How to deal with spring lawn pests

Is your lawn infested with pests?

Your lawn can sustain a lot of damage throughout the year from various sources: be it the weather, lawn diseases, or animals. Significant damage in the springtime can also be caused by lawn pests like Leatherjackets and Chafer Grubs. These are larvae that prey on the roots of your lawn and can cause major damage.

Luckily, our lawn care experts are here to tell you everything you need to know about these critters, and how best to deal with them.

Where does the damage come from?

The damage caused by lawn pests like Chafer Grubs and Leatherjackets comes from a combination of two sources. The first is the insects themselves, which feed on the grass roots, weakening them significantly. This makes it easier to pull up the grass in large chunks and brings on the second key form of damage through wildlife.

This secondary form of damage is just as destructive and occurs when birds, badgers, foxes, and other small mammals rip up the already weakened lawn surface in search of the protein-rich Leatherjacket and Chafer Grub larvae to eat.

What are the signs of an infestation?

If you’re unsure if your lawn is filled with Leatherjackets or Chafer Grubs, there are some tell-tale signs are to look for.

Thankfully, the good thing about Chafer Grubs and Leatherjackets is that they are easy to spot due to their impact. So, if you see a larger number of birds pecking at the ground, coupled with poor grass growth, the appearance of straw-coloured patches, and the ability to pull up the lawn surface, this is probably a sign of an infestation. Of these, the ability to pull up patches of the lawn is usually the most obvious and comes as a result of little or no root growth to allow for the grass to remain anchored.

How do I deal with an infestation?

Control of a Chafer Grub or Leatherjacket infestation is best achieved through the application of Nematodes. These provide the perfect biological treatment to a lawn pest problem, guaranteed to stop the insects from feeding on the roots of the grass within three days of application and kill off remaining larvae within 10-14 days. The Nematodes then continue their lifecycle before re-entering the soil, seeking out more pests, with the existing control continuing naturally.

When do I apply Nematodes?

When using Nematodes to control a Chafer Grub or Leatherjacket infestation, timing is crucial. The preferred period for the application of Nematodes is late summer and early autumn, as the larvae are at their earliest stage of development, and thus, more vulnerable. While spring treatments are less effective and at certain times is not recommended, should a spring treatment become necessary, be advised to apply a double-strength application of Nematodes. This is because the leatherjackets and/or Chafer Grubs will be in a more advanced stage of development – making them more difficult to control.

About Nematodes

Be advised that the biggest challenge for Nematode application into the turf is for the Nematodes to penetrate any thatch layer and reach the soil where the Chafer Grubs and Leatherjackets are found. As a result, good lawn care maintenance is necessary to keep this layer to a minimum.

Nematodes are contact-acting and move in water, so there must be plentiful moisture in the ground for a minimum of two weeks after application. So, on top of your regular lawn maintenance – additional watering may be necessary. The ground temperature is also critical as Nematodes will only remain active in a soil temperature above 10ºC. The best way to make sure you’re using Nematodes properly when applying them yourself is to always refer to the instructions on the pack.

Alternatively, find your nearest TruGreen lawncare business today to have your lawn assessed and treated by one of our lawn care experts.

To watch our Nematode treatment being applied to a Leatherjacket infestation, check out this video by Richard from Rich Lawns and TruGreen Milton Keynes.

To rid your lawn of pests once and for all, and give yourself a strong and healthy lawn this spring, think TruGreen professional lawn care.

Written by Tom Page, Digital Content Writer