Turf Damaging Insects in South Carolina

Blades of grass

Here in South Carolina, there are a lot of forces trying to damage our lawns including diseases and drought. But, none are more damaging or creepy as the myriad of insects that love the weather here in the Palmetto State as much as we do. Here are a few of the most destructive lawn pests in South Carolina.


Armyworms are actually caterpillars and they get their name from the way they march across your yard, devouring anything green in their path. On farms, these tiny lawn pests can obliterate thousands of dollars worth of crops in just a couple of days. 

Female moths can lay up to 2,000 eggs in your lawn, which hatch a few days later. The caterpillars start off green with a black head, then change to brown with white lines and a reddish-brown head. They feed only at night which is why the brown patches they make seem to appear and grow larger overnight. Armyworms are most active in late summer and early fall so check your fields or lawns carefully.

Fire Ants

Fire ants invade your lawn in great numbers, causing extensive damage to your Charleston, SC lawn. When you think of fire ants, the first thing that might come to mind is their painful stings, but that’s not the only problem with these pests. Fire ants are an invasive species from South America and have no natural predators here in the United States so they are free to spread, unopposed throughout the south. As they build their extensive tunnel systems, they feed on and disrupt the roots of your grass. Not to mention, the large mounds on the surface can smother your grass much like a molehill.

When their nests are disturbed, fire ants will attack in full force, striking with their burning stings. Keep in mind that one colony can contain hundreds of thousands to millions of ants.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are an infamous lawn pest here in South Carolina. Lawns infested by chinch bugs may appear as though they are suffering from drought. This is a side effect of chinch bugs feeding on your grass. They use their piercing mouthparts to extract moisture from grass blades and, as they do, they inject a substance that inhibits water movement inside the grass, causing the grass to die.

Your grass will first start to turn yellow, then brown, then eventually die. The chinch bugs move on to the next blades of grass, working outward, creating larger and larger patches of dead grass. You can easily check if chinch bugs are causing the problem by watering your grass. If it does not green up, then it’s probably chinch bugs.

Mole Crickets

Mole crickets are incredibly creepy lawn pests that can cause a lot of damage to your Charleston, SC lawn. One of the creepiest looking insects in South Carolina is the mole cricket. These unearthly-looking creatures look like they came straight from outer space to destroy our lawns. They have large front digging claws, like a mole, which they use to tunnel under the thatch in your yard. As they dig, they feed on and damage the roots of your grass. 

They love thick, long grass so a good way to control mole crickets is by keeping your grass short and aerate to break up the thatch layers where they hide.

Japanese Beetles & Grubs

Another very notorious pest in the Palmetto State is the Japanese beetle. These beetles can cause extensive damage to the foliage of your trees and shrubs as they feed at night. Sometimes infestations are so bad that you can hear the trees buzzing with beetles if you are near it. Come morning, and you’ll notice bare twigs and branches at the tops and edges of your trees. After they have had their fill, adults lay eggs in your grass. Eventually, they become adult grubs and feed on the roots of your grass in the spring and fall. In just a few seasons, grubs can decimate a lawn. 

To check for grubs in your yard, pull up the sod in affected areas, and check. If there are several grubs in a square foot of dirt, then it’s time to call the professionals before permanent damage is done.

Sod Webworms

You probably don’t even second guess the small grey moths that flutter about your grass when you disturb them. These moths aren’t a problem themselves, but their offspring are. The sod webworm can skeletonize grass blades and even cut them down. They pull the blades into their burrows to feed on as they mature into adults. If enough worms are present, your grass can take a lot of damage, which results in brown patches and bare spots.

Call the Lawn Pest Control Professionals

Don’t wait for your pest problem to become more than you can handle. Call in the professionals at Coastal Turf. Our lawn technicians are trained in battling these lawn pests and restoring order to your lawn and garden. We also provide a wide range of lawn care services to boost your curb appeal and give you a dazzling yard to show off to your friends and family.

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