Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mud Tubes All Over My Lawn

Every summer, and especially in drier years, we start to see little tubes or mud tunnels all over our lawn or pastures. If you break them open you may find small darkish insects, similar to ants or teeny tiny beetles. These are actually termites. Agricultural or Desert Termites. And probably the best termites you could ever want to have! These termites do not feed on wood and are not considered structural pests like what comes to mind when we think of termites.

Agricultural Termites are mainly agricultural pests. They feed on forbes, roots, and other types of grasses. They usually only go after dead grasses, but it may seem like they are killing your lawn. Chances are, they are going after the dead grass blades, but taking out anything they can eat.

In an urban or semi-urban area, there is little you can do to control them. Rake over their tubes daily, spray them with water, basically irritate them until they leave your yard. If you spray them, remember that you are only killing the ones you touch and you'll be wasting a lot of time, money, and pesticide. Not to mention, exposing the environment to unnecessary pesticides.

When we get a little more rain (over a long period of time), expect to see them disappear. As the roots travel back deeper in the soil, so will the termites.

You notice that only unhealthy lawns seem to have them. This is because that grass has strong, deep roots, and the termites get all they need below ground. As the roots shrink to look for moisture, termites travel up with them - ending up on top of the lawn.

As with all insects, patience is a virtue.

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