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Pest Information

Billbug

Billbug

  • Latin Name: Sphenophorus spp.
  • Common Name: Billbug
  • Other Names: Bluegrass billbug

Pest Details

Billbug

Origin:

These are native insects in North America.

Biology:

Several species of billbugs in this genus are important pests of turf. An eastern species is a major pest of Kentucky bluegrass, as well as feeding on ryegrass and fescue, and two western species tend to be pests more often on zoysiagrass and bermudagrass turf. Early stage larvae feed within the grass stems and then move to the soil as older larvae, feeding there on the roots. Adult females deposit eggs directly into the stems from early spring through the summer months. There is one generation per year. The adult beetles also feed on turf, and in the fall move into leaf litter or thatch to overwinter. They also may end up inside structures for the winter.

Identification:

Adult beetles are about 3/8 inch long and have a relatively long, stout, curved snout with the antennae arising from the base of the snout. Depending on the species their color is brown to dark brown to gray, often with striping down the top side of alternating light and dark colors. Their exoskeleton is very smooth and devoid or hairs. Larvae are white with dark heads and no legs, and tend to be slightly curved and “hump-backed”.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Spring applications of residual contact insecticides will be most effective, killing the emerging adult beetles before they are able to deposit many eggs in the grass stems. The adult beetles become active once daytime temperatures exceed 60 degrees. If necessary summer applications also can be made.

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