April 14, 2017
Common Springtime Pests
Spring has arrived, and it brings with it warm weather, rainy afternoons and blossoming flowers. Unfortunately, that’s not all it brings. Read More
Fire ant colonies contain workers of different sizes ranging from 1/8″ to 1/4″ in length. They are generally uniform in color and are dark brown to red.
In Florida, fire ants are active all year long. They swarm several times a year between spring and fall.
These ants are attracted to warm, humid environments with annual rainfall of 10” or more. They eat fruits, sugars and syrups as well as other insects and meat. Fire ants also consume grease and other lipids.
The most recognizable sign of a fire ant infestation is the dome shaped mounds they create in the ground and the protective behavior of workers who pour out of disturbed mounds to attack and sting intruders. AVOID THESE MOUNDS and call a professional immediately for treatment.
People, pets and other animals unknowingly disturb their mounds and are quickly covered with stinging ants. Significant illness and deaths have occurred from allergic reactions to their venom.
Chinch bugs are 1/8″ to 1/10″ long. They have black bodies and white, shiny wings which fold on their backs.
In South Florida, chinch bugs are active all year long.
Chinch bugs are piercing sucking insects. They suck the juices out of the turf grass while injecting a toxin that kills the grass, especially St Augustine-type grass lawns. In fact, they are the #1 pest of St. Augustine grass.
Chinch bugs do not pose a threat to the health or safety of human beings but they are one of few lawn insects that will destroy an entire lawn. You give a chinch an inch, it will take your entire lawn.
Grubs are 1/4” to 2″ depending on their age. They are creamy white, C-shaped, with tan heads and six legs.
In Florida, grubs are a year-round problem. Their larvae hatch during the months of May and June.
Grubs are the larval stage of beetles which have laid their eggs in the lawn. Grubs feed on the roots of turf grass, causing extensive damage.
When grubs infest grass, it becomes thin, yellows, and eventually due to the damage to the root systems, the grass will die. The turf may feel soft and spongy in damaged areas. Scattered brown patches in the grass will appear, indicating dead areas with no root system. A grub infestation can quickly eradicate your lawn if left untreated.
Moles are mammals and have rounded bodies about 6” in length. They are covered with soft black or gray fur and have pointed muzzles. Their tiny eyes are sensitive to changes in light level but provide little visual acuity. Moles have short, powerful legs and extremely broad front feet, which are used as shovels and are equipped with enormous digging claws.
Moles are active year-round.
Moles are highly attracted to grubs. Grubs and worms are their main food source. By eliminating grubs from your lawn you can significantly decrease the likelihood of having a mole problem.
Moles burrow through lawns and create molehills, which can kill a lawn. They can also burrow through plant roots, which causes root damage and can sometimes lead to the death of the plant. Moles may also carry fleas, ticks and other pests.
Fall army worms are moth caterpillars. They are 1″-2″ long and about the size of a #2 pencil in width when fully grown. They may be light tan to shades of gray or green. The head is usually shiny black or brown, with a prominent yellow or white inverted Y marking on the front. The body has stripes and many black, round, mole-like structures.
These lawn pests are active spring to fall with activity peaking June through September.
They prefer to feed on foliage and grass but can also attack stems and roots. Females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves and cover the egg sacks with soft, yellow material, which looks and feels furry. When the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the plants and grass close to their hatch area. They are primarily a problem for St. Augustine-type grasses.
Swift movers and voracious eaters, fall army worms can strip a shrub overnight if they are moving in large numbers. Their damage is equally extensive to grass where they will strip the grass blades completely.
Sodweb worms are moth caterpillars. Webworms grow to a length of nearly ¾” and vary in color from pinkish white to yellowish brown with a light to dark brown or black head. They are covered with fine hairs.
Sodweb worms are active during the spring and fall months.
Grasses, plants, golf courses, and ornamental turfs are highly susceptible to sodweb worms. Moths rest in shrubbery during daylight hours and fly over the grass in early evening, depositing eggs on the lawn as they fly.
Brown spots and raggedly chewed grass blades are the first signs of damage. Large areas of grass may be damaged severely and a heavy infestation can destroy a lawn in only a few days.