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How to repair and restore grass destroyed by insects and bugs

Jeffrey T. Fowler District Director, PSU Cooperative Extension Sports Turf Managers Association, Academic Rep
How to repair and restore grass destroyed by insects and bugs

During the summer, insects can do considerable damage to sports fields and open grass areas across the country. Recovery from this is vital to the playability of those fields next year. The following is a list of do’s and don’ts to recuperate from the devastation insects can have on your green grass.


Do

Do mow

Continue to mow into the fall season to stimulate plant growth. Many times, insects feed on the plant above the crown, also known as the growing point, of the plant and will recover without much effort or attention.

Do overseed

Spread new seed in the areas affected by the insect damage. You will want to remove the damaged turf areas and loosen the soil in that area. This will allow the new plants to germinate with ease and mature before other conditions slow down growth (e.g. colder winter temperatures).

Do continue to water

Grass plants need water to grow and germinate. Water those areas damaged to aid the plants in recovery and to aid new seeds in the germination and growing process.

Do control the insects that caused the damage

First, identify the insect that caused your damage. Many times, depending on the critter, autumn is a good time to control the population of larvae that caused the issue and help you to minimize future disasters. Whatever the case, do some research on the type of insect that caused the damage to be sure you are treating it in the correct way.

Do plan control tactics for the future

If control measures aren’t conducted in the fall because the insect that you identified is better controlled at another time, plan your strategies now for control next year. Because you had a problem this year, doesn’t mean you will next year, but always plan for the future. When you see damage next year, you will have a plan to control the amount of destruction the insects will cause.


Don't

Do not forget about your fertilization plan

Continue to provide your turf plants with the food they need to stay healthy. Research has shown the most important fertilization of the year is in the late fall. This application provides essential nutrients to help the plant endure during the winter. Fertilizer will help both the old and new plants recover from insect damage and help grow through other stresses that the plant has encountered.

Do not stop aerification

While pulling cores isn’t always possible because of fall sports schedules, there are many other types of aerification that will not disrupt play. Aerification relieves compaction in the soil and allows roots to grow more abundantly, making the turf plants healthier and encourages growth.

Do not forget to prevent pest problems

The best way to prevent damage from turf insects is to keep grass healthy. Minimal insecticide treatments are needed for healthy lawns. Healthy turf stands can be your best medicine to fight off an insect infestation.

Do not overlook biological control

If you are in an area that won’t allow or it is your desire to not use chemicals, there are biological control measures that can be applied to control insects which cause damage in turf areas.

Do not be afraid to consult an expert

One of the biggest reasons for failed insect control measures in turf areas is miss identification of the pest. If you aren’t sure about the insect causing damage to your sports fields, seek expert advice to assist in proper identification. This will translate to you being able to properly treat the pest.


Summary
Jumping cartoon

These ideas will assist you in managing your natural grass areas that have been damaged by insects during the summer or early fall season. Do your research on the type of insect causing the damage, plan for the future, and don’t hesitate to contact an expert to help identify and treat your problem areas.


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Photo Credits: Provided by Jeffrey Fowler; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com

Jeffrey T. FowlerDistrict Director, PSU Cooperative Extension

Jeffrey Fowler is the District Director for Venango, Clarion, Warren and Forest Counties in Northwest Pennsylvania. Since 1988, he has been working for Penn State University in Cooperative Extension. In addition to being District Director, Fowle...

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