Turf can be subjected to numerous stresses on a daily basis ranging from foot traffic, disease, algae and even the common weed. However, unless you’ve been affected by them, people may not know about another common cause for trouble in your lawn. What is it? Turf Pests. Yes, turf pests can be a nuisance to your lawn so we thought we’d put together a list of the most common, explain what they can do to your turf and whether or not you should take action against them.
The pests we’ll be going over in this list are:
- Leatherjackets (Crane Flies)
- Frit Flies
- Chafer Grubs
- Aphids (Green Flies)
So the Earthworm, are they a nuisance? Well, typically speaking, not really. Here’s what affect worms have on your turf:
- Improve soils aeration (O2 in and Carbon Dioxide out)
- Relieve compaction of the soil which results in better water infiltration and drainage
- Produce castings in the turf which can smear when mowed. This can affect the aesthetics of the lawn and can be a perfect base for weeds to germinate
- Enrich the soil
- Decompose thatch
Handy Tip: What to do about the castings? Wait until the castings are bone dry and brush them into the surface as a top dressing.
Our verdict: Worms can cause unsightly castings in your lawn; however the benefits far outweigh the negatives. A friendly little helper that enriches the soil and decomposes thatch is definitely a positive in our eyes. Best to leave worms be!
Leatherjackets are small larvae that are most definitely a nuisance. Here’s what affect leatherjackets can have on your turf:
- Cause the grass seedlings to collapse after being eaten at the soil level which results in the turf turning a yellowish brown colour, with the turf often dying
- Small birds love to eat this turf pest, however this means that small holes may become apparent on your lawn
Handy Tip: A biological control can be purchased in the form of nematodes. These will help regulate leatherjackets in lawns and flowerbeds. It can be watered into the turf or soil.
Our verdict: If you do have an infestation of Leatherjackets then you should take action immediately. The Larvae stage is the most harmful as the seedlings are used as a prominent food source.
Frit Flies are tiny, black, shiny flies that are around 2mm in length. Are they a nuisance? In small populations not so much, however, in larger number they can have an affect on your turf. Here’s what they can do to your turf:
- Larvae stage bore and kill off individual grass stems
- If you have a heavy population entire areas of turf can be destroyed
- Damage to the turf usually consists of patches of seedlings with the areas growing at a slow rate and poorly
Our verdict: The most damaging stage is the larvae stage. If you do have an infestation of Frit Flies, especially in large numbers, you should take action. Probably best to keep an eye out for these!
Chafer Grubs are similar to Leatherjackets in terms of their effect on turf at the larvae stage and due to this they are most definitely a nuisance. Here’s what affect Chafer Grubs can have on your turf:
- Feed on a variety of plant roots and organic matter in the soil
- Large areas of turf can be destroyed due to the larvae feeding on the roots and stems of the turf
- Feed on roots and thatch or turf strands
- Small holes! How? Due to small birds looking for their favourite snack, the Chafer Grub
- The Chafer Beetle emerges after the grub stage has developed
- A good way to investigate whether you have a Chafer Grub infestation is to pull back a corner of the turf. They should be visible in the upper soil layers.
Handy Tip: Signs to look out for are wilting of the turf, browning of the grass and death in odd patches.
Our verdict: Similar to Leatherjackets, the chafer grub can have a detrimental influence on a lawn when in large numbers due to the larvae feeding on the plant roots and leaves.
Ants can be seen as a bit of a nuisance, especially the flying variety and when they may have taken residence in your home, however, in terms of turf they aren’t that bad. Here’s what affect Ants can have on your turf:
- Unsightly volcano shaped mounds of soil at the opening of the nests.
- Due to the ants foraging, it can have a negative affect on seedlings and may cause problems with newly sown turf
- The soil making up and surrounding the volcano shaped mounds of the ants nest can easily become dry which can effect the turf in the surrounding area
- Ants are most active between April and October
Our verdict: Ants aren’t much of a nuisance to your lawn apart from the visually unappealing mounds of soil that build up around the entrance of their nests.
Aphids are tiny insects that are most distinguishable by their green body with two tube-like cornices found on the hind of their body. Here’s what affect Aphids can have on your turf:
- Attack may horticultural crops
- Cause yellowing leaves and mould due to unconsumed honeydew (produced by the Aphid)
- Smaller populations pose less threat to turf
- Death of the turf is quite rare
Our verdict: Small populations of Aphids aren’t much of a nuisance, however, when over populated they can cause leaves to become discoloured and mouldy due to unconsumed honeydew secretion.