Protect against lawn pests
Some pests wreak havoc inside the home, causing serious damage to wood and furnishings.
Outside, certain pests can be similarly harmful, invading and destroying plants and lawns.
“This time of year, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for worms and moths,” says Sean Fong, president of Hawaiian Turfgrass in Mililani. “Some aren’t harmful at all, but others can absolutely devastate your lawn. If you know how to identify them, you can start treating them early.”
One of the most destructive lawn pests in Hawaii, the fall armyworm, or Spodoptera frugiperda, travels in small “armies,” devouring everything in its path.
Usually active between July and October, fall armyworms can engulf lawns and gardens. Armyworm moths, ash-gray with a wingspan of about an inch and a half, can lay up to 2,000 eggs that hatch in two or three days. Worms are either green or muddy brown, with wide black stripes running down their sides and a light upside-down “Y” on their heads.
“Look for their droppings — green or yellow pellets 1-2 millimeters long — on leaves at the base of plants and grass,” Fong says. “They feed on the leaves, stems and above-ground parts of more than 300 different plants, including grasses, succulents and even vegetable crops. Another sign is moths flying over or around your lawn, or a lot of birds, which eat the grubs that turn to moths. If you have an actual infestation, you’ll see hundreds of worms feeding during the day.”
The destructive little pests eat the green out of grass blades, “skeletonizing” them so only the veining structure remains.
“Grass blades that seem transparent are often the work of fall armyworms,” Fong says. “Look for small brown patches in your lawn, often around woods, buildings, sheds and light posts, where the adults lay their eggs.”
Fall armyworm outbreaks are common after storms and hurricanes. And if you see even a single worm or moth, it’s likely that there is an infestation.
“It’s important to treat your lawn before the damage spreads,” Fong says. “Apply pesticides with chlorantranilip role, bifenthrin, trichlorfon or other pyrethroids.”
The process must be repeated at least once, he adds. “There are usually four or five armyworm generations each year, so if you treat one growth stage, you likely have not treated all of them.”
The best defense against fall armyworms and other pests is regular maintenance.
“Fertilize according to schedule, and don’t let thatch build, because worms love thatch,” Fong says. “Mow and water your lawn regularly, especially when it’s hot. Between irrigation and rainfall, make sure it gets about an inch of water each week. If your lawn is healthy, it will survive minor infestations.”
With Hawaiian Turfgrass, it’s simpler and quicker than ever to purchase a beautiful new lawn. Visit hawaiianturfgrass.com to place an order and arrange for pickup or curbside delivery. Prefer to let the professionals handle the job? Call 808-371-0527 to schedule complete turnkey installation (minimum 400 square feet) by Oct. 31 for a $500 discount.
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ADDRESS 94-840 Lanikuhana Ave., Mililani