Pests of Turf

Thee are many pests that can attack the health of your turf, here are a few.

African Black Beetle (Heteronychus arator)
Adult black beetles aret their worst in the spring every year. Damaging stems and roots of the grass from feeding would not be enough of a reason to control them by spraying but when they start to form mounds due to their tunneling especially on putting greens and bowling greens, where this could look unsightly then prevention and control is needed.


The Beetle mates and lays their eggs forming chambers under the turf also causing damage. The new generation of adults emerges from these chambers during late summer and autumn.

Most significant damage is caused to turf during mid-summer, this damage limits the plants' ability to take up water and nutrients, and extensive areas may brown and die off, particularly if moisture is less than adequate.

Argentinean Scarab (Cyclocephala signaticollis)

The Argentinean scarab beetle can be found all over Australia and is considered serious pest of recreational turf areas.


The adult beetle looks like the African black beetle, but is coloured a mid tan, with subtle striping on the wing carapaces.

Damage to grass is at its worse during December when Larvae are within the turf this can be made worse by feeding birds which tear the turf leaving it susceptible to increased numbers of Larvae as high as 350 per square metre.

Insects that live in thatch

Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda)
The fall armyworm is the larval stage of dull grey-brown moths which lay their eggs on the leaves of grass in large a large quantity. Tiny larvae hatch in about a week and within three weeks become full grown fall armyworms. These larvae get to about 1 ½ inches and are green in colour or brownish black with stripes.

They hide in the thatch during the day and feed at night, cutting off grass close to the crown. They can be detected by placing a wet hessian bag on the grass overnight and inspecting underneath in the morning.

Chewing along the edges of grass blades, the fall armyworm shreds back the grass and gives it an overall ragged appearance. In severe infestations, the grass can almost be chewed to the bare ground. Shortly after the larvae reach maturity, they tunnel several inches into the soil and start pupation which takes about ten days.
• There are several species of armyworms. The true armyworm (pseudaletia unipuncta ) looks very much like the fall armyworm, but lacks the inverted "Y", which appears on the head. It is found less frequently in turf, but can be extremely destructive when present.

Sod Webworms (Family Pyralidae)

The sod webworm is the larval state of the tan or buff-coloured lawn moth. As the moths fly, they drop eggs which hatch into larvae in just 6 to 10 days. The tiny larvae start feeding on grass blades and building silk-lined tunnels in thatch and debris near the soil surface. They feed on tender parts of the grass, and as they grow, their appetites increase. Soon entire plants can be destroyed and irregular patches of dead turf appear.

When mature, the sod webworm reaches a length of about ¾ inch. It is a dingy dull, tannish-brown, but occasionally some species take on a greenish cast.

The sod webworm is elusive and often evades detection, but many birds on the turf are a good indicator. The birds probe the drying turf with their beaks and leave behind a pattern of holes about the diameter of a pencil. Another sure sign of sod webworms is the material called frass. These greenish, course sawdust-like particles are formed by the webworm as it chews and feeds on the grass.