NICEVILLE, Fla. — Mole crickets, chinch bugs and spittlebugs are a few insects to watch for in our North Florida lawns.
Even though mole crickets may injure any of the lawn grasses we grow in Florida, bermuda, bahia and centipede are most severely damaged. But just because you have St. Augustinegrass doesn’t mean you can rule out mole crickets.
Even though mole crickets can be active spring through fall, the best time to control them is in June and July in North Florida.
Soap flush is a technique to survey or scout for mole crickets. Simply mix two ounces of liquid dishwashing soap in two gallons of water and apply with a sprinkling can to four square feet of turf in several areas where mole crickets are suspected. If an average of two to four mole crickets appear on the surface within several minutes, then control may be needed.
Chinch bugs only damage St. Augustinegrass. So, if your lawn grass is something other than St. Augustine, you don’t need to worry about this insect.
Chinch bugs like hot weather. As a result, they are most often active during summer through fall, especially if it is dry. They favor open sunny areas of the yard.
Inspect a St. Augustine lawn weekly during late spring, summer and fall. Look for off-color areas that quickly turn yellow and then straw brown. Part the grass at the margin of the yellowed areas and closely examine the soil surface and base of the turf for tiny insects. Immature chinch bugs are pink to red and are about the size of a pinhead. Adults are only 1/5-inch-long and black with white wings.
Spittlebugs favor centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass. The first generation of adult spittlebugs is abundant in June and the peak population is usually in August to early September.
An early sign of spittlebug activity are masses of white, frothy spittle found in the turf. Each piece of spittle contains a single larva. Damage resembles chinch bug injury but usually first appears in shady areas.
Closer inspection reveals discolored individual grass blades with cream colored and pinkish-purple streaks running the length of individual blades. As the population builds, the ¼ inch long adults are abundant. As you walk through or mow an infested area, numerous adult spittlebugs fly for short distances when disturbed. The adults are black with two orange transverse stripes across their wings.
Correct management of a lawn can minimize many pest problems. If a pesticide becomes necessary to control a lawn pest, be sure to follow the product’s label instructions and precautions.
More on lawn insects is found at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ig001.