How to Identify Lawn Pests

Depending on what type of pests are destroying your yard, you will need different traps to catch them. Once you have them trapped, you can decide what kind of pest you have and what to do about them. Some small mammals do not have to be trapped in order to identify them. You can distinguish what they are by the damage they have done.

A good way to identify burrowing insects is to measure out a one foot square piece of sod. Try to select a piece that is only partially yellowed or browned. Typically, the offenders will have moved on to the next piece of healthy sod to eat the roots there. Using a shovel, dig up the square of grass and soil. Make sure you go a minimum of two inches below the grass level, and four inches is even better. Overturn the square of sod onto a large tarp or piece of cardboard and probe into the roots. You should find some earthworms, and you may also find small black bugs, called chinch bugs, and grubs. Earthworms are a beneficial species, so try to replace them in the soil or in your compost heap. Grubs and chinch bugs are extremely destructive. Destroy all that you find by tossing them in a bucket of water and prepare to have your lawn sprayed to remove these problematic insects and insect larvae.


Glue traps are another way to find out what insects call your yard their home. A rat and mouse glue trap, weighted down to prevent it from flying away, will attract and catch a wide variety of crawling and flying insects. You are most likely to catch crickets, chinch bugs, grasshoppers and beetles that you can then identify. The occasional moth and butterfly can get stuck to the trap, so it’s a good idea to only leave them out for about 24 hours.

To check for a variety of invasive cutworms and larvae, mix about 2 teaspoons of dish liquid into a gallon of water. Pour it onto a poor-doing one-foot square section of your lawn, and wait for creatures to float to the surface. This method will usually yield a variety of crawling and burrowing insects and insect larvae.

Once you have used these methods to identify what pests are destroying your lawn, you can work with a lawn care professional or exterminator to develop a plan. Getting rid of lawn pests can be an intensive process and require a significant time and monetary investment. Knowing what pests you have that are doing the most damage can help you concentrate your resources on the most damaging pests.