3 Common Surface Insects Looking to Destroy Your Maryland Lawn

picture of brown patch on grass

Summer is here, and it’s time to get outside and enjoy everything nature in Central Maryland has to offer. What better place to do that than in the privacy of your own backyard. As a home or business owner, you don’t want to spend your hard-earned money, time, or energy on landscaping improvements only to have them ruined by a disease or lawn pest. This article discusses three of the most common surface insects that can wreak havoc on your Central Maryland lawn, the sod webworm, chinch bug, and cutworm. Invest now, while it’s warm but not excruciatingly hot yet, in American Lawn and Tree Specialists, surface insect control can help protect your yard from these and various other appalling insects.

Sod Webworms

If you’ve seen small, tan-colored moths flying around your lawn this summer, then you’ve probably seen an adult sod webworm. The larval caterpillar of this tiny moth is one of the worst summer lawn pests here in Maryland. They start becoming active in May and look like brown moths about 1/2 to 3/4 inches in length. The moths themselves do not cause any damage, but their eggs hatch into larvae with a fierce appetite.

The eggs hatch in just one week, and with females laying up to 60 eggs per night, there will be plenty of hungry webworms to go around. The complete cycle takes six to ten weeks, and they can produce several generations in one season. It is the last generation that overwinters in your soil, sticking around for next spring.

What Kind of Damage Do Sod Webworms Cause?

Large numbers of sod webworm larvae chew on your grass blades. Their chewing activity removes the top growth of your grass, leaving behind thin patches of shorter grass. As the caterpillars grow, they leave behind large areas of brown patches. Since brown patch is a common sign of many other lawn stressors, this symptom can often be confused with something else.

The best way to diagnose a sod webworm infestation in your lawn is to mix 1/4 cup of dish detergent and two gallons of water. Mark off a few square foot sections where brown patches exist and soak that area of the lawn. If sod webworms are to blame for your lawn damage, they will begin coming to the surface within minutes. 

Prevention, Control, and Elimination of Sod Webworms

The best way to prevent sod webworms from taking over your lawn is through the proper care and maintenance of your lawn. Water and fertilize regularly so your turf’s roots grow strong and healthy and are better able to resist pest infestations and better able to recover.

If sod webworms have already laid their eggs, you can sprinkle your lawn with a chemical called Bacillus thuringiensis. However, it must be done during the early stages, or it will be ineffective. Because timing with sod webworms is everything, the best solution is to call in a professional lawn care company such as American Lawn and Tree Specialists. Our trained professionals have the knowledge and experience you need. We offer surface insect control for pests such as sod webworms.

Chinch Bugs

This evil lawn villain can damage all types of turfgrass, but it does the most damage to warm-season grasses such as tall fescue, bermudagrass, bentgrass, zoysia, and Kentucky bluegrass. What type of damage do chinch bugs do? They stab the blades of your grass with their razor-sharp beaks sipping the juice out. This cuts off your turf’s water supply. When they do this, they release a toxin that causes the grass blades to become discolored. Eventually, the grass dies from dehydration, leaving your lawn looking like it’s been through a war zone.

Unfortunately, you will probably see the damage before you see the chinch bugs. They are about 1/6 inch in length and live in your thatch just above the soil. They are well camouflaged with grayish-black bodies and red legs. If you look closely, you may not be able to catch a glimpse of one individual chinch bug, but if your damage is excessive, you will more than likely see several in a group congregating.

Prevention, Control, and Elimination of Chinch Bugs 

Strong, healthy lawns are less likely to fall victim to chinch bug damage, so investing in a good lawn maintenance program that includes proper fertilization and watering can help. When mowing your lawn, cut no more than one-third of the blade down as this weakens your turf and makes it more prone to future infestations. And lastly, because chinch bugs live in the thick mat of dead grass that forms on the base of your blades, known as thatch, it’s best to have your lawn dethatched and aerated annually. This will remove the dead matter and loosen up your soil, allowing much-needed water, sunlight, and oxygen to get to the roots of your grass.

Once an infestation has occurred, most store-bought turf-type pesticides will help, but all work differently. We recommend leaving this up to the experts and investing in proper lawn care and prevention with a lawn care professional such as American Lawn and Tree Specialists.


These gross-looking creatures get their name because they cut down young plants. They are the larvae of various moth species that are active at night. Different species have different colors, but most are smooth with no hair and are two inches when fully grown. Like sod webworms, only the juveniles are devious.  They hide during the day and come out at night. When they do, they feed on the vegetables in your garden and curl their bodies around the stem of your grass blades to munch on them.  Doing this causes the plant to be cut off just above the soil line. Cutworms can cause severe damage to your valuable garden vegetables.

Prevention, Control, and Elimination of Cutworms

The best way to get rid of cutworms is through prevention. Always weed your garden and plant vegetables early. Till your garden before planting, which can help expose and kill larvae that may have lived through the winter. Some have found that creating a barrier of aluminum foil or cardboard collars around plants can help. This creates a barrier that stops cutworm larvae from feeding on plants. If cutworms are discovered, you can physically remove them and drop them into soapy water.

Protect Your Central Maryland Lawn Now With Surface Insect Control

As mentioned, the best way to prevent all three of these harmful pests from destroying your lawn is through proper care and prevention. American Lawn and Tree Specialists offer an Organic Based Lawn Care Program that will provide your turf with the appropriate fertilization needed to stay strong and healthy. We also offer a highly effective surface insect control that will reduce the population of all turf-damaging insects, including the three discussed. It will also help protect your grass from other pests, including armyworms, ants, fleas, and ticks.

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American Lawn and Tree Specialists currently works in:

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