Friday, August 12, 2011

Animals Digging in the August Lawn

Several people have called about animals digging in their lawns the past couple of weeks. They say the lawn has been torn up and has holes in it. Many times they will call and say that they think they have grubs.

At this time of year, it is still a bit early for white grubs.
If I ask them what the holes look like, most people describe it as a neat hole about the size of a golf ball. The ones I have seen are nicely cleaned out with not dirt crumbs to be seen. These holes an 1 1/2 inches around are an indication of leatherjackets.

While it is possible to see white grubs at this time of year, generally they are very small. This indicates that they are very recently hatched. Skunks and raccoons are harvesting leatherjackets right now because the leatherjackets are at what I call their pre-Thanksgiving size. Just like turkeys are harvested just before Thanksgiving, so the animals are harvesting the leatherjackets when they are at their largest size.

The baby white grubs are not worth digging for. Let them feed on the lawn for a few weeks- we can come back later when they have put on some fat.

Leatherjackets are the larvae of the adult Crane Fly.

At this stage, we don't recommend treatment. The leatherjackets are not feeding or damaging lawns. They will soon pupate and turn into adults. The adult Crane Fly looks like a giant mosquito. They don't hang around very long. They mate and the females lay eggs.

If you see a multitude of the adults, then a control application this fall or next spring may be worthwhile. This treatment is done once the eggs have hatched into larvae. The adult is hard to treat since it is a flying insect. Insect eggs are hard to control. The larvae are the easiest stage to control.

Think positive. The animals are getting rid of the leatherjackets, so that's a plus. Just put a bit of soil and some grass seed in the holes.