Insects are part of the ecosystem and not all insects are pests. A pest is any animal, insect, or even plant that is destructive and is detrimental to humans or human concerns, including crops, livestock and forestry, among others. Pests attack your lawn leaving you with patchy lawn and wilted, sick, and eventually dead grass.
There are pesticides which are substances that are meant to control pests, including weeds. The term pesticide includes all of the following: herbicide, insecticides nematicide, molluscicide, piscicide, avicide, rodenticide, bactericide, insect repellent, animal repellent, antimicrobial, and fungicide.
Of course you want to make your lawn pest-free to keep it healthy and beautiful but you don’t want to immediately buy and apply pesticide if you see an insect, weed, or fungus in your lawn. To be able to kill pests, pesticide are toxic. Unfortunately, this means it may be harmful to humans, animals, and other beneficial insects the soil too.
That being said, it is important to select the product to use in pest control. You need to choose the one that kills the pests but won’t harm non-targeted organisms, especially your family. So we are now giving you options on how to deal with and protect your lawn from these invasive pests.
The best way to get control and prevent pest invasion from your lawn is proper lawn care maintenance. Proper lawn maintenance includes mowing, watering, and choosing the right grass in a given area. Proper mowing means keeping your grass at a height of between three to four inches or at the recommended height for your variety of turfgrass.
You also need to check your mower blades before cutting your grass. Dull blades will leave an uneven edge which weakens your grass and promotes grass disease. Appropriate watering means watering deeply and less frequently, two to three times per week in the morning, and giving your lawn one to one and a half inches of water per week for your grass to develop a stronger root system.
You also need to be selective with the type of grass you want to grow, and choose a turfgrass that will thrive in your area. Check the type of soil you have in your yard and the amount of sunlight your grass will get to determine if you should have a shaded or sunny grass area.
Other proper lawn care maintenance includes fertilization, dethatching, and core aeration at recommended frequency.
It is also important to keep your yard clean and safe from insects lurking around. Remove any animal waste and trash that can attract ants, flies, or other insects. Also make sure to turn any container in your yard that may store up rain water where mosquitoes can lay and grow eggs.
Beneficial nematodes are nematodes that are endoparasites of insects that attack a wide variety of agricultural pests. It is a biological pest control that targets young lawn grubs. Beneficial nematodes can reduce the populations of cutworms, sod webworms, and the soil inhabiting pests like billbugs and crane fly ands and seeks out and kills over 200 pest insects in the soil.
A one-acre pack of this contains 50 million nematodes. A $20 pack has approximately 5 million which is enough to treat 1,500 square feet of lawn.
Nematodes are living organisms, and need to be kept refrigerated or should be applied as soon as you get them. The application is best after or before it rains, if not, just water your lawn thoroughly before and after application. You can apply during the rain too as nematodes are quite sensitive to the UV in sunlight, and can be killed within a minute or two if exposed to it. They should be applied in morning or evening when soil temperatures are 42°F – 95°F. Anything more than will no longer work.
Sometimes, nematodes come on a wet sponge. You just need to rinse them into cool water. Then use this as a concentrate to water or spray on according to the instructions on the label directions. Make sure to keep your lawn moist for ten days to drive the nematodes down to the ground.
Once applied, the nematodes will seek a host, which is the pests, and will start working in 24 to 48 hours to disintegrate the pest. You will know that it is working once you see dead larvae in the area where it was applied. For prevention, you can apply two to three times a year, such as in late spring, summer, and early fall. For control of existing pests, apply every two weeks until the infestation lessens or goes away.
Milky Spore or milky spore disease is a bacterium applied as a dust. It is a natural pest control that targets grubs such as Japanese beetles. It is recommended to apply milky spores in early summer for best results as the soil must be at least 65 °F.
For application, wear something to protect you and avoid getting the powder on your skin and eyes. Wear a mask to prevent inhaling the powder. You should place one teaspoon of powder every four feet, forming a grid. You can make a DIY dispenser using a coffee can and a four foot long stick. Make 15 holes using a medium size nail at the bottom of the can and mount it on the stick at six inches high. Do not mount it too close to the ground as the grass or the ground might block the holes. You can apply the powder before a rainfall or slightly water the lawn after application so that the powder is absorbed, and enjoy a grub-free lawn after 1-3 years.
Once the milky spore powder is applied and gets down to the ground, you wait for the grubs feeding time. That is why the temperature of the soil is very vital in this process because this is when they are actively feeding. The grubs will then ingest the powder, and as a parasitoids, the bacterial spores or the disease will multiply inside and eventually kill the grubs. Once the infested grub dies, the spores will disperse to the soil spreading the disease. The more grubs there are, the faster the disease will spread.
There are other organic ways to get rid of pests in your lawn like using a homemade garlic or pepper spray insect repellent. As we always say, prevention is done by practicing proper lawn care. You can also just hire a lawn professional to maintain your lawn for you and come home everyday with a healthy and beautiful lawn.