Texas is bug heaven.
With 100,000 types of insects known to exist in the United States, one-third can be found in the Lone Star State. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Texas has more different kinds of insects than any other state.”
With our long, hot summers and 40 or so inches of average rainfall a year, your lawn is the perfect target for certain pests, and even the smallest bugs can be hard to eliminate. Here are some of the worst pests in the Metroplex, and how to get rid of them.
If you live in Dallas, odds are you have swatted a mosquito. Texas A&M estimates there are 85 varieties found in the state, but they’re not all in your backyard. It just seems that way around dawn and dusk, when they’re most active.
The DFW area routinely is at or near the top of the United States’ worst cities for mosquitoes.
There are some measures you can take in your yard to prevent mosquitoes from breeding — namely, emptying any standing water. If you have a pond or other water feature in your yard, use mosquito dunks to kill the larvae before they hatch into blood-sucking adults. You can also add an aeration pump or agitator to keep the water moving. Mosquitoes only lay their eggs in still water.
Next to the mosquito, the fire ant is the most loathed pest in Texas. These little suckers will swarm out of their dirt piles and onto you within seconds — and you won’t know until they start biting. Those ant bites are nasty, and the pain and itching last for days.
They like to dig their nests in the grass, often where the grass meets the driveway or some edging. The quickest way to get rid of these critters, say, if you have people coming over to grill in an hour, is to pour boiling water on the ant pile. This is also ecologically friendly, but it’s not permanent. The fire ants will dig up another mound a few feet away, but the boiling water is a quick fix.
A slower, but more permanent solution is fire ant killer. The bait granule attracts worker ants that take into the mound, killing the queen. There’s also poison dust that kills any ant that touches or eats it.
These are among the grossest pests. If you’ve turned over a bit of your lawn and come across a creature that looks like something out of the movie “Alien,” that’s a grub. They’re the larvae of the June bug and common enough that everybody has a least a few. But they become a problem when you see some parts of your yard turning brown for no apparent reason. Grubbs destroy the roots, so patches of grass will lift. When you find lots of them, it’s time to act. You’ll find grub-specific insecticide at your local garden store.
St. Augustinegrass is one of the most popular varieties of grass in North Texas, and chinch bugs love it. If parts of your lawn look like they are drying out, but are still attached to the ground, try the can test. Cut out both ends of a coffee can, and push it into the ground in the damaged area. Fill it with water. If you have chinch bugs, they will float up within minutes. These critters are about the length of a pinky nail and are black and gray. If you have chinch bugs, ask your local nursery or garden store for the insecticide that specifically treats this problem.
These are the worst pest in the DFW area but keep an eye (and the bug spray) out. North Texas is home to thousands of bugs that bug us.
Are you looking for more ways to improve your lawn and landscape? Check out our Dallas, TX lawn care page for the latest lawn maintenance tips and tricks, as well as professional help.