Organic Insect Management
What is Organic Insect Management?
Nutri-Lawn's organic insect control implements all the features of Integrated Pest Management with the exception that no synthetic pesticides are used. We focus on creating an environment that encourages healthy turfgrass growth so your lawn is capable of tolerating minor insect feeding. Our in depth knowledge in the lifecycles of turfgrass insect pests allows us to implement a variety of management techniques that can dramatically reduce pest populations without using any pesticides.
What Do We Use to Organically Manage Insects?
We educate and inform our customers on how to use simple management techniques like those listed below. We also use naturally occurring predatory insects called beneficial nematodes as a preventative application to help reduce grub populations.
What Do We Use to Organically Manage Insects?
Beneficial nematodes are microscopic round worms that attack insect larvae in the soil. The nematodes are naturally occurring in our soils and are harmless to mammals like humans, dogs, cats and birds, but to white grubs they are deadly. We apply nematodes via water to the surface of lawns, and then arrange the homeowner to water them into the soil, or time the application with a period of rain. Beneficial nematodes are best used as in a preventative manner, and should be applied soon after the larvae (grubs) have hatched, in their 1st or 2nd instar. This means that insect damage will not be evident when the nematodes are best applied. Research has shown that using nematodes to control fully grown grubs that have entered their 3rd instar is poor and not recommended.
Here are a few points to remember when having nematodes applied to your lawn:
- They are sensitive to sunlight (UV) and so the application is best done early in the morning or late in the day. Alternatively, they can be applied on an overcast day.
- Nematodes need water to survive so water your lawn heavily the day before and after an application of nematodes. This will accomplish two things. It will drive the grubs closer to the surface on the soil, and it will create a moist environment where the nematodes can live and move.
- Water the lawn immediately after an application to wash the nematodes down into the soil where they can attack the grubs. Keep the lawn moist for at least two weeks after an application to facilitate nematode infect of the grub.
- Aerate the lawn before an application of nematodes in order to open up the soil and make it easier for the nematodes to get down into the soil where the grubs are. We recommend an annual core aeration for all our customers because of the many benefits it offers.
Cultural Management Techniques
- Allow the top one inch (2.5 cm) of soil to dry out between waterings when the European Crane Fly is laying their eggs. European Crane Fly eggs require almost a 100% humidity to remain viable, and they are laid very close to the surface of soil. When you see giant mosquitoes flying around in late summer/early fall try to allow the surface of your lawn to dry out and this will dramatically reduce infestation of the European Crane Fly larvae (Leather Jackets).
- Maintain good soil moisture in the summer to help your lawn tolerate Chinch bug damage, but avoid over watering. Chinch bug feeding causes the lawn to turn brown, and desicate rapidly. If you have been watering sufficiently and the full sun areas of your lawn are getting browner, call Nutri-Lawn immediately as it is probably due to a Chinch bug infestation. It could also be due to a fungal disease. Either way, call Nutri-Lawn to come and take a look and we will diagnose the problem for you for free. Over watering can leach essential plant nutrients below the root zone, and it can also encourage the establishment of fungal diseases.
- Core aerate annually to control thatch and reduce soil compaction. A thick thatch is the perfect environment for many insect pests to thrive, including Chinch bugs. By keeping your thatch layer to a minimum you will be discouraging future Chinch bug infestations. Core aeration also encourages strong, deep, healthy root growth which is essential in order to create a lawn capable of tolerating root feeding insect pests like White Grubs and Leather jackets.
- Overseed or slit-seed with new robust cultivars of turfgrass. We recommend the use turfgrass seed mixes that include entophytic Perennial Ryegrass. Entophytic grass contains beneficial fungi that deter leaf feeding insects like Chinch bugs, Sod webworm, and Cutworm.
- Ensure a balanced diet of nutrients / fertilizers. Feeding your lawn properly will ensure a healthy, robust lawn that can grow new roots and leaves faster than a minor insect infestation can eat them. A healthy lawn will also recover rapidly from any significant insect damage.