Billbugs are insects common to the treasure valley and can cause severe damage to your lawn. Adult billbugs are weevils or snout beetles shown here:
It is important to know that in their adult form, billbugs do not cause any significant damage to lawns. Adults overwinter, and as spring temperatures rise, around mid-May, mated females will begin to lay eggs in plant stems. 7-14 days later, a white, legless, brown-headed larvae shown below emerge and begins to feed on stems, roots and crowns. The effect of this feeding is often very destructive to your lawn. In late June through late August or early September the damage becomes very evident, and control options are much more difficult at that time.
It is very difficult (read: impossible) to predict if you will have a billbug problem in your lawn. Since they only become evident only after they’ve wrought destruction, prevention is definitely the best medicine. That why we recommend 2 applications of a systemic insecticide applied in May-June will successfully prevent a billbug infestation for the remainder of the growing season. Larva that feed on treated turf grass will die quickly, and your lawn will be protected from a billbug infestation throughout the remainder of the billbug season.
If you are one of the unfortunate ones that didn’t get an early season treatment performed, here are some keys to detecting an infestation.
- A typical observation about a billbug infestation is that unlike a watering issue that tends to show up in a more general area, billbug damage in your lawn will show more spotty.
- Go to a place in your lawn where the unhealthy grass meets the healthy grass. Most times it is possible to simply peel back a section to reveal the roots of the grass and the dirt below. Now look for billbug larva. They are easy to spot: They are white, and about an eighth of an inch long.
- Sometimes the turf doesn’t peel back so easy with just your hand, so here is another tip. Take an old knife that you don’t mind digging in the dirt with and cut the turf into an open-ended square (about 8-10 inches square) to make it easier to pull up.
- Sometimes you need to look in 3 or 4 areas to detect billbug larva
If you want to prevent a billbug infestation, or have a current one, give us a call. Estimates are free and easy!