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Taxonomy terms
  • Lawn care requires a knowledge of the key lawn pests – insects (and arthropod) pests, weeds and diseases
  • Lawn ‘grubs’, which loosely include beetle larvae and moth larvae, eat the grass plants, either the roots and/or the leaves
  • There are a variety of common weeds which need to be remove when first spotted before they can take over garden lawns
  • Turf diseases can be difficult to identify and treat and is generally best left to turf management professionals

Most of the insects pests found in urban lawns fall into one of three groups

  • Beetle pests (lawn grubs)
  • Moth pests (caterpillars – armyworms and webworms)
  • Ants

Lawn grubs

There are a variety of beetles that are pests of lawns, including the African black beetle, Argentinian Scarab, the red-headed cockchafer, black-headed cockroach and pruinose scarab. It is the larvae stages of these beetles that cause the damage, eating the turf roots. The larvae are called curl grubs as they have a curled shape when at rest. Check out this great summary article on curl grubs and lawn damage.

Caterpillars in lawns

There are three groups of moth, that get their name from their caterpillars which cause damage to turf – armyworms, sod webworms and cutworms. Although not a pest in lawns, but a pest on garden plants, the cluster caterpillar is also commonly found in gardens. Check out our magazine article on caterpillar pests in lawns for more detail.

Ants in lawns

Ants in lawns fall into tow categories; biting ants, such as the green-head ant and tryants ants, and funnel ants. Check out our magazine article for more information on biting ants in lawns.

There other arthropods (not insects) that can be occasional pests in lawns, such as ticks, lawn prawns (amphipods), couch mites which cause “witches broom” and spider mites (which are more of a plant pest)

Weeds in the garden lawn are a common problem for homeowners. Formutately, if you can identify them properly, they can be removed and prevents with appropriate weed killers (herbicides).

We have some good general articles on broadleaf weeds and summer annual weeds, as well as specific articles on Bindii control and Fleabane.

It is of course important to know how to identify cool season and warm season grasses, as this influences the type of herbicide you can use on your lawn.

Fungal diseases in turf

Fungal disease generally occur in unhealthy turf, which may be stress by too little or too much water, attack by insects pests or incorrect use of fertilizer. Fungal diseases can appear overnight, all year round, but are commonly associated with humid weather / wet soil.

There are a large number of fungal diseases, which need to be correctly identified to ensure the correct products and treatment regime is applied. In lawns with recurring disease issues, it is generally better to apply fungicides preventatively than try and apply a curative treatments once the disease is established.

We will be providing more information on fungal diseases in turf in the coming months.

Our library has a number of magazine articles on the common lawn pests and weeds found in gardens.

Here are the basic requirements for a healthy lawn.