Lawn Insects

Chinch Bugs
Brown or yellow sunken circular patches appear in the lawn especially in dry weather. Often mistaken for a lack of water. Watering fails to revive lawn. Hot dry conditions are ideal for chinch bugs. Adults over winter in protected areas under trees, bark mulch, flower beds, and leaf litter.

Description: Adult is black with white or brown fore wings and brown legs. 1/5-1/6 inch long. Malodorous when crushed. Nymph is red with a white strip across back or black with white spots. 1/5-1/4 inch long.
Cause: Adults and nymphs feed on juices of stems and leaves. They prefer sunny, warm areas and frequently weaken or stress grass.
Control: Shade lawn with trees or shrubs. Reduce stress by watering. Plant endophytic (insect resistant) perennial ryegrass. Apply surface insecticide.
Fall is a good time to repair damaged areas by overseeding.  Turf King has alternative organic treatments for chinch bugs.

Leatherjackets/ Crane Fly     
During late August to September, many people report being bothered by large numbers of "giant mosquitoes". These are the adult European Crane fly. The native species has always been around, but natural enemies have kept its population in check and it is not seen in nuisance numbers.

The European Crane fly has fewer natural predators and diseases. The cranefly normally associated with maritime climates. Up to now they have been a problem only in B.C. and Nova Scotia. Over the last few years, the European Crane fly has spread each year throughout southern Ontario. It is now a serious pests in some areas.
In the spring & summer many of the larvae (called leatherjackets) can be found in lawns. They have been reported in Ontario only in the last few years but can damage the lawn.

Leatherjackets resemble short worms They are thick-skinned without a distinct head. Although some people may refer to them as "grubs," they are actually maggots. These maggots are light grey to greenish brown in colour with a black back. Cylindrical in shape with a tapering at both ends, the legless bodies grow to about 2.5 centimetres (one inch) in length.

The Crane fly (adult of the species) resembles a large mosquito, but it doesn't bite or sting,  The bodies range in length from 1 ? to 2 ? centimeters with somewhat longer legs. They spend a few sunny hours in the warm bricks or fences to mate and then lay eggs.

Leatherjackets will feed on the turf of golf courses, home lawns and pasture grass. During the day, they feed at or below the grass surface on root hairs, roots and crowns. At night, they feed above ground on crowns, stems and blades. Damage is most visible during the months of April and May. Irregular browning of the turf is the result of the pest having damaged the plant's crowns and eating away at the leaf blades. The larvae are often found after rain when they are washed out onto sidewalks, patios and driveways. Secondary damage may result from birds pecking away at the turf trying to reach the larvae.

April is the time to monitor for leatherjackets. Many report damage in May, but by then most of the damage has been done.

The adult Crane fly first makes its appearance about mid-September after emerging from a pupa stage. Almost immediately afterward eggs are laid, which hatch about 10-15 days later.

Newly hatched leatherjackets are found in the turf in late September or early October. They feed in the fall and grow rapidly. After overwintering, the larvae have tripled or quadrupled their weight by May. They continue to feed on the grass surface until mid-June at which time they move three to five centimeters into the soil. The leatherjackets enter a rest phase during the months of July and August. Turf damage is minimal during the summer.

By late August, the larvae pupate for about 2 weeks when the adult emerges. The pupa casing is left behind leaving a clue to a potential problem.
Adults will migrate to the sides of buildings before beginning the lifecycle all over again.
Control the larvae to prevent damage to the lawn. Treatments can be applied in the fall or in the early spring. The adult is harder to control as it is a flying insect.

More on Grubs     
As of April, 2009 Merit is no longer available for use in the province of Ontario. We generally used the granular Merit- which is less toxic than table salt. Now Nematodes can be used instead.

Life Cycle
The most common grub in this area is the European chafer. Grubs spend the winter in the soil. In the spring, they return to the surface and feed for a short of time before pupating. Hungry skunks & raccoons can damage your lawn in the spring when they lift up the sod looking for grubs. In June, the larva pupate and change into adult beetles. At dusk, the adults fly to trees and shrubs to mate. Eggs laid in the summer soon hatch and baby grubs start munching away. August through October is when the grubs are hungry and do the most damage.

Nematodes are recommended for the following reasons:

1.Nematodes are not harmful to humans, pets, birds, and even earthworms. Nematodes do a reasonable of controlling the target pests- soil insects.
2.Nematodes provide control over the course of the season. Since eggs are only laid once during the season, no more grubs will come once the nematodes have done it job.
3.Nematodes are applied from mid August through early October, when soil temperatures are warm enough. Nematodes will start to control grubs from the time they are hatched.
4.While nematodes may not control 100% of the grubs, any reduction in the number of grubs will reduce damage to the lawn. and will also reduce the likelihood of skunks or raccoons digging up the lawn.
5.If grubs were a problem in your neighbuorhood last year, then there will is the possibility that there will be grubs in your neighbourhood again this year.
6.It is the only alternative at this time.

Sod Webworms     
The adult sod webworm is a small tan or buff coloured moth (1/4 to 3/4") that is commonly seen flitting about the lawn in short zigzag patterns. The moths lay eggs that hatch into larvae in a few days.

The larvae chew grass blade in two just above the ground level and pull the blades into a silken tunnel in the ground to eat them. Sod webworms chew and feed during the night and remain hidden in the daytime. They feed on the tender parts of the grass and as they grow, their appetites increase. Entire plants can be killed and irregular patches of dead grass will appear. The dead patches of grass pull away easily. Look at ground level for silk lined tunnels, chewed grass, and frass (greenish, coarse, sawdust-like particles of excrement).

The larvae reach a mature length of about 3/4". It is a dingy, dull tannish brown but some are occasionally greenish. Frequently they have dark circular spots that are spaced along the sides and back. Stiff hairs protrude from these spots. The head is dark brown and shiny. foupate and turn into the adult stage. The female adult lays eggs in late summer and the larvae develop in the fall.

The larvae overwinter in the tunnels. Adults emerge in May or June, laying eggs. Severe damage generally occurs in the fall as the population builds up. At that time control measures may be needed.

White Grubs     
When is the Best time to Treat for Grubs: Spring, Summer or Fall? Many people are inquiring when they should treat their lawns when they have a grub problem.

Here are the facts.
1.The grubs are hard to kill at any time of the year with the traditional insecticides.
2.The smaller and younger the grub, the easier it is to control them. Less insecticide is needed.
3.The grubs do the most damage August through October when they are feeding and growing. Less damage is done at other times of the year. Control may be advised if skunks & raccoons tear up the lawn looking for them. (If anyone can get a crew of skunks or raccoons that are trained to remove grubs, eat them, and then put the sod back, we'd be happy to hire them)
4.Even if we could destroy all the grubs in your lawn now, this will not prevent the next generation of grubs from attacking your lawn the next season. See the life cycle chart. The grubs in your lawn now (generally are European chafer larva) will pupate in May and turn into adults in June. The adults are flying beetles. They go on mating flights, do what adult beetles do, then the females look for lawns on which to lay their eggs. Because they fly, the females from a lawn 3 doors away may still lay eggs on your lawn. There is no sure way to predict which lawns will have eggs laid on them in the summer.

Options & recommendations
1.If you treat for grubs in the spring, you must realize that another treatment may be necessary in the fall. It won't be the same grubs. As someone said, "It's the kids that are always the problem."
2.If grubs are found in the fall, we recommend treatment in the fall to minimize damage.
3.Repair any damage. Overseed the bare or thin spots. April is a good time. May is still okay as long as the seed receives enough moisture. Fall seeding is the best, Spring is second best.
4.We highly recommend using Nematodes for the treatment of grubs. 
5.In July keep an eye out for the mating flights of the European chafers. They look like small June beetles. This indicates when the eggs will be laid and when the munching will begin.
6.From early to mid August on, keep an eye on the lawn for damage. Call us right away so we can come out and have a look. Treatment with Nematodes is recommended to prevent further damage to the lawn.

Mosquito Tips
Important – You can Reduce the Risk to Your Family!

Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home and neighbourhood by reducing the amount of standing water available for the mosquitoes.

Here are some simple steps to protect you and your family.

Avoid mosquito bites –  Wear long pants and long sleeve shirts.  Tuck the pant into your socks.  Tuck all shirts in completely.

Avoid mosquito bites - Cover the head with a hat or cap. Wear ear covers.

Dark Clothing – Always wear dark colored clothing.  Thick material that the mosquito cannot bite through is recommended.

Protect your children – Apply an insect repellent regularly on all exposed skin.  Use a repellent with the lowest possible chemical concentrate.

Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or similar water holding containers that have accumulated on your property.  Do not overlook containers that have become overgrown by aquatic vegetation.

Pay special attention to discarded tires that may have accumulated on your property.  The used tire is the most common domestic mosquito breeding location in this country.

Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are left outdoors.  Drainage holes that are located on the container sides collect enough water for mosquitoes to breed in.

Clean clogged rain roof gutters on a regular basis, particularly if leaves from the surrounding trees have a tendency to plug up the down drains.  Roof gutters are easily overlooked but can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.

Turn over plastic wading pools when not in use.  A wading pool becomes a mosquito producer if it is not used on a regular basis.

Turn over wheelbarrows and do not allow water to stagnate in birdbaths.  Both provide breeding habitat for mosquitoes.

Do not leave plastic garbage containers open, they will collect rain water and become a breeding area for mosquitoes.

Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish.  Water gardens are fashionable but become major mosquito producers if they are allowed to stagnate.  Clean and chlorinate swimming pools that are not being used.  A swimming pool that is left unattended by a family that goes on vacation for a month can produce enough mosquitoes to result in neighbourhood wide complaints.  Be aware that swimming pool covers do not eliminate the breeding problem as mosquitoes will find their way in and out.

Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.  Mosquitoes will breed in any puddle that exists for more than four days

Common Symptoms of West Nile Virus Infection
- Fever
- Headache
- Body Aches
- Skin Rash
- Swollen Lymph Glands

If the Infection involves the Brain, symptoms may also include:
- Neck stiffness
- Stupor
- Disorientation
- Coma
- Tremors
- Convulsions
- Muscle Weakness
- Paralysis

Anyone bitten by an infected mosquito is at risk for the Virus.  Although the risk of severe infection is, at the moment greater for people who are age 50 or older, or those who have weakened immune systems.  It is important to see a Doctor as soon as possible if symptoms of West Nile Virus Encephalitis appear.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Encephalitis and no protection vaccine has been found.