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Insect Control: Tiny Threats to Your Landscape

Posted on: March 26th, 2015

With the arrival of spring, the grass is turning green, the trees are starting to leaf out and many of us are beginning to think about our landscapes. Everything outdoors will soon be beautiful, yet there may be a few “tiny” problems threatening your landscape.

Swingle’s experts are talking about tiny insects and pests, which can damage your lawn and trees, making the effort of maintaining your landscape a little bit harder.

Turf Mites:

Turf mites are the most destructive pests for Bluegrass lawns along the Front Range, and now is prime time for damage to occur. Most people mistakenly think dead turf appearing in late spring is the result of winter dryness. However, it’s most likely the cause of unchecked turf mite feeding. Mites are out on warmer days and will be an issue until irrigation systems are activated. It’s a good time to check for mite activity on south and west facing slopes near evergreens. Swingle’s Mite Reduction program helps keep mites from destroying your lawn. If you’re unsure if your property has turf mites, find out more information here.


Sod-Webworms are another damaging insect to lawns this time of year. In warmer, sun exposed areas (with thicker thatch levels) look for “pancake-sized” brown spots not greening up. If you dig up around the thatch layer near these dead spots, you will find fresh “frass” or chewed up green grass blades. You may also see a “silk tunnel” where the larva hangs out. This pest is not severely damaging, but to the lawn connoisseur it can ruin the appearance of a perfectly green lawn. To the untrained eye, if there are flocks of birds congregating and feeding on your lawn, there is a good chance a large population of insects are present.

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Lilac/Ash Borer:

April is the time to be mindful of Lilac/Ash Borer. This insect is entirely different from the Emerald Ash Borer. The Lilac/Ash Borer is very easy to control, but the timing is critical. Applications must be made by the first of May to be effective. Some areas of town have significant monocultures of Ash trees. Highlands Ranch, Parker, and Lone Tree have large populations of Ash. They are also predominant tree species in the northeastern part of Colorado along the I-85 corridor up to the Wyoming border including Brighton, Windsor, and Greeley. Localized Lilac/Ash Borer infestations can be aggressive killers and large populations can build to unhealthy levels in monocultures of Ash. Swingle provides treatment options for the Lilac/Ash Borer.


Soon leaves will be emerging on deciduous trees. During spring and late summer, higher populations of Aphid insects are found. Aphids are not harmful to tree health, but can be a nuisance. Aphids will exude a sweet and sticky residue called honeydew. This attracts hornets, which can be risky if children are playing in the near vicinity. Controlling aphid insects is no longer a simple process. Care must be taken to evaluate control methods and materials to reduce risk to pollinators such as honeybees. Swingle’s Treat & Inspect program helps keep aphids and other pests at bay.

Honeylocust Plant Bug:

By the time you see this bug it is generally too late.  Plant bugs tend to go after honeylocust about the time they are flowering.  In the early spring, young nymphs crawl into the plant buds and begin feeding. Due to the feeding damage, trees may not leaf out (if they do they typically experience leaf distortion, discoloration, and dwarfed leaflets). After the trees leaf out, the plant bugs are gone, but leafhoppers show up. People generally believe that leafhoppers are damaging the tree, but they really don’t do anything as the damage has already been done. Swingle offers an exclusive bee friendly solution through soil injections. Ask one of our experts about this treatment option.

Mealy Bug Insects:

Mealy bug insects are becoming an increasingly common pest amongst Hawthorns. Thornless Cockspur Hawthorns are very prone to mealy bugs. These insects are not easily controlled and control methods must be carefully thought out to reduce the risk to pollinators.
Controlling insects wisely requires a working knowledge of the pest’s life cycle. Knowing when an insect is most vulnerable is important when attempting to keep populations manageable. However, using any pesticide unwisely can cause damage to the environment. For best practices and treatment options, please call to schedule a free evaluation with a Swingle arborist- your local Landscape Care Consultant.

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