Where to Look for Signs of Pests in Your Lawn

Your green lawn is a complex ecosystem that goes beyond just grass. It is host to a variety of life, including insects and grubs. While some insects, like pollinating bees and earthworms, are beneficial and contribute to soil health, others can damage your lawn.

On the surface, chinch bugs feed on grass, leading to yellowing, wilting, and eventual death of the grass. Underground, pests like white grubs and billbugs can damage the roots, affecting your lawn's ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.

The result of a pest infestation often appears as unexplained brown, dry patches on your lawn despite proper lawn care practices such as applying lawn fertilizers. Identifying the specific insects damaging your lawn is crucial for effective pest control. While there are many insect species, only about one percent are considered pests. Therefore, using broad-spectrum insecticides may not be the most effective approach, as they can harm beneficial insects along with lawn pests.

6 Common Lawn Pests in Florida & Where to Look For Them

Lawn-damaging insects can be categorized into two main groups based on their feeding habits: surface-feeding insects, which feed on the surface of the lawn and are therefore easily visible, and subsurface insects, which target the roots, so you may have to dig into the soil to detect them.

In Florida, specific lawn and garden pests are known to attack particular grass types that flourish in its warm and humid climate.


Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are tiny insects that feed off moisture from grass. They release saliva while feeding, which prevents the grass from absorbing water, leading to the grass turning yellow or brown before its eventual death.

These lawn pests are most prevalent in the southern and western states and are particularly damaging to Zoysia and St. Augustine grasses. Adult chinch bugs can be identified by their oval shape, black bodies, and white overlapping wings. They are small, about a fifth of an inch long, making them difficult to detect without a magnifying glass. Another distinguishing feature is a black triangle near their head. You can check for chinch bugs near the base of the grass blades, particularly along the edges of a damaged area where it meets healthy, unaffected grass on your lawn.


Armyworms are the larval form of fall moths and are caterpillar grubs that can vary in color from yellow, green, and dark brown to black, reaching up to 40mm long. These pests earned their name due to their tendency to form large armies, with a single moth capable of laying up to 500 eggs overnight, repeating this process the following night. Once hatched, these eggs develop into armyworms that can reach plague proportions, feeding on grass and causing brown patches that resemble drought stress.

These lawn grubs are most active during summer, spring, and fall. While the brown moths that armyworms transform into are easily recognizable at night due to their attraction to light and furry abdomens, identifying armyworms themselves is more challenging. They usually hide during the day at soil level or within thatch layers, emerging at night or early in the morning to feed on grass blades and stems.



Billbugs are a type of weevil that can damage grass throughout their entire life cycle, unlike most bugs, which only pose issues during their larval stage. Adult billbugs chew on grass to create a hole and lay eggs inside. Once hatched, the larvae feed on grass from the inside out, consuming the grass stems and roots, further causing lawn damage.

The larvae are creamy with brown heads, legless, and usually range from a quarter to half an inch long. Signs of billbug presence include irregular patches of dried grass, and hollowed-out stems. These stems break easily when pulled and are filled with light-brown, sawdust-like material, which is their excrement. Additionally, you may see clusters of larvae at the base of the grass or in the topsoil.

ALSO READ: 10 Most Common Weeds in Florida Lawns and How to Treat Them

Mole Crickets

Mole crickets are elongated, brown insect pests with lobster-like heads, wings, and bodies that can reach up to an inch long. They are named for their large front legs with jagged claws that resemble the claws of a mole.

Prevalent in the southeastern states, mole crickets spend most of their time underground, actively feeding on the roots. However, they also eat grass when they emerge from the ground. Signs of their presence include raised burrows and dead grass patches. Mole crickets are most active from mid to late spring until the end of summer, favoring moist soil. Female mole crickets lay eggs in the fall and throughout the warmer months, with adult males dying after mating and females dying after laying their eggs.


White Grubs

Among the most destructive lawn pests are white grubs, the larvae of various scarab beetles like masked chafers and Japanese beetles. These plump, C-shaped larvae feed on the roots and organic matter in the soil, severing the roots and preventing plants from absorbing enough moisture and nutrients.

White grubs usually have a one-year life cycle. They start as eggs laid in early summer by adult beetles, which then hatch into beetle larvae that actively feed through the fall. As winter approaches and temperatures drop, the grubs burrow underground to avoid freezing, only emerging in spring to resume feeding on roots. This life cycle highlights the importance of monitoring lawn grasses for new infestations.

Damage from grubs usually begins with wilted grass plants, followed by irregular brown patches of dead grass and eventual lawn death. Infested areas often lift easily from the soil, exposing grubs. Additionally, crows, skunks, or moles on your lawn may indicate their search for a grub meal.

Sod Webworms

Sod webworms, also known as snout moth caterpillars, are pests that feed on grass blades, resulting in bare patches of grass. These larvae can grow up to an inch long and have a pale green or brown body with dark spots along their length.

Signs of sod webworm damage include ragged leaf margins where the larvae have been feeding. Additionally, as they consume grass blades, they can turn them into skeleton-like structures with only the veins remaining.


Other Pest Hiding Spots

This list highlights that while some pest infestations are easy to spot, others require closer inspection to detect pest damage. Understanding where and what to look for is crucial for maintaining a healthy lawn.

Leaves and Stems: Other lawn pests like spider mites, cabbage worms, and mealybugs often lay eggs on the underside of the leaves near the stem. Aphids usually hide around stems, laying eggs and damaging plants as they move upward.

Weeds: Weeds not only compete with desired vegetation for water and nutrients but also harbor diseases and pests.

Old Pots: Even seemingly harmless items like old pots and containers can harbor pests and diseases. For example, if you previously discarded an unhealthy potted plant, the old container may still contain pests unless thoroughly cleaned.


How to Control Pests in Your Lawn

Preventing and managing lawn pest issues requires a multi-step, targeted approach involving proper chemical treatments that specifically address the pests in your lawn. Conducting regular inspections and maintenance is also necessary to prevent future re-infestation.

Additionally, proper lawn care practices, such as dethatching, aerating, mowing at proper heights, watering adequately, and fertilizing based on your lawn's specific needs, are crucial for creating a healthy lawn that is more resistant to pests. These practices consequently correct conditions that may be conducive to pest infestations. For example, weak, poor-quality soil with compacted soil or imbalanced pH levels and nutrient content is more likely to attract pests.


Establish a Healthier Lawn with NutriPod®

NutriPod® is a valuable tool for creating and maintaining a healthy lawn. This grass plug fertilizer is designed to support grass plugs as they are established in the soil. The granules are encased in dissolvable pods and placed into each planting hole before a grass plug, providing a gradual and controlled release of nutrients.

This method ensures that the grass plugs receive the nutrients they need without the risk of over-fertilizing, a concern often associated with traditional fertilizers. Incorporating NutriPod® into your lawn care routine when establishing a new lawn or repairing damaged areas can help promote a healthy, pest-resistant lawn.

For more information on NutriPod® and how it can benefit your lawn, visit the NutriPod® website.

The traditional methods of fertilizing plants can often be messy, inaccurate, and detrimental to the ecosystem.

Enter NutriPod®, a revolutionary solution that simplifies plant nutrition while being environmentally responsible.