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Extension advice: Not all are bad: Getting to know lawn invaders
Richard Evans
Richard Evans is UGA Extension Service agent in Bryan County.

Some lawns are waking up slowly now. Much like some of us before our morning cup of coffee, lawns are slow to green up this year.

Seems like this season the weeds have stayed green longer and grew faster, as well. Also, as lawns green up, some of you are no doubt seeing something unusual in your lawn. What could this be?

Something is digging in my yard. Is it mole crickets? Moles?

Look at your diggings. Does the mystery lawn guest leave little piles of granulated soil? Does it look like a small ant mound without an entrance?

These are caused by earth worms. They make the piles by passing soil through their bodies. The soil will look granulated, like it passed through a tube.

Worms are not lawn pests.

Some believe that they dig enough to damage some lawns.

There would have to be lots of them to do this. Generally, their activity is beneficial as they cultivate and fertilize the soil.

Sometimes they dig enough to bury turf with their piles of dirt.

If necessary, water these areas to settle the soil.

If the soil has tunnels on the surface and the grass pulls up easily and has no roots - you may have mole crickets. I say this cautiously because many people think they have mole crickets, but few do. How do you know if you do?

Mole crickets make tunnels about the width of your finger.

The tunnels are more easily seen in bare dirt on the morning after a rain. You generally do not see holes in the ground or dirt piles with them. I check for mole crickets by running my fingers underground in the tunnels. You can feel where they dig.

To be certain what you have, you can try to flush out these pests. Mix 1 ounce of lemon dishwashing detergent in a gallon of water. Pour it slowly over the affected area. Wait three to five minutes and soil insects should come to the surface. This should bring up mole crickets and earthworms. This trick should work best on moist lawns during warm weather.

Mole crickets are about 1-inch long, tan-brown with beady eyes and large, strong front legs. They do not hop much and they do not chirp.

Mole crickets hatch in late May and June. They are best controlled with a spray or granular insecticide in June. It is best to wait until then to treat, if you can.

If you must control mole crickets in the spring, use a bait. These are insecticides placed on something the mole cricket will eat. The manufacturers can add something to the bait to attract the pest. Contact us for more details on using baits.

Where are the yellow patches in my lawn coming from?

If your centipede lawn is yellowing, your lawn may be suffering from centipede decline. Affected lawns will yellow and die out in spots. Centipede decline can be the result of improper care or poor soils.

Centipede decline can be the caused by hard compacted soils, over-fertilization, too high mowing height (over 1.5 inches high), thatch and other factors.

Identify and remove these problems and the lawn may recover slowly on its own.

Once again, contact us here at the Bryan County Extension Office at 912-653-2231 or for more details.

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