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Lawn Pests

Moles In The Lawn

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Moles

Moles can become a terrible nuisance to the homeowner when their beautiful sod is suddenly and quickly torn up by Moles. The Moles will most often dig many tunnels under the lawn and to the surface of the lawn, the latter of which creates the eyesore that we all hate to see.

Moles will mostly prefer living underground and without rising to the surface, they burrow through the soil looking for grubs, worms and other insects to feed on. From a Moles perspective, the soil surface is a very inhospitable place, full of danger like foxes and other predators that want to eat them, and humans which often want to kill them. So it’s only when a lack of this food becomes apparent that Moles will more often tunnel to the surface of the lawn to expand their horizons looking for a greater food supply.

Killing Grubs To Control Moles

There’s an old school of thought which says that by using a grub killer on the lawn, and by killing the grubs, this will force the Moles to move away to find a new food source. The problem with this argument is that Grubs are only one of many food types for Moles, so if there are still plenty of earthworms and other insect below the soil, then Moles will continue where they are. Of course, as we said earlier, if there was in fact a greater percentage of grubs in the soil compared to other food sources for the Mole, then this would only force the mole to the surface of the sod to look for food – creating even greater lawn damage. So this method of control can be dismissed.

Are Moles Really A Problem In Lawns

Let’s take a moment to look at the overall impact of Moles and our lawns, and our own place in the natural world. Moles are simply another piece of the natural world in which we all live, they have many benefits such as aerating soil, removing and controlling grubs and many different lawn pests, they are also a natural food source themselves for other predators like foxes. So they do have a natural belonging to and purpose in the environments in which they and we both live.

Before looking for any type of control for Moles, first we must ask ourselves if it is necessary to control them at all. Moles are extremely mobile by their nature, they never stay in one place too long because their food supply would diminish too quickly. So any visit to any particular lawn will always be short lived before they go their own way again.

The damage to the sod is an obvious concern to many people, it makes the lawn look ugly, and needs to be repaired. Again, we need to ask ourselves… is it really a big price to pay when we consider we are living in a natural world, and all these little things are all vital to the continuation of the health of our environment?

As an example, last week an enormous flock of birds flew over my house and nested in my trees for a while. They made a mess of my drive and my car. It took me 20 minutes to wash the car and hose the drive, and then I forgot all about it, because these birds are just another part of the environment we all share. Alternatively I suppose i could have demanded the entire forest be baited to kill all the birds so I’m never bothered again… make sense? No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.

If Moles Really Do Need To Be Controlled

If Moles really are a big problem in the home lawn and creating an enormous amount of damage, then the property owner may want to look at controlling and killing the Moles. Killing Moles really should be a last resort if the problem remains persistent and highly damaging.

Mole Baits

Mole Baits are one of the most popular ways to kill Moles, and the most popular and effective of these baits are those which are shaped like and have the texture of earthworms. These Mole Baits contain a poison which will slowly kill the Mole after being eaten.

Mole Baits come in many other forms such as pellets and wheat, the only problem is that these are not the natural or preferred food source for Moles, and Moles being such fussy eaters are likely to just pass them by on their way to look for worms and grubs.

Mole Baits should be placed at the opening of the tunnel, and also along the course of the tunnel every 8-12 feet. Use a stick of similar object to pierce the tunnel from the surface, place the bait into the tunnel, and then most importantly… seal the hole again, usually by placing the sod or some soil back over the hole which you made. If the mole sense the tunnel has been disturbed it will flee the area.

Be aware of your State Laws regarding Mole Baits, they are not legal in all States.

Mole Traps

We highly recommend that people think about the cruelty inflicted by devices like these before contemplating their use.

Repairing Lawns From Mole Damage

Repairing from Mole damage is really very straight forward and simple. First, we need to make sure the Moles have indeed moved on, and away from our lawns, so we don’t have to do 2 repairs.

The tunnel opening should be collapsed, which is easily done by just using our shoe or a spade, if an indentation is left then some soil from the property can be used to even out the soil surface. We then re-seed or re-sod the affected area. it’s really that simple, and because the affected areas are so small it really only takes a minute or two with the hose to keep up the water while the new sod repairs and establishes itself. For warm season grasses such as Zoysia, Bermuda or Saint Augustine, no re-sodding is necessary, these grasses will spread over and repair the affected area very quickly in warmer weather.

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Lawn Pests

Army Worms

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Army Worms which infest our lawns are in fact not a worm at all, but are instead the caterpillar of a moth. They are around 1 to 2 inches in length, and their life cycle involves feeding on grass blades and sometimes even the roots and crowns of the lawn during the night and hiding amongst the turf during the day. Army Worms are most noticeable in the Spring, Summer and Fall, however it will be best to try and hunt for them during their two most prominent times of the year when they are thriving, and this will be once in June and then in August.

Turf Grasses Affected By Army Worms

Army Worm infests many different grass types including Fescue, Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Bentgrass, Bermuda Grass and Saint Augustine.

Identification

The first time we may begin thinking we are having an Army Worm problem is usually when we live in an area which is well known for it’s Army Worm infestations and we begin noticing those familiar patches of our beautiful lawns are now looking brown and damaged. Large areas of the lawn will continue in the size of damage which is noticeable until we have to go out onto the lawn on our hands and knees to become a detective and find the cause.

The first method of identification involves looking down into the thatch layer of the lawn and close to the soil during the daylight. Army Worm will cover themselves in a light silk cocoon during the day inside the lawns foliage. This same web like cocoon can also be seen in the dew in the early morning while moisture is still evident on the grass.

Another noticeable trait of Army Worms is their pattern of damage is quite unique, as they usually start at the edge of a lawn and travel in a straight line slowly consuming the lawn as it feeds, and often leaving an appearance of a silk or spider web like substance over the lawn.

The final method of determining Army Worm is to fill a bucket with soapy water which is mixed up with some dishwashing liquid, this soapy water is then poured from the bucket over an area of the lawn suspected of having an active Army Worm infestation. Once the soapy water is poured over the lawn you will notice the Army Worms will come to the surface where they can then be counted. An infestation of over 12 per square foot is considered severe and should be treated immediately.

Treatment

Killing Army Worms will involve buying an appropriate insecticide from the local gardening store and applying it at manufacturers recommendations.

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Lawn Pests

Cutworms

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Cutworms can be a very similar problem to Army Worm, both are caterpillars of a moth, which feed on our lawns leaf, and both leave a trail of destruction that can be devastating for the homeowner or lawn lover. Following the same familiar pattern, Cutworms only feed during the night and burrow under the lawns surface and into the soil during the day. Cutworms are so named because they cut the blade of the grass, often at it’s base, during the feeding process, leaving a trail of cut grass in it’s wake, acting like mini lawn mowers.

Turf Grasses Affected

All lawn types can be affected by Cutworm.

Identification

Cutworms can be identified by having a hairless smooth black / brown color, and by the type of damage they can cause which is very unique, in cutting off stalks of grass. They are most commonly a problem in the Spring.

The moths of the cutworm can often be seen flying at night, and have a gray or blackish color.

Treatment

Killing cutworms involves the application of a suitable insecticide which can be purchased at your local gardening store and applied at manufacturers recommendations.

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Lawn Pests

Ants In The Lawn

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Ants Invading The Home Lawn

Ants can occasionally get out of control in home lawns when they swell to huge numbers with a multitude of nests which can spread through lawns and surrounding pathways. The control of ants in home lawns is relatively straight forward although it may take a little effort over several treatments.

Small infestations are usually nothing to worry about, as ants are just another creature which is an important part of our ecosystem. In small numbers they help to create aeration in the soil underneath turf which aids in it’s overall health, and can also feed on other insects and help break downs other small garden creatures, and return these nutrients into the soil.

Recurring Damage From Ants

The damage caused when we have a severe ant infestation in lawns can aggravate and increase already struggling bare patches of turf and create unsightly ant mounds, but the damage doesn’t always end there. Ants also infest themselves into gaps in garden paths and between paving, which is one of their preferred locations as they are relatively safe and usually go on to create large networks of tunnels and nests. This infestation underneath pathways can create a major problem over time when the ants eventually displace enough sand or soil that the paving begins to collapse and become uneven in many places. So it is a wise measure to deal with ants effectively as soon as they are seen to be getting out of control.

Killing Ants In The Lawn

To begin controlling or killing large infestations of ants around our home, lawn and gardens, we must first understand why they are getting out of control in the first place and begin rectifying these contributing factors as the most important aspect in their long term control.

Ants thrive when they have an adequate supply of food and water, and a welcoming place to set up their nests.

Food and Water

So our first step to a permanent control of ants is to look for their food and water source around the garden or home, this can often be pet foods left outside, pet water bowls, a dripping tap, compost piles with food waste which isn’t breaking down properly and so on. So we need to remove these items or move them to a place where the ants are less likely to get to them. Ants may also be going inside the home to find food scraps and crumbs, so good hygiene inside the house is a must, always wiping benches and sweeping floors.

Poor Lawns and Sandy Conditions

The next thing to consider with ants is they thrive in sandy conditions, which is why they love living underneath paving so much, with it’s adequate supply of clean sand used as a base. This also means that ants love lawns which are already patchy and sandy. These bare patches in lawns are where the ants will set up home first, and then they make the bare patches worse when they begin reaching plague proportions. So a very important step in controlling ants permanently is good lawn health. A lawn in excellent health is highly unlikely to ever be a good host for ants, living between the thatch layer is totally unsuitable for them. So the better our lawns health is and the better it looks, the more uninviting it becomes to ants.

Ant Insecticides

The last line of defense on the list is using insecticides. There are many ant killing treatments for sale at the local store, and the best choice is one which is designed for the ants to take back to the nest to kill other ants with, so ensure you are buying the right product. Insecticide use will also need to continued inside the house if ants come inside to feed on food scraps, a general purpose surface spray is best for this purpose.

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