How to Get Rid of Lawn Insects
Before you try to get rid of lawn insects, be aware that it is impossible to have an insect-free lawn. You actually don't want an insect-free lawn.
The majority of the insects in your lawn are beneficial and harmless. You only need to be concerned with the small handful that can do damage.
There are four ways to get rid of lawn insects. These include Biological Controls, Botanical Pesticides, Insecticidal Soaps, and Chemical Controls.
1. Biological Controls
Biological control of insects means that you are fighting one living organism with another. They may be more expensive and take more time to work than chemical controls, but they are safer for your lawn and family.
Beneficial nematodes are microorganisms that are natural predators of some common insect pests. The nematodes attack the larvae of pests such as white grubs, cutworms, and sod webworms. Purchased nematodes are mixed with water, applied to a damp lawn, and left to do what they do naturally.
BT, or bacillus thuringiensis, is a bacterium that kills white grubs, sod webworms, army worms, and cutworms. When you purchase this product, refrigerate it until you are ready to use it---usually up to 10 days. Mix it with water and apply the mixture to the lawn with a sprayer. It requires frequent applications.
Endophytic fungi are naturally occurring fungi that live within some grasses. As the fungi live and grow within the blades and leaves, they produce natural repellents for pests such as chinch bugs, billbugs, and sod worms. Endophytic fungi are only available in grass seed, so look for the word "endophyte" on the grass seed label.
2. Botanical Pesticides
Botanical pesticides are made from plant material. They are becoming more popular because they are less toxic to people and pets than synthetic pesticides. Yet, they are just as effective in killing insect pests.
The botanical pesticides break down quickly and must come into contact rapidly with the insect. They don't have much effect on soil dwelling pests such as grubs.
Pyrethin is derived from the chrysanthemum plant. It is a very strong botantical pesticide because in addition to killing insect pests, it also kills the good insects as well. Therefore, it should NOT be used to treat the whole lawn. Just spot treat areas overrun with sod worms. This botanical pesticide is toxic to fish, so be careful using it near bodies of water.
Neem is an oil extract, which comes from the tropically grown Neem tree. It is used to treat greenbugs (aphids) and to repel Japanese beetles.
3. Insecticidal Soaps
Insecticidal soaps are made from the salts of fatty acids. They will kill most soft-bodied pests, such as white grubs, chinch bugs, billbugs, and sod webworms.
It is mixed with water and poured on the lawn where pest problems are suspected. Insecticidal soaps are biodegradable and nontoxic to people.
4. Chemical Controls
There are a wide variety of chemical pesticides on the market. While they are effective way to get rid of lawn insects, they also kill the beneficial organisms that live there.
Some insecticides are toxic to people and animals. Be sure to read the label carefully. Keep your kids and dog off the lawn after applying. Leave a warning flag in your lawn to warn others to stay off as well.
The most common insecticides are Diazinon and Carbaryl.
- Diazinon is used for chinch bugs, cutworms, billbugs, white grubs, and sod webworms. This insecticide is often sold under the common brand names Dazzel or Knox Out.
- Carbaryl is used for white grubs and billbugs. This insecticide is often sold under the common brand name Sevin.
If you get tired of trying to get rid of lawn insects or don’t want to be exposed to pesticides, have a local lawn company do it. I like how you can sign up online for a free estimate.
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