How to Get Rid of Insects Thinning Your Grass

Is your Kansas City area home’s grass beginning to thin? Insects may be the cause of this lawn care problem. Identification and control of damaging insects on lawns can be difficult unless you know what to look for and where to look. Lawn damaging insects can be classified into two distinct types. This helps make identification and control easier. Heritage Lawns & Irrigation put together a helpful classification of these insects.


Root feeding insects typically feed on the roots, often causing wilting and other drought-like damage.

White Grubs – The larvae of the common Junebug can cause considerable damage to lawns. Grub damage, when severe, can loosen the sod so it can easily be lifted up. Browning areas and sponginess can indicate grub damage. By lifting up the loosened sod, grubs are easily seen as “c” shaped whitish larvae. Control is best in the spring and summer when damage is evident.

Bluegrass Billbug – Rarer than grubs, Billbug damage often appears during the summer months through mid-August. Billbugs are small, 1/4 inch, blackish beetles, often found on hard surfaces in spring. Eggs are deposited on grass stems in spring and as larvae emerge, they feed on the stems then migrate to root systems causing irregular yellowing and browning areas in lawns. Control is recommended in May when adults are visible on hard surfaces.


Blade feeders typically cause damage by withdrawing the plant’s sap.

Aphids – Aphids, often called greenbugs, can quickly damage lawns in mid to late summer. Damage is typically seen as an orange-yellow area often found under trees. Aphids are very small, greenish insects that can be easily identified by simply sweeping your hand near the edge of the affected area. Control when damage is visible.

Sod Webworm – Adult webworms are the typical lawn moths that fly erratically near the grass. The larvae of these moths cause the damage. Damage occurs at night as the webworm larvae feed on the leaves and crowns of the grass. Sod webworms are just under an inch when fully grown and are light brown in color with darker spots. Chewed off leaves and sheaths and green pellets (excrement) in the thatch are signs of sod webworms. Thorough watering of damaged areas will cause worms to surface and are easily seen.


Ants – Ants do not damage lawns. They move into thin lawn areas but do not cause the thinning, so control is not recommended.

Nightcrawlers – Nightcrawlers are very beneficial to lawns. Lumpy soil can occur when nightcrawlers are in large numbers. When this occurs, vertical moving and/or dethatching can reduce lumps and help control the population. Other forms of control are not recommended or call us at (913) 451-4664 to discuss your situation.