Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

What insects are problems with cool-season lawns in this area?

The most common insect problem of cool-season grasses is the annual white grub. Annual white grubs are the larvae or young of the southern masked chafer beetle. The adult beetles are yellow-brown in color and are active from June through early August. The true white grub can also be a problem in this area, but is seen less often. These grubs are the larvae of the common June beetle and are usually in the soil for 3 years before emerging as adults. The large brown or black beetles are common during late May or early June. They fly against window screens in the evening hours attracted by the artificial lights. The beetles lay their eggs in grassy areas, especially if a lawn is lush and well irrigated.

Damage from both grubs will appear as a thinning and weakening of the lawn in affected areas, when moisture is lacking. These affected patches can easily be lifted as the roots have been eaten and the grass is no longer anchored. The grubs should be visible under the lifted turf by 1 P.M. An increase in bird, mole or skunk activity may also be seen, as grubs are a source of their food.

For information on grub control see "Grubs in lawns." For a listing of several lawn pest control products and timing of their application, see "Pest Management."

Cutworms and sod webworms occasionally also cause lawn problems. They create damage by clipping off the blades of grass near the soil surface. Small patches of injured turf are the first indication of attack. The spots seem to increase in size each day. Look at the turf where healthy and injured areas meet. The worms should be evident along with clipped pieces of grass. Unusual blackbird activity is another indicator of the worms. These worms are active throughout the summer. Mow and thoroughly water the lawn before treatment. Chemical applications will only be effective if they are thoroughly watered in.

Centipedes, millipedes, cicada beetles, and ants are other insects that may be found in your lawn. They are mainly nuisance pests and will not damage the turf.

See also:

University of Missouri Extenion IPM Booklet
          Turgrass and Insects