over by surface lawn insects, invest in proper fertilization and a lawn maintenance plan. Alliance Landscaping’s 7-step lawn care program includes the appropriate amounts of fertilizer, weed control, and grub control to help prevent these nasty insects from destroying your lawn.

We also provide aeration services, and most importantly, surface insect control. Our surface insect control program targets all three pests listed above. Call us at 1-603-704-4230or visit our website to learn more now.

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