Insects & Other Pests ›
Hunting billbug adults measure .3-.4 inches in length and are black, charcoal gray, or brownish in color. The distinguishing characteristic for this species is a smooth, non-punctated Y-shaped area behind the head and parenthesis-like curved markings on the sides of the pronotum. They usually overwinter as adults or as partially mature larvae in the thatch, soil crevices, under mulch or leaf litter. The adults emerge from their overwintering sites as temperatures increase in the spring and will feed and mate. They are active at night and will feign death when disturbed. Damage by adults is most prominent in spring, but can also be seen in the fall. The adults will lay oblong, creamy white eggs from May into September. The eggs take 3-10 days to hatch. The larvae that hatch are white, legless and have a brown head capsule; they feed on the turfgrass stems and as they mature the crown, roots, and stolons. Larvae are most common from May to October. At full maturity, 3-5 weeks after egg hatch, the larvae measure .2-.4 inches in length. They will then pupate in the soil and 3-7 days later the adult hunting billbug emerges.
To control adult populations apply insecticides in spring when adults emerge from their overwintering sites, but before they lay their eggs. Treat no later than 3 weeks after adults become active. The use of insecticides for adult control includes bifenthrin (Talstar, Menace etc), deltamethrin (Deltagard), lambda-cyhalothrin (Scimitar or Battle), or imidacloprid (Merit). The use of insecticides for larval control includes clothianidin (Arena) or thiamethoxam (Meridian). The use of 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. Applications in the spring are preventative and should only be made on sites with a history of hunting billbugs. To control larval populations apply insecticides 6 weeks after the adults become active. At this point the larvae are in the root zone and are the most vulnerable. Be sure to water the insecticide in after application to insure insecticide movement through the thatch.