Two-lined spittlebugs 09-15-08
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Occasionally there are outbreaks of lawn insects that are not the predictable annual problems like chinch bugs, armyworms, or white grubs. The two-lined spittlebug, a small 3/8 in. wedge-shaped brown to black insect (with reddish eyes and legs having two very distinguishing reddish-orange bands across their wings), is one such insect.
Another tell-tale sign of their presence and their namesake is the conspicuous masses of frothy white spittle formed down into the canopy of the turf by the young nymphs as they feed on the turf.
Spittlebugs can cause sporadic damage to all warm season turf species by sucking juices from the turfgrasses with their needle-like mouthparts, but centipede lawns are the most common host. The result is weakened, stressed turf that turns yellow then brown and even death in severe feeding cases. The damage appears as small patches of wilted, stunted, or dead grass.
Two-lined spittlebugs are usually more prevalent in years with high spring and summer rainfall or to lawns that are over irrigated. The best way to monitor for this pest is to search for the spittle masses down in the turf canopy. Insecticides such as carbaryl lambda-cyhalothrin, cyfluthrin, and permethrin are labeled for spittlebug control. Liquid applications work better than granular formulations. Mowing and irrigating just prior to an insecticide application will aid in control, but do not irrigate for at least 24 hours after an application.
Published September 15, 2008
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. email@example.com