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Chinch bugs, overwatering can ruin a lawn

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   Close-ups of chinch bugs, which may be cause of brown spots.
Close-ups of chinch bugs, which may be cause of brown spots.

aghu@ifas.ufl.edu

Q: My yard is sodded with old St. Augustine grass and every year during the cool months it develops some brown patches. How can I remedy this situation?

D.W., via e-mail

A: First, check your irrigation system. The brown spots may be due to poor water distribution. Normally, we don’t see turf-grass disease problems in the winter unless the lawn is overwatered or watered in the evening before 2 a.m.

You can look for chinch bugs. Remove the top and bottom of a used coffee or soup can. Push the can into the grass where the lawn is yellowing but not dead. Fill with water plus a few drops of liquid soap. If your lawn is declining due to chinch bugs, you’ll see small black and white insects floating. You’ll need to repeat this in several areas in your lawn.

Go to University of Florida websites such as http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu or ”solutions for your life” to find information on lawn care and how to treat for garden problems.

If you suspect the lawn is diseased, you’ll need to take a sample to the UF Plant Diagnostic Clinic in Homestead for the pathologist to look for causal organism. There is a fee and specific instructions about how to take a sample, so please visit their website, http://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/clinic/index.shtml

Adrian Hunsberger is an entomologist/horticulturist with the UF/IFAS Miami-Dade Extension office. Write to Plant Clinic, 18710 SW 288th St., Homestead, FL 33030; e-mail aghu@ifas

.ufl.edu

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