What’s the Deal with Billbugs?

billbug grub in dirt

No homeowner wants to discover pests lurking in their grass, but especially not ones that cause significant damage to their lawn’s overall health! You may have noticed adult billbugs crossing your sidewalk or driveway during late spring or summer. Female billbugs cut small holes in the stems of plants and grasses to lay their eggs, but young billbug grubs are the most damaging.

What are Billsbugs?

Billbug grubs are cream-colored and legless with a brown head. Fully grown, they’re about ½ inch long. They feed on the underground root system and crown of your grass, killing individual blades at the soil surface. An infestation can kill off your grass and invite other mammals that cause damage to grass when feeding on grubs. There are two common types of billbugs—bluegrass billbugs and denver billbugs.

Bluegrass Billbug

The bluegrass billbug hides in protected areas, like covered areas near the foundation of your home or the cracks between your grass and your sidewalk. These billbugs lay eggs in May, June, and July—hatching and causing damage to your lawn in June and July.

Denver Billbug

 While the bluegrass billbug emerges once a year, the life cycle of the Denver billbug is a little more complicated. Some insects will hibernate as adults, but most of them remain in the larval stage and feed throughout the spring. Eggs are laid throughout the growing season, peaking in June and July.

Signs of a Billbug Problem

Surprisingly, a billbug infestation is most common on a new lawn, especially one that was established using sod. Most homeowners facing a billbug infestation will start noticing patches of wilting or dead grass. A particularly severe infestation can kill off entire sections of your lawn.

It can be easy to mistake billbug damage for other lawn diseases or drought stress.

How to Stop Billbugs

While other environmental factors like birds, hunting wasps, or the presence of certain funguses or parasites can have an impact on the presence of billbug larvae, controlling them is quite challenging!

Many homeowners wait too long – insecticides are less effective in controlling billbugs in their larval stage, as they are protected within the grasses in your lawn. Older larvae are protected in the root zone, where insecticides can’t reach!

The best way to control billbugs in Colorado is to apply liquid control methods in early May, killing adult billbugs before they lay their eggs.

Once billbug larvae have been effectively destroyed, there is still a chance to save a damaged lawn. Water and fertilize your grass to stimulate new growth. You may need to reseed or re-sod sections of your lawn.

Looking for help eliminating grubs in your lawn and nursing your lawn back to health? Give American Turf & Tree Care a call at 970-660-5510 today!

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