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Hunting Billbug Adults Increasing in Number and Activity

August 8, 2013
by Rick Brandenburg

A field with damage from hunting billbugs
billbug damage on turf
An adult billbug walking on grass
Adult Billbug
Various sizes of hunting billbug larvae on a penny for scale (they are much smaller than it)
Hunting billbug egg, small, medium, and large larvae
A field with damage from hunting billbugs
Hunting billbug damage on warm-season turfgrass
Hunting billbug life cycle
Life Cycle
Diagram of hunting billbug soil inhabitance by life stage
Range of Inhabitance in soil profile
Diagram of hunting billbug life stage by time of year
Images/Seasonal Occurance

Hunting billbugs are becoming active again North Carolina and have begun feeding and laying eggs. Egg laying typically occurs from May- October and larvae hatch in 3-10 days. We would expect billbug larvae to be present in mid-June through July. In North Carolina billbugs typically feed on bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and seashore paspalum. Damage caused by feeding of adult hunting billbugs becomes most apparent in late spring and again in late summer. Damage caused by hunting billbugs occurs on the surface as irregular, elongated, or rounded areas of brown and dying grass. Symptoms usually occur in early spring and summer. If you need help monitoring billbug populations please contact Diane at desilcox@ncsu.edu.

Preventative applications for hunting billbug adults and larvae should be made now to reduce population numbers this fall. Billbugs are active at night so applications should be made late in the day. The use of synthetic insecticides for adult control includes bifenthrin (Talstar, Menace etc), deltamethrin (Deltagard), lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar or Battle), or imidacloprid (Merit). The use of synthetic insecticides for larval control includes clothianidin (Arena) or thiamethoxam (Meridian). The use of synthetic insecticides for both adults and larval control include chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn), clothianidin + bifenthrin (Aloft), or imidacloprid + bifenthrin (Allectus, Atera). Check the label for rates and application methods. To target the larval generations be sure to water the insecticide in after application to insure insecticide movement through the thatch.