As homeowners and commercial turf managers continue to improve on turf quality, there is a fairly new pest that can deliver major set backs in lawns if not inspected for. Those that specialize in turf management know that The Hunting billbug is becoming more prevalent in West Tennessee and the devastation this pest can leave behind in lawns is often times detrimental. The Hunting Billbug causes extensive turf damage and is commonly found in warm season grasses such as Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, St. Augustinegrass, Centipedegrass, and Bahiagrass. Like with all lawn pest, identification is always the first step to finding a solution to your lawns problem. We are currently seeing activity wide-spread thorughout West Tennessee and parts of Missouri and a quick check of your lawn could save you a tremendous amount of head ache in the long run. The Hunting Billbug is VERY difficult to identify in Tennessee lawns due to the fact that they generally attack warm season grasses soon before the turf goes dormant. Therefore, homeowners and even lawn care specialists can think the lawn is drought stressed, going dormant, or having white grub or other insect damage that is causing the lawn to turn brown in the fall. Therefore, with our current weather conditions being dry and our warm season grasses about to go dormant, it sets up the perfect storm for billbugs and other turf pest to wreak havoc.
Preventative treatments are available to help protect your lawn from this unwanted pest. There has been one generation per year reported in a few states. The adult stage of The Hunting Billbug is a type of weevil and has a snout that is used to feed and chew notches out of the leaves of the turf grass. This stage of The Hunting Billbug is easier to notice because it is when the pest are easier to see (but still small) as well as its damage. The adult will lay its eggs on the small feeding scar tissue at the crown of the plant. The stage that is most dangerous to turf is the larvae stage after the eggs hatch. In this stage, damage from The Hunting Billbug is generally noticed by yellowing patches in small areas of the lawn (resembling the turf disease known as dollar spot) but will increase in size and eventually coalesce (grow together). The larvae penetrates into the tender tissue and blocks or prohibits nutrients from freely moving throughout the plant, therefore damaging or even killing the turf grass.
Here are a few things to consider if you want to check your west Tennessee lawn for The Hunting Bill bug or other harmful insects.
- Perform a “tug” test. If bill bugs or mole crickets are the culprit of the damage, the turf should easily pull right up.
- Look for damage or feeding evidence at the base of the stem of your turf grass. Identifying the correct pest is critical.
- Dig in the top layer of the soil and crown of plant and do your own thorough inspection.
- Perform a soap test in order to bring turf pest to the surface, where they can be identified. This consists of mixing 5-6 tablespoons of dish washing liquid in a 2 gallons sprinkling can of water. Pour soapy liquid over a 4 square foot area observing for several minutes.
If you think your lawn may be getting attacked by The Hunting Billbug or other turf pest and are uncomfortable in determining its identification, call a professional immediately. Here at 4-Evergreen, we will be happy to get you more information on what you can do to prevent turf pest or what it would take to make your lawn beautiful and weed free.
For more information, please call our office.
Have a great week!