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Surface-Feeding Insect Program

What are Surface-Feeding Insects?

Surface-Feeding Insects are insects that, live above the soil, feed on, and kill grass. These are insects that most people have never heard of, or even seen (they are very small and hard to detect). But, they can demolish a lawn very quickly. Some of the more common ‘surface-feeders’ are Chinch Bugs, Sod Webworm, Armyworm, Bluegrass Billbug and Hunting Billbug.  All of these insects can can wipe-out the healthiest lawn in no time by either chewing or sucking the juices out of the plants.


Two areas of a lawn that were damaged by Chinch Bugs. This lawn was beautiful 6-weeks before this picture was taken.


How Does the Surface-Feeding Insect Protection Program Work?

This program is designed to detect low levels of insect activity before noticeable damage occurs.  We will Inspect, Treat, and Repair your lawn as needed. You are covered for anything related to surface-feeding insects – start to finish.

Here is What Green Giant Will Do:


3-Yearly Inspections will be performed by a Green Giant Pest Control technician to determine if there are Surface-Feeding Insects (SFIs) in your lawn. These inspections are generally completed in May, July & September – with occasional variations based on weather patterns.

While this is a Lawn Care Program, our Pest Control department performs these inspections – due to their expertise in finding hard-to-find pests. Our pest control techs are like Sherlock Holmes!


When Surface-Feeding Insects are found, Green Giant will treat your lawn to eliminate the current population (at no additional charge)


Repair any damage caused by Surface-Feeding Insects (at no additional charge). In the event that your lawn is damaged by Surface-Feeding insects, Green Giant will repair your lawn. This work is performed by Aerating and Over-Seeding the damaged area(s).


Note: To qualify for our Surface-Feeding Insect Program, a customer must have a lawn care program that includes a preventative grub application.



The Surface Feeding Insect (SFI) Protection program is designed to allow Green Giant to detect low levels of insect activity prior to significant damage occurring. Once the pest has been detected, a curative treatment will be completed as part of the inspection program.



Surface-Feeding Insects VS. Grubs 

Surface-feeding insects feed on the parts of grass plants that are above the soil, hence the name, ‘surface-feeding’ insects.  Grubs live and feed below the surface – they eat the roots of the grass (and can do just as much damage as their surface-feeding friends). While both types of insects damage lawns, they are treated differently.


Do These Insects, Come Back Every Year?

The Magic 8-Ball says: “Highly Likely”.  Sod Webworms, Chinch Bugs and Billbugs will almost always come back if the food source (your beloved lawn) is still producing grass.  Army worms are more hit-or miss, depending on the weather – especially the winds that blow them from the southern part of the country to our area.

Even if you have had a thorough treatment to kill these insect populations on your lawn, many others from surrounding areas will be happy to devour your lawn again.


Will Grass Grow Back After a Chinch Bug Infestation?

If the infestation is identified early, and the lawn is promptly treated to kill the chinch bugs, the grass will most likely repair itself. (This is why the inspections are so important). If the grass is dead, the lawn will need to be aerated and re-seeded.


How do Surface-Feeding Insects Damage my Lawn?

In various ways – Here are two examples, Chinch Bugs are “piercing-sucking” insects. They pierce into the grass plant and suck out the moisture. To be even more nasty, they also inject a toxin into the plant.  Sod Webworms feed on the blades and other parts of the grass plant – they simply chew it off. In damaged areas, the lawn will look like it was scalped.  The small moths you sometimes see flying around when you walk across a lawn are the adult stage of the sod webworm.


What Causes Chinch Bugs in Lawns?

What attracts Chinch Bugs, Sod Webworms, Billbugs and other SFI’s to a lawn?  First and foremost, a lawn provides a very good source of food and habitat for these hungry bugs. Since the feeding kills the grass, they will continually move to adjacent areas to keep eating. A lawn also provides a good habitat for the insects to live – especially the thatch layer. This is why, an annual aeration is a very important part of a lawn care program. Chinch Bugs and Sod Webworm both also prefer sunny, hot locations.


Adult Chinch bugs are typically less than 1/8″ in size. Nymphs are 1/32″, making detection of this insect difficult. The image you see here has been magnified, as you may have noticed with the defined hand lines.



Was Surface-Feeding Insect control included in my lawn care program in the past?

In the past, preventative treatments were included in some of our lawn care programs to control SFI’s. However, due to governmental regulations, we can no longer treat SFIs, on a preventative basis. Preventative treatments are applied before turf-damaging insects are active and begin to feed on your lawn.

The regulations now require that the “target pest” is present prior to treating the lawn. As a result, the only way to determine if a treatment can be done is to perform inspections after the insects have developed a population that is identifiable – at which time there may already be some damage.

We no longer have the ability to prevent the damage before it occurs.  For these reasons, we developed this comprehensive SFI program which will minimize the chance of significant damage on our customer’s lawns and also provide treatments and repairs at no extra cost, while staying within the regulations.


All of our programs are based on the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which is an environmentally friendly and effective approach to controlling damaging insects, diseases and invasive plants. For more information about IPM click here.


Worried about Surface-Feeding Insects? Try Green Giant’s Surface-Feeding Insect Protection Program today!