Small white bugs in my lawn

amoncurAugust 19, 2014

As summer has moved on, I've noticed an increasing amount of these tiny white bugs in my lawn. You only see them when you walk through the grass and they start jumping all over to get out of the way. See the attached picture. I am in Arizona.

What are these things, and what can I do to get rid of them? It seems like every summer they come back.

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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

If they are not eating your lawn, then ignore them. I've seen white hoppy things for 50 years and never seen any damage.

Just because you see an insect, that doesn't mean you have to eradicate it. A big class of beneficial critters that live in your soil are insects. If you spray or apply an insecticide, then you have to wait for the beneficial insects to repopulate and bring your soil back to good health.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 6:51PM
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amoncur

Anyone have an idea of what these bugs are and how to get rid of them?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 6:27PM
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morpheuspa

Leafhopper? While they technically do damage, it's usually nothing much and they can be ignored. In the case of extremely high numbers, control may be required.

Insecticidal soap will take them out, but I generally don't recommend the use of it as it also wipes out other beneficial insect populations. To my knowledge, there is no specific cure.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2014 at 7:11PM
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amoncur

Thanks for identifying these! Too bad there is no cure....they are everywhere.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 4:37PM
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amoncur

Is there a specific Insecticidal soap product that you would recommend?

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:05PM
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morpheuspa

Neem oil would work, and you can get a bottle of concentrate at Home Depot or any other big box store. Just follow the mixing instructions and apply per label instructions.

Safer brand insecticidal soap is usually available at big box stores as well. The concentrate bottle isn't expensive and again, mix according to instructions and apply.

There are plenty of recipes online for making your own insecticidal soap, and they do work (I generally whip up my own on the rare occasions that I need one for the cannas). In this particular case, it's critical to use an actual soap and not a detergent--shampoos are a detergent, not a soap, as are most liquid soaps.

I'm a soap maker by hobby, so I always have tons of actual soap kicking around and laying hands on a pure Castille soap isn't more than the work of a moment. So for most people, making insecticidal soap is possible and workable (and cheaper than buying it), but not necessarily easy...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:32PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The brand of insecticidal soap isn't really important, but do read the label carefully to make sure that there are no added ingredients. I've seen a pyrethrin and soap mixture, for example.

I prefer a commercial product both for myself and as a recommendation to others. It's manufactured strictly for the purposes intended, has clear instructions for mixing, and warnings about certain plants that should never be sprayed with a soap or other environmental conditions that can cause plant damage.

The commercially produced stuff is more effective than a homemade concoction, and far less likely to cause tissue damage when the directions are followed.

So, the brand doesn't really matter. Just be a label reader.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:14PM
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amoncur

Thanks, I will look for an insecticidal soap, or try concocting one of my own. As a side, I was at Home Depot yesterday and one of the workers recommended I try one of their insecticides (not a soap). I applied it yesterday and today it seems there are still plenty of the leaf jumpers (if that is what they are). So, on to the soap.....

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:22PM
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amoncur

morpheus, you mention a castille soap. I have a gallon of dr. bronners peppermint pure castille soap. Would that work?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 2:36PM
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morpheuspa

>>morpheus, you mention a castille soap. I have a gallon of dr. bronners peppermint pure castille soap. Would that work?

No. Not because of the Castille, but because of the peppermint. It's a wide-spectrum insecticide, miticide, and fungicide. Talk about World War III in the soil!

It's unwise to mix your own unless you know exactly what you're doing and what all the interactions will be (as well as on which plants it can--and can't--be used). You can find plenty of pre-mixed insecticidal soaps at Home Depot or Lowe's, or whatever your local big box store is.

One consideration is also that the season for leafhoppers (and most other insects) is coming to an end. Once first frost hits, they're severely reduced in numbers.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 2:58PM
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amoncur

Thanks so much, morpheus! I just purchased this product on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00192AO90/ref=pe_385040_30332200_TE_item

I'm in Phoenix so it'll be a while before first frost....the numbers of these little white devils is so high I can't walk through without my legs being molested by the hordes :)

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 3:12PM
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morpheuspa

That should do it. Soaps like this are unique in that if you don't spray the insect, it won't die. Although contact exposure, if sufficiently covered, may kill them, it's rare.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2014 at 5:23PM
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