Masked chafers are among the hardest grub species to control and are among the most destructive insect pests that turfgrass professionals must contend with each season.
Recognizable by the distinctive black stripe or mask across their eyes and face, the larvae of these small brown beetles (10-15 mm long depending on the species) feed on the roots of turfgrass. These larvae can become very large, and when present in large numbers can devastate a lawn.
Oftentimes the extent of the damage they can do does not appear until mid-summer when the soil dries and turfgrass growth slows. Only then does the grass, deprived of much of its root mass, turn brown and die. In most cases, all you have to do is tug on the damaged turfgrass and easily lift it from the soil to see the larvae.
If the damage that chafers do by themselves do weren’t enough, skunks, raccoons and birds sometimes tear up lawns looking for the masked chafer larvae to munch on.
A recent article in the Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) offers fascinating insights into the five species of masked chafers found on U.S. lawns in different regions of the United States and Canada and ongoing research to control them, in addition to using synthetic insecticides.
The article in the JIPM focuses on the use of entomopathogenic fungi when paired with chemical insecticides in controlling masked chafers.
For a fascinating look at this turfgrass-destroying pest (all five varieties), its biology and control, check out “Biology, Ecology, and Management of Masked Chafer (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) Grubs in Turfgrass” in the Feb. 10, 2016, issue of JIPM.