July 25, 2012
We appear to be in a hot and dry summer. Plants in the vegetable garden are growing like crazy and many people tell me that their perennials that like hot and dry conditions are doing very well. The lawns are suffering from a lack of rainfall. In some cases the lawns are turning brown. You can blame it on the lack of rain or possibly it is something else that is turning the lawn brown.
I have had several customers come into the store and they have all told me a similar story. They have seen brown patches in the lawn. The patches start small but then the patches get progressively larger. Some people assume that the white grubs are attacking the lawn. Other think it may be from a dog urinating on the lawn. Other people assume that it is the lawn going dormant from lack of water. The one thing that doesn’t occur to them is that it might be an insect that most of them have never heard of before I tell them what the problem really can be.
In a hot and dry summer, the lawn can develop brown spots. The spots may start as a small spot but then the spot gets progressively larger. Eventually the spot spreads across the lawn. If this is happening to your lawn, the problem may be an insect called the chinch bug. This insect feeds on the blades of grass. Once it has almost killed a blade of grass it moves onto another blade of grass. The chinch bug loves the hot and dry weather. It will multiply like crazy and soon you have thousands of these insects destroying your lawn. If you want to find out if it is chinch bugs destroying your lawn, there is a simple test that you can perform that will tell you if the chinch bug is causing problems in your lawn.
You will need a metal coffee can, a hammer and a watering can full of water. You will take the bottom off of the coffee can. I am assuming you have already taken the top off the can. You now have a metal cylinder that is open at the top and bottom. Take the coffee can out to the lawn. Go about 3 to 6 feet away from the edge of the brown spot. Take the can and place it onto the lawn. You will take the coffee can and place it in a vertical position onto the lawn. Using the hammer, tap the can into the lawn until the can is slightly into the ground. Take the watering can and pour water into the can. If after a few minutes you see black and white insects floating to the top of the water, than you have chinch bugs in your lawn. If you do not see any insects, you should check in a few more areas to determine if the chinch bugs are damaging your lawn.
If it turns out to be chinch bugs, you need to treat your lawn with an appropriate insecticide. You should not wait to do this treatment. The longer you wait, the more damage that will occur. Once the chinch bug has damaged your lawn, you generally have to dig up the spot and re-seed the area.
If you suspect that your lawn is dying back, it is best to determine the cause as soon as possible. If it is chinch bug that is damaging your lawn, you need to move quickly to stop the problem.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.