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Common Florida Yard Pests

Insects are a year-round issue in Florida. The best method of insect control in your Florida lawn is prevention through regular lawn treatments.


Chinch Bug

The southern chinch bug is a major source of damage in South Florida lawns. It is an important pest of St. Augustinegrass and can often be found in drought stressed areas, near driveways or sidewalks. Chinch bugs suck fluids from the grass causing yellowing, browning and dead spots. Affected patches of grass tend to get larger as chinch bugs spread through the grass in groups.

Check for chinch bugs by parting the grass near yellowed areas. Look at the soil and base of the grass for black, winged insects. You may need to look in more than one location.

Another method is by cutting off both ends of a metal coffee can. Push it 2-3 inches into the soil in the green or yellow areas, not the dead areas. Slowly fill the can with water and count the number of chinch bugs that float to the top within five minutes. Keep the water level above the grass during this period. Again, you may need to repeat this in more than one area.

Tropical Sod Web Worm

The sod web worm is the most damaging caterpillar. They usually feed at night and remain in a curled position during the day, which makes them difficult to identify. Serious damage can occur overnight and usually becomes visible June through August.

To look for sod web worms, part the grass in the affected areas and inspect the soil surface. Look for chewed leaves, webs and larvae. If you use a flashlight at night, you may see the caterpillars feeding on the grass.

The drenching method also may reveal tropical sod web worms. Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap in 2 gallons of water. Pour it onto 1 square yard of damaged grass. Observe for five minutes to see what emerges. This may need to be repeated in three or four areas.

Southern Mole Cricket

Southern Mole crickets feed on the roots of the grass below ground leaving patches of dry grass. Their tunneling below the surface also pushes up small mounds of dirt. This activity reduces turf density and creates patches of bare soil.

Use a drenching method to detect southern mole crickets. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap in 1 gallon of water and pour it onto 4 square feet near the damage. If present, insects will crawl to the surface.

Fall Armyworm

Armyworms feed on the roots of grass, quickly damaging your lawn. Damage appears in the form of large, irregular brown patches. If you think you have Fall Armyworms, pull back a square of grass. If it rolls off easily, you may have an infestation.

Use a drenching method to detect armyworms. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap in 1 gallon of water and pour it onto 4 square feet near the damage. If present, insects will crawl to the surface.

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