Complete Lawn Pest Guide for North Florida Lawns: 10 Pests to Prevent from Damaging Your Lawn
Although the word 'pest' is typically used to describe an insect such as chinch bugs or webworms, the term is actually used to describe anything that is unwanted. (Perhaps you remember what you may have called your little sibling growing up?) In this case, a lawn certainly is not improved by being pestered with a lack of one of it's three basic needs) Wondering what pests may be the problem in your lawn? Check out our list of 10 common lawn pests and solutions to get rid of them!
1. Chinch Bugs
Chinch bugs are small pests that can cause a large amount of damage to your lawn. Chinch bugs suck the moisture out of grass blades, then replace that moisture with a poison that kills the grass. Lawns that have been affected by chinch bugs appear to have drought-like symptoms, including yellow, brown, or dead grass. Chinch bugs are most prevalent from late spring to mid-fall and are typically found in St. Augustine lawns, although they are occasionally found in Zoysia yards as well.
• YouTube: How can I tell if Chinch Bugs are in my Gainesville lawn?
• Quick Tip: Why Gainesville Chinch Bugs Aren't a Cinch to Control
• Why are Gainesville Chinch Bugs so dangerous for Gainesville grass?
Crabgrass is an annual summer weed. While it germinates in early spring and completes its life cycle by fall, crabgrass seeds can lay dormant in your soil, waiting for next season to bring soil temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Several different types of crabgrass can be found in Florida.
3. Drought Stress
St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns are the easiest to diagnose drought stress in. Both leaves have a midvein that acts as a “spine” for each individual blade, allowing it to open and close as needed. Healthy, well-watered grass blades will appear almost completely flat and totally open. When grass begins to dry out, the blade will close in half upon itself, to reduce its surface area to the sun and thus conserve water. This will also give the grass a “hazy” look, as the backs of the blades are not as deep a green as the enclosed fronts.
4. Tropical Sod Webworm
Sod webworms are a common nuisance in St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns. Sometimes they're just pesky and can be easily ignored, but often they can destroy a lawn as they multiply. Even minor infestations in poorly managed turfgrass stressed by hot, humid, and rainy weather can cause problems for homeowners and property managers. Because it’s difficult to detect this pest early on, managing sod webworms may present challenges without proactive lawn treatments.
Doveweed is an aggressive summer annual turfgrass weed. Its long leaves resemble St. Augustine grass in appearance, so this weed can grow unnoticed for some time. But doveweed doesn't just invade St. Augustine grass, it also takes hold in Bermuda, hybrid Bermuda, and zoysia grass. Not only can doveweed be an annoyance to people who are trying to grow turfgrass, it can also cause serious contact dermatitis for dogs that come in contact with the weed.
• North Florida Lawn Pest of the Month: Doveweed
• YouTube: Two of the most invasive Gainesville Lawn Weeds: Doveweed and Basketgrass
6. Take-All Root Rot
Take-All Root Rot is a fungal disease that lives in the soil and attacks turf when conditions are favorable. Most commonly, it is found in St. Augustine lawns, however it can also be found in Bermuda and even Zoysia turfgrasses.
The armyworm is the most common cause of damaged turfgrass on golf courses, athletic fields, and home landscapes.The larva of armyworms can cause rapid, significant loss of leaf tissue in turfgrass. They feed primarily on Bermuda and Ryegrasses in our area, but can also move to Zoysia and St. Augustine grass where they swarm.
• North Florida Lawn Pest of the Month: Armyworms
Nutsedge, also called nutgrass, is an aggressive weed that often plagues lawns in the wet seasons like we have been in. There are several different varieties of nutsedge, and they're all perennial weeds in the sedge family that regrow each year and reproduce in a manner that makes them difficult to manage.
9. Brown Patch Fungus
Brown Patch lawn disease is triggered in a consistent time of year as the weather transitions from Summer to Winter or Winter to Summer (transition seasons of spring and fall). Brown Patch will be identified by circular browning patches of lawn which will continue to grow in size from the size of a dinner plate up to a few feet in diameter. Multiple circles of Brown Patch are common on St Augustine lawns infected by the disease.
• YouTube: How To Prevent Brown Patch Fungus in your Gainesville Lawn
• Why are there brown spots in my Gainesville lawn?
10. Broadleaf Weeds
Broadleaf weeds in North Florida lawns are not only a nuisance, but they actually make it more difficult for your grass recovering from winter frost damage to fill back in and recover. Weed control applications with pre-emergent and post-emergent products are a must for North Florida lawns looking to recover from a tough winter. Proper identification of weeds is a must for targeted control with so many different herbicides on the market.
Dealing with pests is often easier said than done. While you may find some success taking a DIY route, you’ll more than likely end up with incomplete pest control and recurring infestations. For best results, we recommend partnering with a professional team like ours here at The Master's Lawn Care with decades of experience and the industry’s leading products and technology, we are equipped to handle outdoor pest infestations of all kinds in North Florida yards.
If you're tired of fighting the battle for St. Augustine pest control or need a Nocatee lawn care program, call our office at (904) 813-LAWN. If you have questions about your Gainesville lawn pest program, please call (352) 378-LAWN or fill out our online form so we can schedule a meeting to discuss how we can help!