When Dean Bain woke up one morning and stepped outside into his garden, he was shocked to see a giant brown circle on his front lawn. "It appeared about 2 weeks ago, and it was rather overnight," he told Yahoo News Australia. " At first, I thought it was some local kids playing games with a chemical. However, the circle continues to grow".
At first, the almost perfect circle "was more of a thin-lined circle" but it's grown in size every day since it appeared. Sometimes, at various points of the day, and depending on the light, he notices a "very fine white web" around the rim.
Likely cause of sudden brown circle
The strange discovery at his home in Albion Park, near Shellharbour in NSW has left Bain perplexed and desperate for answers. "I am yet to conclude what it is. But I am thinking of a grass mite," he said.
Grass mites, or spider mites, are tiny eight-legged arachnids less than 0.5 mm long, making them barely visible to the naked eye. While present throughout the country, they're most problematic in areas with high heat and low humidity — mostly in eastern Australia — and can wreak havoc on your lawn.
"The first noticeable damage often happens in spring when the lawn fails to begin its normal growth in spite of plenty of water and fertiliser," says Stefan Palm, from South Australian-based company Paul Munns Instant Lawn. "The mites sit at the base of the blades of the grass where they attach to the runner (called the stolon) and suck the life from the grass. This results in the lawn failing to thrive."
Presence of web is a dead giveaway
A spokesperson from Lawn Solutions Australia confirmed to Yahoo News that "it looks like spider mites have caused the circle" on Bain's lawn. The presence of the web is often a giveaway Hasan Rahmani, an entomologist with the Victorian state government previously said.
"Sometimes, poor lawn maintenance can contribute to spider mite damage," he told Yahoo. "So mowing regularly and adding nutrients to the lawn could have helped. But now, if it is spider mites, the lawn can be sprayed with miticides three times over a fortnight to get on top of it and try to strengthen the lawn later on."
'Fairy ring' also a possible culprit, says expert
While Palm agrees the web makes it "looks like a spider mite", he said, "the circular doughnut pattern" looks more like a fungal issue called Fairy Ring — but it's most certainly one of the two.
"This can also leave a mycelium (web-like structure). There is no domestic fungicide available to treat fairy ring," he explained. "They generally start small and grow out (with the doughnut-shaped ring getting larger and larger), until you can't see it anymore.
"The centre section will in most instances recover as the fungus grows out. Lawns with fairy ring must be regularly treated with a liquid wetting agent as the remnants of the fungi leave the soil quite water-repellant."
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