Answer: It is really difficult to diagnose a turfgrass problem without actually being able to inspect the site. Bermudagrass tolerates a wide range of environmental conditions and survives in nature where fertility and rainfall are adequate and winter temperatures are not too low. Bermudagrass does have numerous pest problems, however.
Serious insect pests that feed on the foliage of bermudagrass include armyworms, cutworms, sod webworms, bermudagrass mites and Rhodegrass scale (mealybug). The latter two insects cause damage by sucking juices from the stems and stunting normal growth of the grass. White grubs can severely damage bermudagrass by feeding on grass roots. Nuisance type insects found on bermudagrass include chiggers, ants and ticks.
Under good management bermudagrass can tolerate low populations of most of these insects. Where insect populations are high enough to cause significant damage, biological and chemical methods may be required. Some species of white grub can be controlled with milky spore disease, a biological control that effectively controls white grub populations. Baccilus thuringensis is a biological control for armyworms, cutworms and sod webworms. And, Neodusmetia sangwai, a fly-like parasite, has effectively eliminated the Rhodegrass mealybug in Texas. Where these biological controls are not effective, chemicals can be used together with these cultural and biological controls to reduce insect populations to an acceptable level.
Several serious disease organisms and nematodes also attack bermudagrass turf. Dollar spot, spring dead spot, leaf spot, brownpatch and Pythium are all fungus diseases that attack bermudagrass turf. Several species of nematodes also cause significant damage to bermudagrass turf.
So you can see, we have a lot of things to consider when trying to diagnose the problems with your turfgrass. If it were my lawn, I'd take samples of the turf, including the roots, to a local cooperative extension office for expert diagnosis. Helpful folks there can suggest control measures. Contact Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Robert (Skip) Richter, Director, 1600-B Smith Road, Austin, TX, 78721,
Phone: (512) 854-9600. Good luck with your lawn!
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