🕷️ Billbugs

Billbugs Overview

Billbugs are a broad category of species that infest grasses in residential lawn areas across the United States. Other types of grasses they are fond of are tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass and fine fescue. Not to mention that they love corns as well. Adult billbugs and nymphs both cause extensive damage to grasses as they start feeding in the stem working their way down the roots of turf grasses.

Identification

Adult billbugs are known as the weevil in the insect family. Most of them are 1/2 inch long making them difficult to find in turf however they tend to walk on the sidewalks when the temperature gets warm during spring. Depending on the species, the hard shells may be a gray, brown or black color with a rough texture on their back. They have 6 legs and antenna like most beetles do. Nymphs are usually white, no legs and with a brown capsule-shaped head.

Life Cycle

Unlike many other pests, billbugs complete only one generation annually but may vary depending on species. Adults spend their winter in decomposing leaves and dried plants most of the time before becoming active from April to May when the temperature becomes pleasant.

Adult female billbug lays oval-shaped eggs in the grass stem. After 1-2 weeks, legless white larvae hatch from the eggs. These nymphs will go through 3 larval instars in which the first two weeks will be spent feeding in the grass stems. In the second larval instars, the nymphs break out of the stem. The larval stage will be completed within 5-8 weeks and they will develop into pupae with around 1 to 2 inch long and changes color from white to brown. Adults emerge after 7 to 10 days and will continue feeding on host plants until they find a place to overwinter.

Signs & Damage

Billbugs feed on grasses and crops in the house garden. The damages arise when these insects puncture the stem to deposit eggs and suck the plant juices. Larvae eat the plant stems going through the roots that are below the soil. Damage is characterized by brown colored spots that do not turn green after being properly watered.

Damages caused by billbugs are difficult to determine as they are closely similar to drought damage or fungal disease. However, you can perform a test by pulling or digging the grass to examine the roots and crown also this will make the larvae noticeable.

Treatment

To control an infested lawn, you can use biological control products and organic insecticides to eliminate the billbugs in your yard. Another way is to use lawn care method that decreases the development of dry plants and improve the grass health likewise. If none of these methods works, calling a reputable pest controller is your way to go.

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