It's the time of year when we see bug problems in our lawn areas. Especially common are the small grayish moths which signal an infestation of armyworms. The moths are the end result of the small ( 1/4") larvae which eat grass roots. These little larvae can make a large amount of damage, shown as roundish areas of dry grass that look like the sprinkler system missed the area. If you dig up a small patch of the affected grass you'll likely see lots of small wiggling "worms".
How do we control this ongoing pest ? Many retail insecticides that are labeled for turf insect control will do the job, but here's the tip for success: 3 applications spaced about 10 days apart does the job. Keep an eye on the affected areas for a re-infestation of the bugs after you treat the area. New grass should grow back into the affected areas within a few weeks. Here are 2 management tactics to control turf insects:
1. use razor-sharp mower blades: Clean-cut grass edges have less damage to attract insects.
2. Using a lower-analysis fertilizer will slow the growth of grass blades, and the grass will need less water. Fast growing grass with soft growth will be more attractive to insects than will solidly rooted sturdier grass. A little tough love for your grass will give you a stronger lawn with fewer insects.