Lawn Insects that Will Destroy Your Grass in Tennessee


There are a variety of pests and insects that can wreak havoc on your lawn in Tennessee. From beetles and caterpillars to grubs and ants, these pests can devour grass blades, strip away roots, and create ugly brown patches in the turf. Some of the most common lawn insects found in Tennessee includes:

White Grubs

White grubs are common lawn insects that can cause extensive damage to your beautiful lawn. These destructive insects are the larvae of different species of beetles, including Japanese beetles and billbugs. They feed on the roots of your grass, leaving brown patches of dead grass on the soil surface.

White grubs go through several stages in their life cycle before maturing into adult beetles. They start as eggs in moist soil and hatch as small white grubs. During the grub stage, they continue to feed on grass roots and grow larger until they pupate. In the pupal stage, they transform into the adult form, emerging from the soil as adult insects.

In Tennessee, the most common species of white grubs are Japanese beetle grubs and billbug larvae. Japanese beetle grubs are about an inch long with a distinct C-shape, while billbug larvae are smaller and have a darker color. Identifying and treating grub populations can prevent serious damage to your lawn.

To control white grubs, you can use beneficial insects or soapy water to remove them from your garden plants. You can also use grub treatments that contain bacillus thuringiensis, a natural bacterium that kills white grubs. Lawn care experts recommend monitoring your lawn for chinch bug infestations, heavy infestations of armyworm, and drought stress during the summer months. By taking preventive measures, you can maintain a healthy lawn and keep white grubs at bay.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are common lawn insects that can cause extensive damage to your grass. They thrive in warm and dry conditions and are particularly active during the summer months. Chinch bugs go through several stages in their life cycle, starting as eggs before hatching into nymphs and eventually turning into adult bugs.

Chinch bugs prefer to lay their eggs in the thatch layer of your lawn where they’ll be protected and have easy access to food. As they grow, they will feed on the foliage of your grass, particularly near the soil surface, causing brown patches and dead grass. Chinch bug damage is most prevalent in drought-stressed lawns or those with thin or weak turf.

To check for chinch bug infestations, take a can and cut both ends off, then push one end into the soil. Fill the can with water and wait for a few minutes. If any chinch bugs are present, they will float to the surface. If they are present, use a pathogen that specifically targets chinch bugs to manage them.

To promote lawn recovery after a chinch bug infestation, regular fertilization and watering are essential. Consider choosing resistant grasses like Bermuda, St. Augustine, or zoysia grass that are better able to withstand chinch bug damage. By being aware of chinch bugs and taking steps to prevent and manage infestations, you can enjoy a beautiful and healthy lawn.

Army Worms

Armyworms are destructive insects that can wreak havoc on a beautiful lawn. These pests feed voraciously on the foliage of various grasses, including Bermuda, bluegrass, and fescue. Armyworms are most active during late summer months and prefer moist soil and warm temperatures.

The life cycle of an armyworm begins with adult moths laying their eggs on grass blades. The eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars, which start feeding on grass blades and roots. As they grow, the caterpillars can consume entire patches of grass and move on to another area in search of more food. After reaching maturity, the armyworms spin cocoons in the soil to pupate and emerge as adult moths to start the cycle anew.

Signs of armyworm infestation include brown patches on the lawn that spread quickly, as well as an increase in bird activity feeding on the pests. If left undetected, extensive damage to the lawn can occur, requiring costly repairs.

The most effective way to prevent armyworms is to maintain consistent soil moisture levels and mow regularly to keep the grass healthy. Early detection is also key to preventing armyworms from infesting the lawn, so regularly inspect the grass for signs of trouble.

Treatment measures include applying insecticide during the early evening when the caterpillars are feeding and most active. Using a pathogen that specifically targets armyworms is another effective treatment option. With early detection and swift action, homeowners can prevent extensive damage to their lawns caused by armyworms.

Green June Beetle

Green June Beetles are commonly found in Tennessee during the late summer months. These pests have an iridescent green color with brown undersides and measure up to 1.25 inches in length. They have a distinct buzzing sound when flying and are often found in wooded areas or near bodies of water, as they prefer moist habitats.

Green June Beetles are attracted to a variety of plants and trees, including Bermuda grass, figs, and peaches. These insects can cause extensive damage to foliage and roots as they feed on the leaves and lay their eggs in the soil. This can result in brown spots on the lawn and stunted growth of plants.

To prevent Green June Beetles from infesting your lawn and garden, Tim Schimpf, the owner of Herbi-Systems suggests limiting their preferred habitats by reducing soil moisture levels and avoiding overwatering. It’s also important to regularly inspect plants and trees for signs of infestation, such as visible larvae. Applying a grub treatment to the soil can help control their populations and protect your lawn from further damage.

Hunting Billbugs

Hunting Billbugs, also known as Sphenophorus Venatus, are among the most destructive insects for lawns in Tennessee. These pests can be identified by the crescent-shaped scars they leave on grass stems, and the patches of dead grass they create on lawns. Hunting Billbugs lay their eggs in turfgrass, and their larvae burrow through grass stems, causing extensive damage to roots and blades of grass.

To control Hunting Billbugs, it’s important to follow effective management techniques. One technique is to use resistant turf seed varieties. Resistant grass species such as tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are less vulnerable to Hunting Billbug damage. Another management technique is to maintain soil moisture at a moderate level. Overwatering can increase the likelihood of Hunting Billbug infestations. Additionally, maintaining moderate fertility levels can help to encourage healthy grass growth and increase resistance to Hunting Billbugs.

Signs Your Lawn May Be Infested With Insects

There are a few signs that indicate your lawn may be infested with insects. One of the most common signs is the appearance of brown spots and dead grass. Insects like grubs, Japanese beetles, chinch bugs, army worms, and hunting billbugs can cause extensive damage to your grass, resulting in large areas of brown, dead grass.

Other signs to watch out for include wilting blades, bite marks, holes and tunnels, and missing or damaged roots. Wilting blades and bite marks are typically caused by insects feeding on the foliage of grass blades. Holes and tunnels are signs that insects are burrowing into the soil surface and damaging the roots, while missing or damaged roots can be a sign of grub infestations.

One of the lesser-known signs of insect infestations is the presence of tiny lawn gnats. These insects prefer hot and rainy weather and feed on the roots of grass, making them weak and more susceptible to other types of damage.

If you suspect that your lawn may be infested with insects, it’s essential to take action promptly. There are several effective treatments available, including grub treatments, soapy water, and the use of beneficial insects. To avoid insect infestations in the future, maintain a healthy lawn by watering properly, fertilizing moderately, and choosing grass species that are resistant to common lawn pests. Consult with lawn care experts in West Tennessee and North Carolina to get more insights.