20 Lawn Pests and How to Fight Them

20 Lawn Pests and How to Fight Them

Having a perfect lawn is one of those American dreams that just about everyone strives for, even if it carves out a hefty chunk of time from our busy schedules.

While managing all the basics, including watering, mowing, landscaping and fertilizing, is fairly straight forward, there’s one aspect of lawn care that’s less easy to control – the insects and wildlife that make it their home.

These pests are numerous and varied. Underground, your grass could become a meal for white grubs and billbugs. Other insects, including armyworms and fiery skipper caterpillars could attack the stalks of your favorite turf grass. You also have to watch out for the ants, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, snails and slugs that simply live in your lawn and make life difficult for you elsewhere. If all those bugs aren’t enough of a problem, then you also have to deal with the wildlife drawn to your yard by the presence of such tasty treats.

Through it all, though, you know that you want to address these problem pests as safely as possible. With that in mind, you can deal with many of these insects and animals by using OMRI Listed® products, which are listed as compliant for use in organic gardening. You can use these products with confidence, knowing they won’t persist in the environment.

Wondering what pests may be the problem? Check out our list of 20 common lawn pests and solutions to get rid of them!

Lawn Pest No. 1 - ANTS
ants
Also Known As...

Argentine Ants

Carpenter Ants

Crazy Ants

Fire Ants

Little Black Ants

Pavement Ants

Helpful Links

• Guide to Ants

• What is DE?

• How to Clean Up DE

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Ants generally are spotted as they forage through your home and lawn. Some ants, including fire ants, create ant hills that are visible through grass. Carpenter ants infest wood and wood-built objects. Ants don't pose a direct threat to lawns, but are considered a nuisance.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer

Spread Safer® Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer around ant colony entrance areas.

 
Lawn Pest No. 2 - ARMYWORMS
armyworms
Also Known As...

Army Cutworms

Armyworm Moth Larvae

Fall Armyworms

Helpful Links

• Guide to Armyworms

• What is Pyrethrin?

• Create a Wildlife Habitat

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Armyworms are smooth-skinned and about 1 1/2 inches long. Body color varies, but generally is yellow, green, dark brown or black. Stripes run down their side. Armyworms feed on grass plants, creating brown patches that may appear to be drought stress.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 3 - BILLBUGS
billbugs and weevils
Also Known As...

Weevils

Weevil Larvae

Billbug Larvae

Helpful Links

• How to Kill Grubs in Your Lawn

• What are White Grubs

• Why is My Grass Dying?

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Turf is damaged in irregular patches, which makes it easy to pull up. Check these areas for legless, C-shaped grubs about 3/8 of an inch long with red-colored heads.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 4 - Burrowing & Digging Mammals
burrowing animals digging animals
Also Known As...

Armadillos

Cats, Dogs

Chipmunks

Gophers, Groundhogs

Mice, Moles, Rats, Voles

Opossums, Rabbits

Skunks

Helpful Links

• How to Trap Animals in Your Lawn

• What are White Grubs

• Create a Wildlife Habitat

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

A large variety of mammals can create problems with your lawn. Often, these animals excavate large sections of turf in a hunt for grubs. Other problems include the excessive nitrogen in dog urine, which creates “lawn burn.” Moles, chipmunks, gophers or groundhogs are usually responsible for tunneling and mound creation. To determine what kind of wildlife is causing lawn damage, observe the area or set up a game camera.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Humane animal traps

Most mammals can be repelled or relocated using solutions from Havahart.com. Consult VictorPest.com for dealing with mice and rats.

 
Lawn Pest No. 5 - CHAFER GRUBS
masked chafer lawn grubs
Also Known As...

Lawn Grubs

Masked Chafer Larvae

Masked Chafer Grubs

Northern Masked Chafers

White Grubs

Helpful Links

• Get Rid of Lawn Grubs

• What are White Grubs

• DIY Organic Lawncare?

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Masked chafer grubs feed on roots of lawn grasses, often creating irregular patches of brown, dying grass by late summer and fall. Digging up a sample will reveal white or yellowish C-shaped grubs. These grubs may attract skunks and moles, too.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 

 

Lawn Pest No. 6 - CUTWORMS
Cutworms
Also Known As...

Army Cutworms

Black Cutworms

Bristly Cutworms

Bronzed Cutworms

Claybacked Cutworms

Dingy Cutworms

Glassy Cutworms

Pale Western Cutworms

Redbacked Cutworms

Sandhill Cutworms

Spotted Cutworms

Variegated Cutworms

Helpful Links

• How to Get Rid of Cutworms

• Take the Pest Test

• Why Microclimates Matter

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Cutworms are hard to detect in lawns because their damage isn’t very obvious. In a garden, they can have a devastating impact on plantings, which can include fallen plants and holes in leaves. Most cutworms are hairless caterpillars that hide under debris in the day and feed at night.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Apply Safer® Brand Garden Dust to areas where these worms are present.

 
Lawn Pest No. 7 - FIERY SKIPPERS
Fiery Skippers
Also Known As...

Fiery Skipper Butterflies

Fiery Skipper Caterpillars

Fiery Skipper Moths

Fiery Skipper Larvae

Fiery Skippers

Helpful Links

• Insects Vs. Insects

• The Science of Organic Lawns

• How to Fight Crabgrass

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

This hairless green-gray caterpillar with a black head grows up to an inch long and will later transform into the brightly colored fiery skipper butterfly. As a caterpillar, the fiery skipper creates brown spots in lawns that are about 2 inches long. Infestations may occur, showing multiple spots that link together in an irregular patch. Eggs are laid under grass leaves.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Caterpillar Killer with B.t.

Apply Safer® Brand Caterpillar Killer II with B.t. to areas where these worms are present.

 
Lawn Pest No. 8 - FLEAS
Fleas in Yard
Also Known As...

Cat Fleas

Dog Fleas

Rat Fleas

Helpful Links

• Guide to Fleas

• How to Get Rid of Fleas

• Fight Fleas in the Home

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

While fleas won’t harm a lawn, their presence in a lawn will create problems for pets and humans trying to use it. Look for small black insects around your ankles and in pet fur.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Caterpillar Killer with B.t.

Apply Safer® Brand Yard & Garden Insect Killer in zones where pets and people frequent.

 
Lawn Pest No. 9 - GREEN JUNE BEETLE GRUBS
Green June Beetle Grubs
Also Known As...

Japanese Beetle Grubs

June Beetle Larvae

May Beetle Grubs

May Beetle Larvae

White Grubs

Helpful Links

• How to ID Japanese Beetles

• All About White Grubs

• The Power of OMRI

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Adult Green June Beetles are often confused with Japanese Beetles, but these beetles are much larger and mostly green. Adult Green June Beetles are an indication that their grubs may be infesting a lawn. Damage is indirect and caused by tunneling, which dries out soil and makes the soil spongy. Armadillos and skunks may also dig up lawns in search of these cream-colored grubs with orange-brown heads. These grubs don’t always have the distinct C-shape as other larval insects.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 10 - HORNETS & WASPS
Wasps in yard yellow jackets in yard hornets in yard
Also Known As...

Africanized Bees

Bumble Bees

Carpenter Bees

Honey Bees

Bald-Faced Hornets

European Hornets

Mud Dauber Wasps

Paper Wasps

Yellow Jackets

Helpful Links

• Guide to Stinging Insects

• Hornet & Wasp Facts

• Why Bees are Important

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Before taking any action to address “bees” that may be infesting your yard, make sure you know the species of “bee” you’re encountering. Yellow Jackets are the most common ground-nesting nuisance stinging insect. Paper wasps are semi-aggressive and may make lawn areas near their nests unusable.

DO NOT KILL HONEYBEES, instead contact a professional bee keeper who may remove the bees for free.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Wasp & Hornet Killer

Apply Safer® Brand Wasp & Hornet Killer to wasp, hornet and yellow jacket nests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 11 - JAPANESE BEETLE GRUBS
Japanese Beetle Grubs
Also Known As...

Japanese Beetle Larvae

White Grubs

Helpful Links

• The Story of Japanese Beetles

• Neem for Problem Insects

• Japanese Beetle Guide

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Japanese Beetle Grubs are C-shaped larvae with well-developed legs. They are often about 1 inch long and have a white coloring. Found in the soil, they destroy roots of lawn grasses and attract skunks, crows and moles. Damage is apparent when patches of lawn become brown and spongy.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 12 - JUNE BEETLE GRUBS
June Bug grubs
Also Known As...

June Beetle Larvae

June Bug Grubs

June Bug Larvae

May Beetle Grubs

May Beetle Larvae

May Bug Grubs

May Bug Larvae

White Grubs

Helpful Links

• How to Get Rid of June Bugs

• The Science of Organic Lawns

• When to Fertilize Your Lawn

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Though June Beetle Grubs are sometimes called White Grubs, their coloration varies from yellow to black and most are dark brown. Like most grubs, they are C-shaped. Lawn damage occurs as these grubs feed and tunnel through the soil, resulting in yellowed grass. Heavy infestations will cause lawn die-offs that allow the grass to be removed in large patches.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 13 - LEAFHOPPERS
Leafhoppers in Lawn
Also Known As...

Aster Leafhoppers

Candy Striped Leafhoppers

Glassy-winged Sharpshooters

Grape Leafhoppers

Intermountain Leafhoppers

Rose Leafhoppers

Sharpshooters

Southern Garden Leafhoppers

Western Potato Leafhoppers

Helpful Links

•How to Release Insect Predators

• Insect Library: Leafhoppers

• Guide to Crabgrass

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Leafhoppers are rarely a problem on lawns, except when there’s a massive infestation.  They will feed on all grass types, leaving them yellow or “bleached.” Leafhoppers are small, winged, wedge-shaped insects that look a little bit like a grasshopper. While they are usually green, yellow or gray, the candy striped leafhopper is has brilliant blue and orange patterns on its back.

Leafhoppers are very small, and measure only up to a ¼ inch long. It's their small size that makes them easy to ignore. Aside from grass, they may also feed on roses, potato plants, grape vines and apple trees. Some gardeners say their damage looks a lot like spider mites.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Insect Soap with Pyrethrin

Apply Safer® Brand Insecticidal Soap & Pyrethrin Insect Killer to infested area to target this pest.

 
Lawn Pest No. 14 - LEATHERJACKETS
Leatherjackets grub
Also Known As...

Crane Flies

Crane Fly Larvae

European Leatherjackets

Helpful Links

• Insects Library: Crane Flies

• Spot a Mosquito Imposter

• Fall Lawn Care Guide

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Crane Fly Larvae are grub-like with no legs or apparent head and about 1 ½ inches long. They’re called leatherjackets because of their gray-brown coloring. Adult crane flies are easily mistaken for mosquitoes, but they don’t bite or carry diseases. Larvae damage lawns by eating roots and stems, leaving patches of dead grass.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 15 - MOLE CRICKETS
Mole Crickets
Also Known As...

Northern Mole Crickets

Tawny Mole Crickets

Helpful Links

• Pyrethrin in Pest Control

• Help for a Dying Lawn

• Cricket Facts

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

A common underground lawn pest in the southeastern U.S., they may consume grass and their roots while burrowing through the soil. Damage is evident by raised burrows and dead grass. Mole Crickets are a light brown, measure up to 1 ¼ inches long and have spade-like front legs.

CONTROL OPTIONS
 

Apply beneficial nematodes, available from local garden centers, to lawn areas where these pests are active.

 
Lawn Pest No. 16 - MOSQUITOES
Mosquitoes in yard
Also Known As...

Anopheles Mosquitoes

Asian Tiger Mosquitoes

House Mosquitoes

Yellow Fever Mosquitoes

Helpful Links

• Crazy Facts About Mosquitoes

• Help for Mosquito Bites

• DIY Organic Lawn Care

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Mosquitoes aren’t a lawn damaging insect, but their presence can make a lawn unusable. Aside from their itchy bites, they can also transmit a number of diseases to humans.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 17 - SOD WEBWORMS
Fiery Skippers
Also Known As...

Lawn Moths

Lawn Moth Caterpillars

Lawn Moth Larvae

Vagabond Crambus

Helpful Links

• Insect Library: Sod Webworms

• 5 Amazing Insect Videos

• 6 Ways to Prep Your Yard for Winter

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Areas of lawn are left brown or completely bare since sod webworms eat foliage only, not roots. Sod webworms are about ¾ of an inch long and have cream-colored bodies with a double-row of spots on their backs. Small bristles sprout from the spots.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 18 - SNAILS & SLUGS
Slugs in yard
Also Known As...

Banana Slugs

Eastern North American Land Snail

Garden Snails

Leopard Slugs

Helpful Links

• Leopard Slug Facts

• What is DE?

• How to Get Rid of Slugs

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Snails and slugs are rarely a pest to lawns, but they often appear in lawns at night to breed or travel to a food source. Snails have a shell and slugs do not. These mollusks often leave a slimy, silvery trail across sidewalks, porches and on leaves.

CONTROL OPTIONS

Treat snails with bait solutions from TERRO.com.

Safer Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer

Spread Safer® Brand Ant and Crawling Insect Killer around ant colony entrance areas.

 
Lawn Pest No. 19 - TICKS
Slugs in yard
Also Known As...

American Dog Ticks

Blacklegged Ticks

Brown Dog Ticks

Cayenne Ticks

Deer Ticks

Gulf Coast Ticks

Lone Star Ticks

Pacific Coast Ticks

Rocky Mountain Wood Ticks

Western-Blacklegged Ticks

Helpful Links

• Insect Library: Ticks

• Benefits of Neem Oil

• Develop a Certified Wildlife Habitat

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

Ticks are small parasitic arachnids that swell up as they feed on the blood of their hosts. As they feed, their body fills with blood and they become more visible to the naked eye.

While ticks are not a threat to lawn health, their presence can pose risks to people and pets using the lawn.

Several afflictions, including Lyme disease, are transmitted through tick bites. As a result, they are considered a major pest.

It's highly advised to thoroughly check yourself, your family and your pets each day for ticks.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Mosquito & Tick Killer, which is effective against these pests.

 
Lawn Pest No. 20 - WHITE GRUBS
White Grubs in Lawn
Also Known As...

Asiatic Garden Beetle Grubs

Chafer Grubs*

European Chafer Grubs

Green June Beetle Grubs*

Japanese Beetle Grubs*

June Beetle Grubs*

May Beetle Grubs*

Masked Chafer Grubs*

Oriental Beetle Grubs

Helpful Links

• How to Kill Grubs in Your Lawn

• What are White Grubs

• Life Under Your Lawn

DESCRIPTION & DETECTION

*See individual entries for Chafer/Masked Chafer Grubs, Green June Beetle Grubs, Japanese Beetle Grubs, May/June Bug Grubs.

“White Grub” is a catchall name for a variety of mostly indistinguishable larval forms of a variety of beetles. These grubs are C-shaped, white or cream colored and vary in length from 3/8 to 1½ inches long. White grub infestations create large patches of brown grass after they destroy the roots of grass. The resulting patches become detached from sod and literally can be rolled up like a carpet.

You can check for any of these grubs by digging up a one-foot square patch of unhealthy-looking lawn and counting the grubs you find. If you find more than five, you need to take action.

CONTROL OPTIONS
Safer Brand Grub Killer

Soak lawn with Safer® Brand Grub Killer Concentrate, which is effective against these pests.

 

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