Protecting Your Lawn From Pests

Protect your lawn from destructive pests

Summer may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean we get to stop worrying about our lawns just yet. In fact, fall is the most active season for many lawn-destroying pests, like box elder bugs and other beetles. The last thing you want is to have spent all summer meticulously grooming your lawn, only to see it destroyed at the finish line.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to end that way. There are a number of ways you can fight back against lawn-munching insects right up until the ground freezes. Protecting your lawn now will help ensure it comes back stronger than ever the next spring. Just follow these steps:

Mow, Trim, and Manage

mowing your lawn will help prevent fall lawn pests

You should keep mowing your lawn in the fall right up until it turns brown and dies. Long, unkempt grass attracts pests and weeds. Bugs can eat grass and feed their larvae with its root systems. Larvae can permanently damage your lawn and potentially create ugly brown spots. If the damage is extensive enough, large sections of your lawn may not regenerate in spring.

You should mow your lawn about as often as you did in summer, until you notice the grass is no longer growing. Make sure you bag the clippings, and rake up dead grass as needed. Along with mowing, it’s important to trim bushes, ornamental shrubs, and tree branches, too. Pick up any debris that falls onto your lawn, too. Depriving pests of easy food and shelter will make your lawn far less appealing to grass-gnawing opportunists, and much healthier, too.

Pull Out Grubs

look for and pull out grubs beneath sod on your lawn

When larvae feeds on root systems for long enough, the grasses’ ability to absorb nutrients from the soil is diminished. The grass won’t get the sustenance it needs to grow, and it will wither and die. Dead grass looks crunchy and brown. Larvae can eat certain parts of your lawn and leave others untouched, creating brown spots of dead grass in an otherwise healthy yard.

If you have a brown spot, you should cut about 1 foot down into the turf at one of its edges. Roll away the area with the damaged grass and look at the dirt below. Chances are, you’ll find several beetle grubs. If you find more than 5, you’ll need to treat your grub infestation immediately. There are store products available for this task at most hardware stores and nurseries, or we could help you with it. Don’t leave the grubs in your lawn until spring.

Don’t Overwater

Be sure not to overwater your lawn, especially in fall

Pests of all varieties are attracted to moisture, especially if it’s easily accessible. When you water your lawn too much, the dirt and root systems can’t soak up and absorb all the moisture you’re introducing. Instead, excess water sits on the surface.

Remember: even though your lawn will keep growing in fall, it probably won’t need as much water as it did during the summer. As temperatures cool and nights grow longer, dew lasts longer and less moisture evaporates in the sun. Be careful not to overwater your plants, and ensure your lawn has proper drainage in case of heavy rains. If you notice persistent puddling or wet spots in low areas of the lawn, you should consider leveling out that part of the yard.

Weed

pull weeds out of your lawn to help prevent lawn pests this fall

Undesirable plants like weeds, dandelions, moss, ivy, brambles, and crabgrass don’t just choke out your grass and other plants; they attract pests too. Wild, growing weeds attract all kinds of different bugs, from gnats to flies. Wild flowers may attract wasps or bees. Weeds can provide a much-needed food source for pests during the fall. Some weeds may even attract wild animals like deer or raccoons to your yard.

You probably got used to weeding this summer, so don’t stop now! When you’re pulling weeds out of your yard, make sure you pull out the whole root system. This will ensure the weed plant doesn’t regenerate. You could also administer localized herbicide from a spray tool–but be careful not to kill any plants you want alive! Dispose of weeds in your garbage or composting. Never pull out weeds and then leave them in your yard, or you just basically made a garden salad for pests! “Garden salad”, see what we did there?

 

You worked hard this summer making sure your lawn stayed healthy and beautiful. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste thanks to some dumb bug. Follow these yard maintenance tips until the ground freezes, and you’ll get to enjoy a healthy and happy yard next spring.

Even if you do end up with yard pest problems–or any other kind of pest problem for that matter–don’t despair! Just call Griffin and we’ll help make sure the grass is greener on the other side.

Late Summer Pest Infestations

The Pests of Late Summer

When you think about late summer bugs, chances are you picture them outside. When it’s hot and humid out, like it tends to be during Midwest summers, pests like rodents, centipedes, and spiders don’t have much reason to get into your home.

As soon as summer starts to end, however, pests start looking for a place to wait out the winter– a place like your home! Late summer tends to be the worst time of year for pest infestations for that exact reason. Here are a few of the sneaky snowbirds you can expect in the next couple weeks, and what you can do about them.

 

Rodents

rats are active in late summer and early fall

Michigan’s rodents start preparing for winter early. They get aggressive in the pursuit of food, they start stockpiling resources, they dig burrows for themselves, and–of course–they sneak into homes. The earlier a rodent can find a warm, dry, dark place to nest over the winter, the better. As soon as the sun starts setting earlier, expect rodents to be hard at work preparing for cold.

Rodents will infiltrate a home by any means necessary, and they have plenty of means. First, they’ll look for cracks, gaps, and holes like openings in window sills, door frames, floorboards, or utility lines. Next, they’ll try burrowing to get at the foundations or insulation in the basement. More than anything, rodents target places where they can get food. Regular vacuuming and cleaning up after meals becomes even more important in the fall. You don’t want to advertise that your home is open for rodent business!

 

Spiders

the brown recluse spider may be active in late summer and early fall

Spiders begin mating around early September every year, which is one of the few things that will prompt them to leave their webs and get moving. Spiderlings in egg sacs stay warm during the winter. Adult spiders need to survive long enough to lay eggs, which means they need to find shelter. Between the need for shelter, the need to find mates, and the fact that a lot of their prey is fleeing indoors, homes start to look really appealing to spiders this time of year.

Spiders get into homes the same way other pests tend to: by finding their way through the cracks. Spiders are excellent climbers, so don’t think any crack or gap is too high or inaccessible for them. The best way to prevent spiders is to prevent other pest infestations. If spiders can’t hunt prey, they won’t want to hang around. Clearing away clutter will also help keep spiders from taking up residence.

 

Cockroaches

cockroaches tend to be active in the late summer and early fall

Cockroaches don’t hibernate, nor can they survive freezing temperatures for long. Both the common species of cockroach (American and German) highly prefer warm temperatures. American roaches seem to feel that 70 degrees is juuust right. Unfortunately, it gets worse. Like spiders, cockroaches tend to mate while sheltering indoors. They’re even known to settle in with their families after the egg sacs hatch. Any roaches that get into your home in late summer could be the first members of a multi-generational infestation.

Cockroaches want to live in confined, warm, dark, and humid places where they feel comfortable and safe. That means your basement, attic, and crawlspaces are prime real estate–especially if they’re messy or cluttered. It’s a good idea to organize and tidy up your basements and attics every late summer. Clear out anything you don’t need, organize boxes, and repair sources of undue moisture like humidity and plumbing leaks.

 

Stink Bugs

brown marmorated stink bugs tend to be especially active in late summer and early fall

Just because they’re a relatively new nuisance to Michigan doesn’t mean the Brown Marmorated stink bug hasn’t acclimated to their new home just fine. Unlike many pests that inflict themselves on Michigan households during late summer, stink bugs actually hibernate during the winter. They’re not mating and laying eggs in your home; they’re just sleeping. Even hibernating stink bugs can’t survive the cold, however, so before they hibernate they have to seek out shelter. They’ll even let themselves out in the spring!

Stink bugs frequently get into houses by squeezing under worn-out weather stripping, damaged screens, or gaps in window and door frames. Like spiders, stink bugs are very good climbers, so they’ve been known to use chimneys and air vents as access points, as well. Replacing chimney and vent screens will go a long way toward securing your home, especially if you replace worn weather stripping and window frames at the same time.

 

You’ve still got a little warm summer weather left, so now’s the perfect time to get proactive! Some simple preventative maintenance now could save you a big headache come winter.

Want some help making sure you’re totally pest-proofed for fall? Give Griffin a call today! Together, we’ll make sure your home keeps you warm and leaves pests cold.