Turfgrass Pests

Identification and Management

One way to identify insect pests of turf is to categorize them by where they feed within the turfgrass environment. These insects fall into three categories:

  • insects that feed below ground
  • insects that chew turf foliage
  • insects that extract plant sap
  • other pests

Pests that damage turf in these categories include:

  • Insects that feed below ground include mole crickets, white grubs and billbugs.
  • Insects that chew turf foliage include armyworms, cutworms and sod webworms.
  • Insects that extract plant sap include aphids, chinch bugs and spittle bugs.
  • Other pests are fire ants, scale insects, mealy bugs, and cicada killers.

Common Turfgrass Pests in the Southeast

Sod webwormSouthern chinch bug
Fall armywormTwo lined splittlebug
Mole cricketsWhite grubs
Hunting billbugRhodesgrass mealybug
Sugarcane beetleMites

Larva, pupa, and damage caused by sod webworm. Photo: Steven Arthurs, University of Florida.

Sod Webworm

Herpetogramma phaeopteralis

Photo credit: Steven Arthurs, University of Florida

Fall Armyworm

Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) 

Photo credit: Steve L. Brown, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

Southern Chinch Bug

Blissus insularis Barber

Photo credit: David Shetlar, The Ohio State University, Bugwood.org

Two Lined Spittlebug

Prosapia bicincta (Say)

Photo credit: Clint Waltz, University of Georgia

Mole Crickets

Tawny mole cricket: Neoscapteriscus vicinus (Scudder)

Southern mole cricket: Neoscapteriscus borellii (Giglio-Tos) 

Photo credit: David Jones, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

White Grubs

Japanese Beetle, Chafers, May/June Beetle, Green June Beetle

Photo credit: Shimat V. Joseph, University of Georgia.

Hunting Billbug

Sphenophorus venatus vestitus (Chittenden) 

Photo credit: David Shetlar, The Ohio State University.

Rhodesgrass Mealybug

Antonina graminis Maskell

Photo credit: Shimat V. Joseph, University of Georgia

Sugarcane Beetle

Euetheola humilis (Burmeister)

Photo credit: C. Sorenson, North Carolina State University.

Mites in Turfgrass

Photo credit: Kyeong-Yeoll Lee.

Fire Ants

Solenopsis invicta Buren

Photo credit: Jake Farnum, Bugwood.org