Bugs love Atlanta. And Atlanta returns that love to some of those bugs such as the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly. But the love doesn’t extend to all insects, especially not the bugs that infest and damage your lawn. Here are the worst pests you’ll find in Atlanta.
Say “fire ants” out loud and watch people grimace. Fire ants are notorious for their nasty bites that itch and linger for days. Since they travel in swarms, you rarely get just one bite. They also dig up mounds of loose soil in your lawn and can be a pain to eradicate. Some people experience anaphylactic shock from the bites, so it’s worth your time and peace of mind to get rid of these critters. You can find both ant dust and ant bait at your local garden store. Both will kill the ants and their queen but can take days to get the job done. If you need to get rid of fire ants immediately, pour boiling water on the mound. The survivors will dig up another mound within hours, but it’s a good temporary fix if you’re entertaining outside.
If you thought June bugs were gross, grubs aren’t going to make you love them anymore. Grubs are the larvae of June bugs, and they look like little white aliens curled up in your lawn. The experts say not to worry if you come across one or two. But if you start finding a lot more, or your grass is looking drought-stressed, it’s time to do something about it. You’ll know you have an infestation when your lawn looks drought-stressed, even though there’s been plenty of moisture. It’s best to apply a grub preventive product in the spring. But you can also find products that target grubs later in the season, during their later stage of development. Read pesticide labels closely to figure out which one is right for your lawn.
You’ll know if you have armyworms. It often starts at the tip of the blades of grass. They become transparent, as the armyworms eat the cells of the grass. From there, patches of grass turn brown, and if left untreated, an armyworm infestation can destroy a lawn, a golf course or an athletic field. Armyworms work so fast that if you even suspect you have them, you should start treating your lawn. Look for a spray insecticide that you can attach to your garden hose to get the most coverage.
Billbugs are a one-two punch because both the larvae and the adult billbug are pests. The adult insects, which are between half an inch and an inch long, chew holes in the blades of grass and lay their eggs. When the larvae hatch, they eat the rest of the grass. You can test for billbugs by pulling up on your grass. If it comes up easily, it could be because billbug larvae have eaten the roots. Adult billbugs are identifiable by their long snouts. You can treat billbug larvae with pesticides or parasitic nematodes. You’ll need a different kind of pesticide to get rid of the adults in the spring and fall. Check with your favorite pest control company or home improvement store for recommended products.
If you see a white froth in your lawn or garden, look for spittlebugs. Also known as froghoppers, spittlebug foam is actually a froth to protect the nymphs from drying out as they feed on your grass. Adult spittlebugs are about a quarter of an inch long, and dark-bodied with orange lines across their wings. They will leave dead yellow spots on your grass. The good news is there are a few pesticides to choose from that will kill these critters. Just like treating armyworms, it’s best to use a hose-end sprayer to administer the pesticide and eliminate this threat from your yard.
If you’re not sure about the cause of your lawn problems, it’s probably best to ask an expert, whether that’s a pest control or lawn care company. You can also send a grass sample and get a diagnosis from the University of Georgia Extension office. If you can’t figure out what pest is causing your problems, you should look to another cause, perhaps a fungus.
Do you have questions about garden care? Please visit our Atlanta, GA page for more information.