A billbug is a type of bug that can be very detrimental to your lawn. An adult billbug is either grey or black and has a long snout that’s 1/3 of its length. The young ones are either cream or white and have a hardened head that’s reddish-brown in color. The young ones are legless and they move by pushing themselves the same way worms do.

Billbugs are problematic for many reasons. They are not easy to detect especially once they dig and hide under the roots. They eat the grass from inside out, from the roots to the tips. It’s easy to spot the adults and by then, it will be too late as the damage would have been done already.

Signs of billbug damage

It’s not easy to detect the signs of billbug damage. When the temperatures are warmer and the larvae have fed on the crowns, the grass will appear to be thinner and mottled. Since there will be very little rain, it’s easy to assume that the grass is weak due to lack of rain. In some cases, it can be mistaken for a fungal infection or dormancy of the grass.

To test your lawn for billbug damage, pull off grass in the affected area. Grass that’s been affected by billbugs will break off at the soil line and you will notice a lot of powdery sawdust-like dirt. Pull the grass apart or dig further to inspect its roots and crown and at this point, you should be able to see the legless larvae. If the problem isn’t identified early enough, the entire lawn can become infected and destroyed.

How to control lawn billbugs


The first thing you will need to do is to get to the roof of the problem by contacting a professional who will analyze your lawn. Knowing whether your lawn is infected with billbugs or not will help determine how you will treat it.

One of the best ways to control billbugs is to prevent their occurrence by keeping the lawn healthy and well maintained. Cut the grass regularly, keep it well fertilized and well-watered to prevent drought stress, and encourage new growth.

If your lawn is already infested, more stringent measures will be required to deal with them. One of the ways to carry out integrated pest management which involves the following:

  • Choosing grass that’s well adapted to your lawn
  • Proper mowing, fertilization, and watering
  • Thatch management
  • Turf cultivation

Besides the above, you can also use recommended pesticides. This can be done by targeting adult billbugs by applying insecticide that will kill them before they lay eggs. You can also kill the larvae by applying insecticide to them before they start causing harm. The curative option can be used to treat harm that’s already been caused and prevent further damage.

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