Turfgrass-Billbug

Includes
Bluegrass billbug (Sphenophorus parvulus)
Denver billbug (S. cicatristriatus)

Hunting billbug (S. venatus)

Phoenician billbug (S. phoeniciensis)

Pest description and crop damage Adults are about 0.375 inch long, black, with a distinct snout. They lay eggs in late spring. Larvae are white with a brown head, and about 0.25 inch long when mature. Larvae generally reach damaging size by midsummer. Larvae feed on grass roots, cutting them off. Damage often shows up as irregular patches of drought-stressed turf. Kentucky bluegrass most commonly is attacked by billbug larvae. However, tall fescue, perennial rye, and chewings fescue and annual bluegrass are also susceptible. Billbugs cause problems mainly in eastern Oregon, central Washington and Idaho, especially around Ontario-Baker City and Boise-Twin Falls, and also occasionally from La Grande into the Columbia Gorge. More recently modest billbug damage has been observed in the Portland area near Tualatin and also in western Washington near Seattle. The species involved have not yet been identified. The Denver billbug appears to be primarily located in eastern Idaho.

Biology and life history Bluegrass billbugs overwinter as adults. Eggs are laid on grass stems in May or June and hatch in about 2 weeks. As the larvae mature, they move from the crown of the plant deeper into the soil where they feed on roots. There is one generation per year. The Denver and hunting billbugs have a similar life cycle but may lay eggs for a longer period of time resulting in larvae that overwinter in the soil. Damage from these species can occur much earlier in spring than damage from bluegrass billbug. Perennial ryegrasses, fine fescues, and tall fescues with high levels of endophytic fungi are resistant to billbugs.

Management-biological control

  • beneficial nematodes-Read label carefully for application procedures, timing and appropriate soil temperatures for best efficacy.

Management-chemical control: HOME USE

Treat the entire lawn, not just affected areas. Spring applications when adults first become active may prevent larval populations from building to damaging levels. Do not permit children or pets on the treated lawn until it has been watered to wash the insecticide into the turf and the grass is completely dry. Most insecticides are toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or to residues on blooming weeds/ flowers in lawns: mow and remove clippings prior to applying insecticides.

  • azadirachtin (neem oil) -Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • Beauvaria bassiana-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • bifenthrin
  • carbaryl
  • chlorantraniliprole
  • deltamethrin
  • fenvalerate
  • gamma-cyhalothrin
  • imidacloprid
  • lambda-cyhalothrin
  • malathion
  • plant essential oils (clove, mint, peppermint, etc.)-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • pyrethrins

Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL USE

Treat the entire turfgrass stand, not just affected areas. Spring applications when adults first become active may prevent larval populations from building to damaging levels. Do not permit children or pets on the treated turfgrass until it has been watered to wash the insecticide into the turf and the grass is completely dry. Most insecticides are toxic to bees exposed to direct treatment or to residues on blooming weeds/ flowers in lawns: mow and remove clippings prior to applying insecticides.

  • azadiractin (Azasol, Azatin, Azaguard Botanical Insecticide/Nematicide, Gordons Pro T&O Azatrol EC Insecticide, Ornazin 3% EC Botanical Insecticide, Neemix 4.5 IGR)-OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • Beauvaria bassiana GHA (Botanigard ES, Botanigard 22WP)-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • beta-cyfluthrin (Tempo SC Ultra Insecticide, Tempo Ultra GC Insecticide, Tempo Ultra WP Insecticide, Tempo Ultra WSP Insecticide)
  • bifenthrin (Talstar GC Granular Insecticide, Talstar PL Granular Insecticide Talstar S, Select Insecticide, Onyx Pro Insecticide, Actishield, multiple label names)-For adults.
  • bifenthrin + imidacloprid (Allectus G Insecticide, Atera 2+1 SC Insecticide, Atera GC 2+1 SC Insecticide, Bithor SC)-Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been banned from use on public properties in some towns and counties (check with local authorities).
  • carbaryl (Sevin Brand RP4 Carbaryl, Lebanon Sevin 7G Granular Insect Control, Sevin SL Carbaryl Insecticide)
  • chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn Insecticide, Acelepryn G Insecticide)-For larvae.
  • chlorpyrifos (Andersons Golf Products Insecticide III, Dursban Pro, Dursban 50W In WSP Speciality Insecticide, Hatchet Insecticide, Nufos 4E Insecticide, Vulcan, Quali-Pro Chlorpyrifos 4E Insecticide, Warhawk, Warhawk Clearform)-For adults. Retail sale of products containing chlorpyrifos for residential use ended 12/31/01.
  • clothianidin (Arena 0.25G Insecticide, Arena, 50 WG Insecticide, Arena 50 WDG Insecticide)-For adults or larvae. Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been banned from use on public properties in some towns and counties (check with local authorities).
  • clothianidin + bifenthrin ( Aloft GC G Insecticide, Aloft GC SC Insecticide, Aloft LC G Insecticide, Aloft LC SC Insecticide)-Restricted use.
  • cyfluthrin (Tempo WP Insecticide, Tempo 20WP Golf Course Insecticide in WSP)-For adults.
  • deltamethrin (Deltagard G Insecticide, D-Fense SC Insecticide)-For adults.
  • dinotefuran (Zylam)-Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been banned from use on public properties in some towns and counties (check with local authorities).
  • esfenvalerate (Fenvastar Ecocap)-Keep away from water sources. Not for use on sod farms or golf courses.
  • esfenvalerate + prallethrin + piperonyl butoxide (Onslaught FastCap Spider and Scorpion Insecticide)
  • imidacloprid (Adonis 2F Insect Conc., AmTide Imidacloprid, Avatar PLX Insecticide, Lesco Bandit 0.5G Granular Insecticide, Lesco Bandit 2F Insecticide, Lesco Bandit 75 WSP Insecticide, Malice 0.5G, Malice 2F Insecticide, Malice 75WSP, Mallet 0.5G Insecticide, Mallet 2F Insecticide, Mallet 2F T&O Insecticide Mallet 75 WSP Insecticide, Mallet 7.1% PF Insecticide, Merit 0.5G Insecticide, Merit 2F Insecticide, Merit 75WP Insecticide, Merti 75WSP Insecticide, Midash 2SC T&O, Prokoz Zenith 0.5G Insecticide, Prokoz Zenith 2F Insecticide, Quali-Pro Imidacloprid 0.5G, Quali-Pro Imidacloprid2F T&O, Quali-Pro Imidacloprid 75 WSB Insecticide in WSP)-For larvae. Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been banned from use on public properties in some towns and counties (check with local authorities).
  • gamma-cyhalothrin (Scion Insecticde, Optimate CS)
  • lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar, Demand CS Insecticide, Demand EZ Insecticide, Demand G Insecticide, Cyonara 9.7 Insecticide, Cyzmic CS Controlled Release Insecticide, Exile 9.7, Patrol Insecticide)-For adults.
  • mint oil, geraniol + oil of rosemary (Keyplex Ecotrol Plus Insecticide/Miticide, Essentria IC3 Insecticide)-OMRI-listed for organic use.
  • permethrin