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Homeowners Lawn Care Water Quality Almanac

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July         Look Before You Treat

Know where the pests are

Lawn Pests

Surface Damage

Insects suck juices from plants and cut or snip grass blades and stems above ground.

  1. Cutworms: Gray-brown-black caterpillars that curl into a C when disturbed. 
  2. Sod Webworms: Young caterpillars that have black heads. Full-grown caterpillars are brown to green, have dark spots, and grow up to 3/4 inch long. 
  3. Chinch Bug: Adults up to 1/4 inch long, black with white wings that have a black triangle on them. 
  4. Bluegrass Billbug: Adults have snouts; can be seen on driveways and sidewalks migrating to the lawn in spring. 

Subsurface damage

Root system is eaten and plant uptake is disrupted or prevented. Damage appears as wilted turf that does not revive when watered. C-shaped cream to white grubs feed on roots of all grasses.

  1. Grubs:
    European Chafer: Damage threshold 5 to 10 grubs per square foot.
    Japanese Beetle: Damage threshold more than 10 grubs per square foot.
    Oriental Beetle: Damage threshold 8 grubs per square foot. 

Cubworms Sod Webworms Chinch Bug Bluegrass Billbug Grubs

Moles, Skunks, and Crows
These nuisance pests feed on grubs, earthworms, and other insects in the soil. Trapping is the best control method. Sample to determine if grubs are the primary problem.

Protect water quality by regular scouting and sampling. Early detection of a problem can prevent extensive damage leading to dead turf and bare areas that can pose the threat of surface runoff pollution, leaching into groundwater, and erosion. Knowing pest populations from sampling and thresholds for control can reduce chemical inputs.
Look Before You Leap Into Control 
Sampling Techniques

Sampling Techniques

Turf for Grubs 

Cut three sides of a  1-square-foot area of turf. Peel back and count grubs.

Sample a few areas approximately 20 yards apart. 

Replace sod and water.

Flotation for Chinch Bugs

Insert coffee can (with both ends removed) at least 1 inch into soil and fill with water.

Insects will float to the surface in approximately 5 minutes.

Irritation for Sod Webworm and Cutworms

Mix 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing detergent with 1 gallon of water and pour over 1 square yard.

Insects will come to the surface in approximately 10 minutes

Flush surface with water.

Other Ways to Reduce Chemical Inputs and Protect Water Quality

  • Scout for pests. The earlier a problem is detected, the more control options will be available.

  • Plant the right grasses. Look for endophyte- enhanced grasses that resist surface-feeding insects.

  • Know the pests life cycle. Insecticides are ineffective when the insects are not active or are too large, such as in the spring.

  • For subsurface-feeding insects the pesticide must be watered in immediately after application before it dries on leaves. For foliar feeders allow material to dry on leaf.

  • Do not apply materials when ground is frozen or saturated to avoid runoff and surface water pollution. To prevent drift and volatilization (which releases pesticide particles into the air) avoid applying materials when temperatures are high or it is windy.

July is a good time for

  • Mowing: If your mower has more than 8 hours of use so far this season, its time to sharpen the blades or reels.

  • Fertilizing: Generally, this can be avoided, but July could be a good time to add natural organic materials.

  • Irrigating: If rainfall has been insufficient, water your lawn deeply (possibly once every five to ten days) to the bottom of the root zone to encourage a deep root system. 


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This page last updated on
November 11, 2000

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