Most insect pests of turf can be controlled when damaging populations are found. However, remember the first step to management of lawn pests is prevention. Good cultural practices are essential to prevent insect pests from destroying turf. Use recommended methods of fertilization, watering, mowing, etc., to keep grass healthy and growing vigorously. A healthy lawn can tolerate light insect infestation and damage is masked or overcome by rapid growth of plants. To keep your lawn healthy at all times you can rely on Atlantic Graduate Lawn Care and Pest Control.

The next step to management of lawn pests is early detection. This is the weakest link in pest management programs for lawns as most homeowners will not notice insect infestations until after their damage is observed.

Thatch removal is one means of preventing chinch bug and spittlebug outbreaks. Heavy thatch accumulation provides an ideal environment for these insects. Thatch also interferes with delivery of insecticides to the insects.

Chinch Bugs

Adults are about 1/5 inch long, light in color with small black triangular patches on the wings. The wings are carried folded over the back. The nymphs are from 1/20 to 1/5 inch long and vary in color from a reddish with a white band across the back to black as they near adult size.

The eggs are laid in leaf sheaths or crevices in nodes and other protected places. The young develop into adults in four to six weeks. There are three or four generations a year. The bugs insert their slender beak into the grass and suck the plant juices. Typical injury appears as spreading patches of brown, dead grass. St. Augustine grass is the most seriously injured, but other lawn grasses are also subject to attack. Chinch bug infestations and damage are most often first noticed during hot dry periods in sunny areas of the lawn.

White Grubs

These grubs are plump, C-shaped insects with three pairs of legs. They are whitish with dark areas near the rear. They have a distinct, brown head. The adults are beetles commonly referred to as chafers, May beetles, June beetles, and others.

Adult female beetles lay their eggs in the soil. The grubs hatch and spend most of their life beneath the soil feeding on underground plant parts. Most have rather long life cycles with the grub stages lasting from several months to two or three years. Grub feeding destroys the roots, leaving the tops to wither and die. In heavy infestations roots are pruned off to the extent that turf can be rolled back like a carpet.


This slender, long-legged fly is grey-brown with dark brown leading edges to its wings. It looks like a giant mosquito, but is harmless. It is also known as a daddy longlegs.

The shape of the abdomen distinguishes the sexes: the male’s is square-ended, whereas the female’s is pointed with an ovipositor (egg laying structure).

Craneflies are usually nocturnal and are often attracted to lights. Unfortunately their legs are only weakly attached to their bodies and often break off. The dull brown larvae, known as leatherjackets, are pests. They feed on plant roots, especially grasses, and can seriously damage lawns.

Adults rarely feed. Larvae live in the soil and eat roots. They also emerge at night to chew the bases of plant stems.