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RHODESGRASS MEALYBUGS IN HOME LAWNS

S. Bambara, Extension Entomologist

CAUTION: These recommendations were developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.

RHODESGRASS MEALYBUG, Antonina graminis (Maskell), Pseudococcidae, HEMIPTERA.


mealy bugs in grassGeneral Information

This mealybug is sporadic and much more common in the Gulf states and lower tier states. It has a wide range of host grasses, however. Bermudagrass, St. Augustinegrass, tall fescue, and centipede-grass can be seriously injured.
Mealybugs typically feed under leaf sheaths, on nodes or in the crowns. They feed on plant sap with piercing-sucking mouthparts and disrupt the plant's vascular system which will interfere with water and nutrient uptake resulting in discoloration and wilt. Damage may be most noticeable during periods of drought or stress.
 
Stunting, thinning and death may result in a heavy infestation. Masses of waxy, white secretions may be noticed along with possible honeydew and sooty mold. Mealybug damage is often heaviest in sunny locations during hot, dry periods. It is an infrequent pest in North Carolina.

Biology

Mealybug females deposit 300-600 eggs in a cottony ovisac. Eggs hatch into crawlers within 1-3 weeks. Only females are known in parthenogenic Rhodesgrass mealybug. A generation may take 4-6 weeks depending upon temperature and location. There can be several generations per season.
Mealybugs can be detected at the base of stems and under leaf sheaths. Look for tiny white cottony masses, honeydew, sootymold and ant activity.

Control

Try to maintain healthy turf, collect and destroy clippings. Choice of turf cultivar can make a significant difference. (See Reinert & Vinson, below). Pesticides such as Talstar, Tempo or Scimitar can be applied by certified applicators, but thorough coverage is needed and a surfactant is often helpful. Though we have not tested it, imidacloprid (Merit) is effective on other mealybugs should be effective and is available to homeowners. It may be used because the turf site is on the label. Sevin may also be used. It might be best to rotate chemical choices. We have no reliable thresholds, so treatment should be based on the seriousness of the population, damage, time of year, weather, type of grass and general good judgement. It might be unrealistic to think that they can ever be completely erradicated from a lawn.

Eileen A. Buss, assistant professor, Entomology and Nematology Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611 donated the above picture.

Links of interest:

http://ipm.ncsu.edu/AG268/html/rhodesgrass_mealybug.htm
Parasites of Rhodesgrass mealybug
Preference among Turfgrass Genera and Cultivars for Colonization by Rhodesgrass Mealybug, Antonina graminis (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae). 2010. James A. Reinert and S. Bradleigh Vinson. Southwestern Entomologist. Vol. 35, No. 2. pg(s) 121–128. [Abstract]

Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical.

Other Resources

For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.

© 2003 NC Cooperative Extension Service


ENT/ort-127 January 2003
Web page last reviewed January, 2011 by the webperson.