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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, September 15, 2018 1:00 am

Browning yard has plenty of problems

Ricky Kemery

Question: I came back from vacation, and noticed brown areas in my lawn. It also appears as if the moles that were at my neighbor's have now taken up residence in my lawn. What happened?

Answer: I looked at the pictures you sent me and asked you to dig in the damaged area. Indeed, you quickly came upon Japanese beetle grubs just below the surface.

Japanese beetle grubs usually emerge in late August and early September in our area. These grubs hatched from eggs laid in the turf by adult beetles in July. It is interesting how some lawns in a neighborhood have grub issues and others do not. Irrigated lawns are more attractive to beetles. Sometimes you might have plants likes roses or canna lilies that attract beetles.

You consulted with a landscape professional about treatment options. In my opinion, Dylox would be the better choice of options at this time of year. It is what I refer to as the rescue option for grubs. If you do not treat the grubs, you could see significant damage to the lawn.

One cannot easily predict whether you might have this issue next year as Japanese beetle populations can vary from one year to the next. Some folks apply Merit or Grub-Ex to the lawn each season in early June to avoid any potential damage.

It is not surprising that moles have moved to your area for several reasons. First, it is the time of the year when mole “moms” send their young ones off to new territory. You probably have one of the offspring that has moved to your lawn. Grubs are a food source for moles; in fact earthworms are their most preferred food. Even if you control the grubs, the mole will probably stay. You have options to control the moles by trapping or using Talprind baits. You could hire a pest control service to do this for you. Or, you could allow the mole access to your property, rolling out the damage each year. It is always a tough decision.

It also appears that you have bagworms on some rather tall arbor-vitae shrubs on your property. Bagworms are unusual insects because the larvae make a nest or “bag” to protect themselves from predators while they feed on their favorite evergreen shrubs.

Many folks don't notice bagworm activity until the end of the season until the bags are larger or someone points out that the bags were the cause of any damage they saw on the shrubs earlier.

Using pesticides at this time of the year for bagworms is useless.

In this case, since most of the bagworms are located on the top portion, I would prune off the top third of the shrubs and destroy or send the clippings to the landfill.

Use scissors or hand clippers to remove any leftover bags on the shrubs and destroy those. Each bag can contain up to 300 or more bagworm eggs that would hatch next year. We don't want that to happen.

The Plant Medic, written by Ricky Kemery, appears every other Saturday. Kemery retired as the extension educator for horticulture at the Allen County branch of the Purdue Extension Service.