Common Lawn and Tree Pests to Watch for in Upstate NY

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Once summer arrives, many of us look forward to enjoying time outside in our backyards, which can be hindered by a lawn that has become overrun by disease. With the warmer weather upon is, now is the time to be on the lookout for lawn and tree diseases that are common in Upstate NY.  If you’re not careful, fungi and insects can wreak havoc on your landscape, leading to months of treatment and repair.

Red Thread

Red Thread is a fungus that infects the thatch and soil of grass. Dry patches that are pink or reddish in color are caused by low levels of nitrogen in the soil. Thankfully, the Red Thread fungus does not infect the roots of the plant, meaning that your lawn will not die.

Red Thread is most active between late April and mid-June when nighttime temperatures are around 70 F. During this time, lawns are growing aggressively, using up most of the nitrogen in the soil.

While Red Thread does not kill grass, it’s still an unattractive disease that many people prefer to treat. Thatching your lawn every spring reduces the thatch in the lawn. Thatch tends to hold moisture around the grass blades promoting fungus and also restricts the water from penetrating to the root zone. We also recommend fertilizing your lawn with a nitrogen rich formula to strengthen the grass and promote growth.


Nutsedge, also referred to as nutgrass, is an aggressive and persistent weed that thrives in moist areas. Once Nutsedge is established, it can tolerate normal moisture levels or even drought. It can be recognized from its triangular or v-shaped stems which are stiffer than most grasses.

The presence of nutsedge often indicates that drainage is poor, irrigation is too frequent, or sprinklers are leaking. Installation and maintenance of a water-efficient irrigation service will keep your lawn properly watered year-round. If your lawn is overrun with nutsedge, it can be treated with postemergence herbicides.

Snow Mold

There are two types of snow mold: Typhula and Fuasarium Patch. Snow mold appears in circular patches in the spring as the snow melts from lawns. It is straw colored and will continue to grow as long as grass remains cold and wet from melting snow.

The fungi survive in the soil or thatch during the warmer months as hard fungus bodies called Sclerota. Active growth of the fungus resumes in the absence of light under snow cover or frozen ground. The snow mold may go away on its own but can also be treated for faster results!

To treat snow mold, rake the area to remove the infected grass and reseed any bare spots. Fertilize your lawn with a low-nitrogen, slow-release fertilizer. Nitrogen can promote snow mold growth so you should keep nitrogen use to a minimum.

Tent Caterpillars

Tent Caterpillars are native to New York, and while they’re harmless to people, they can cause damage to your trees. The caterpillars eat leaves during the spring and prefer fruit trees, including ornamental crabapples and pear. Many trees can handle defoliation for 2-3 years and continue to grow new leaves. However, defoliation reduces the trees resistance to pests and diseases. Tree mortality occurs when other stresses such as disease or other insect outbreaks attack trees in the same year.

Tent caterpillars can be spotted by a white line down their backs with light blue and black spots on their sides. They can be treated by removing egg masses, inhabited tents and pupa, and installing sticky tree wraps on trunks to capture the caterpillars as they move up and down trees. If the infestation is serious, an herbicide called Bt can be used to remove the Tent Caterpillars.

Contact Grasshopper Gardens

If your lawn is in need of professional help, contact Grasshopper Gardens today! Our experts will know exactly how to treat your lawn to return it to its natural beauty.