5 Common Lawn Pests and What to Do About Them

You spend hours working on your lawn; mowing, watering and fertilizing to keep the grass thick, green, and healthy. Everything looks great, until one day you notice a mound of dirt surrounding a hole…and another one and then a few more. Soon, your beautiful green lawn has brown patches, ridges and other unsightly problems.

Even when you give your lawn plenty of TLC, pests can do a number on it. Professional lawn care and maintenance services are often called in when homeowners discover pests and want to save the grass before it’s chewed up or even killed by insects and rodents. Although every lawn is different and some areas are more susceptible to certain lawn pests than others, knowing the most common invaders can help you keep them out of your yard, or take care of them quickly if they do show up.

The Pests Most Likely to Tear Up Your Lawn


Moles are small rodents, often confused with mice. They have dark, velvety fur and small ears and eyes; the size of their ears is the best way to differentiate one from a mouse. Moles live underground, where they eat earthworms and other invertebrates, including the larvae of other bugs.

Moles won’t directly eat your grass or the roots, but rather they cause damage with their tunneling in search of food. In fact, evidence of moles is often linked to grubs in your lawn, but they can appear on their own as well. They tend to be attracted to damp earth, and overwatering can bring them into your yard. Watering less often, can help keep them away. Otherwise, using traps and pesticides may be the only way to keep them out.


A favorite food of moles, grubs are actually the larvae of beetles, including the Japanese beetles that wreak havoc on your flower and vegetable gardens. Typically fat, white, wormlike creatures, grubs feed on the roots of the grass, killing the plant.

Beetles have a one-year lifecycle. The insects typically lay their eggs in the summer, turn into the larvae that eat grass roots in the fall. They go dormant in the winter, tunneling into the soil, only to reemerge in the spring and continue munching on the grass. They then hatch into new beetles, beginning the cycle all over.

When you have a grub infestation, you’ll start to notice brown patches of dead grass in your lawn. Because the roots have been severed, you can easily lift the patch of grass and roll it up like a carpet. You’ll likely see the grubs in the dirt, too. The only way to get rid of grubs is by using a pesticide, and doing so every year. Left untreated, they can kill the entire lawn.


Like grubs, it’s the larvae of webworms that harm your lawn. Adult webworms are small, off-white colored moths that fly just above the grass; you might not even notice them until you mow the lawn. The moths lay eggs in the soil, though, and the hatching larvae eat the grass at night. The damage they do is usually hidden by new growth, but once your grass goes dormant, you’ll see where they’ve been eating your lawn. Again, professional intervention to eliminate the larvae is necessary to protect the grass.

Chinch Bugs Chinch bugs stay on the surface, and literally suck the life out of the grass. These tiny black bugs — only about the size of a tip of a pencil — tend to be found in large swarms on the grass.

They suck the sap out of individual blades of grass and inject saliva that causes the grass to die. When they aren’t feeding, they find hiding places in the thatch under the top layers of grass.

Chinch bugs will cause areas of widespread damage if they aren’t controlled. Dethatching the lawn to eliminate their hiding places, and using pesticides, can keep them away.


Billbugs are another species where it’s the larvae that kills your lawn, not the adults. A type of weevil, they spend the winter on the edges of your yard, especially if you have trees or leaf litter around the edges of the grass. In the spring, they return to the grass to lay their eggs. The larvae eat grass at their growing point, killing it.

Billbugs are one of the most difficult pests to diagnose because they are so small, and they borrow so deeply into the spring thatch. Dethatching can help, as well as cleaning up all leaf debris on the edge of the yard. Most pesticides will take care of the bugs as well.

Keeping these pests out of your yard can help you maintain a strong, healthy lawn. Take care with any pesticides and call for professional help if necessary.

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