If you have insects feeding on your lawn and causing damage, it can be difficult to know how to control them. For those of you who prefer not to use pesticides to address lawn pests like chinch bugs or white grubs, these cultural management techniques will help you create a healthy environment that outperforms any pressures created by insects.
Sort Out The Surface
Allow the top one inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings when the European Crane Fly is laying their eggs. European Crane Fly eggs require almost a 100% humidity to remain viable, and they are laid very close to the surface of soil. When you see giant mosquitoes flying around in late summer/early fall try to allow the surface of your lawn to dry out and this will dramatically reduce infestation of the European Crane Fly larvae (Leather Jackets).
Know How To Mow
Unless you have a bentgrass lawn, your mowing height should be up at 2” to 2.5”. Mowing too short can result in a small root system. A lawn with a small root system will not be able to tolerate insect feeding as well as a tall healthy lawn.
Also make sure to mow once a week. Rule of thumb is not to remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade. Scalping a lawn by cutting it to short or waiting to long between cuts and then cutting short can set back a lawn for weeks.
Maintain good soil moisture in the summer to help your lawn tolerate chinch bug damage, but avoid over watering. Chinch bug feeding causes the lawn to turn brown, and desicate rapidly. If you have been watering sufficiently and the full sun areas of your lawn are getting browner, call Nutri-Lawn immediately as it is probably due to a chinch bug infestation. It could also be due to a fungal disease. Either way, call Nutri-Lawn to come and take a look and we will diagnose the problem for you for free. Overwatering can leach essential plant nutrients below the root zone, and it can also encourage the establishment of fungal diseases.
Core aerate annually to control thatch and reduce soil compaction. A thick thatch is the perfect environment for many insect pests to thrive, including chinch bugs. By keeping your thatch layer to a minimum you will be discouraging future chinch bug infestations. Core aeration also encourages strong, deep, healthy root growth which is essential in order to create a lawn capable of tolerating root feeding insect pests like White Grubs and Leather jackets.
Seed, Seed, Seed!
Overseed or slitseed with new robust cultivars of turfgrass. We recommend the use turfgrass seed mixes that include entophytic Perennial Ryegrass. Entophytic grass contains beneficial fungi that deter leaf feeding insects like Chinch bugs, Sod webworm, and Cutworm.
Ensure Balanced Fertility
Make sure you give your lawn a balanced diet of nutrients (ie; fertilizers). Feeding your lawn properly will ensure a healthy, robust lawn that can grow new roots and leaves faster than a minor insect infestation can eat them. A healthy lawn will also recover rapidly from any significant insect damage.