Akers Monthly – February 2023
Black Beetle is About.
Over the last few weeks, we have had an increase in the number of cases of Black Beetle wreaking havoc on lawns. Black Beetle is a common pest that is usually present during the warmer weather between September to March, and after heavy rains. Black Beetle and their grub larvae will eat through the roots of your lawn, causing it to no longer absorb the moisture and nutrients it needs. They can spread quite quickly through lawns, so it is important to act as soon as possible
Identifying Black Beetle:
Black Beetle live and move through the soil under the grass, and do not often come to the surface. This can make them hard to identify, but there are visible signs to help. The main one is that your grass will become dry, straw-like, and begin to die off in patches that range in size and gradually spread. Another tell-tale sign is an increase of birds pecking into your lawn, as they are trying to eat the grubs. If you see these signs there are a couple of tests you can do to confirm that it is Black Beetle.
These tests are designed to encourage Black Beetle to come out of the soil and onto the surface of the lawn.
- Lay a wet towel, hessian bag or piece of carpet on the lawn overnight. In the morning, lift it up and see if any beetles are enjoying the moisture underneath it.
- Take a bucket of soapy water and pour it over part of an affected area. If there are any beetles or grubs in that area they will usually come to the surface after about 10 minutes. This test is best done at dawn or dusk when they are most likely to be active.
Please note that if you do not find results after one test it does not mean you are pest free as they could be active in other areas of your lawn. Be sure to test different areas before making a conclusion.
Prevention & Treatment:
Now that you have determined that your lawn has Black Beetle in it, it is time to treat it!
One of the best and most effective insecticides on the market is Acelepryn. Acelepryn is safe for all lawn types and has a residual effect for up to six months to give you peace of mind. It has minimal impact on the environment and has low toxicity to most non-target animals such as worms, fish, birds, and bees.
As a preventative measure we recommend applying Acelepryn every six months to provide year-round protection. As a treatment Acelepryn is most effective when applied in September/October before Summer infestations begin, and again in March/April, or at the first sign of beetle infestation.
Acelepryn is available to purchase as a granule in 4kg or 10kg, or as a liquid. Liquids are great to use if you have pets on your property, as they soak quickly into the soil leaving nothing on the surface.
Other fast-acting insecticide products that you can use to treat Black Beetle are:
Lawn Solutions Grub Guard, Yates Grub Kill & Protect, and Yates Baythroid Advanced Insect Killer for Lawns.
If you have lawn damage and have determined that the cause is Black Beetle, you will need to treat it as soon as possible to avoid any more damage. The best time to apply beetle and grub treatments is late afternoon/dusk, and always follow with some water.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to treat these pests yourself, we can come out and apply Acelepryn to your lawn as part of our Follow Up Service. Give us a call to book in!
How to Recover Your Lawn From Pest Damage
If lawn damage has occurred you will need to lightly rake out and remove the dry, dead grass to make room for new growth. Focus on removing the loose grass pieces and not the runners, as they can still grow and repair. After raking you can spread a couple of handfuls of top dress mix or loam over the patchy areas to give some nutrients and organics to the soil that will encourage the lawn to grow.
The most important thing to do for lawn recovery is regular watering and mowing. For a few weeks post-pests, you will need to deep water 2-3 times a week, depending on current weather conditions. Always monitor your lawn as water needs will differ from yard to yard. Regular mowing will encourage lateral growth, thickening, and keeps your lawn growing at a steady rate. Only take 1/3 of the leaf off with each mow, so as not to stress the lawn.
Soon after some new growth and greening should be evident. Now is the time to apply a high nitrogen fertiliser and water well.
If the damage has spread to cover large areas, the quickest way to recover will be to oversow with a similar lawn seed to your lawn type. Remove the dead grass as above, loosen the topsoil with a rake or similar, and then spread seed down evenly. Cover lightly with top dress mix or loam and keep damp while the seeds germinate.
See aftercare for seeding here.
Fungus becomes more common heading into Autumn, and could become a larger issue if left untreated. Fungus is usually caused by poor grass health, overwatering, poor drainage, or soil compaction. It can be found in warm/humid or cool/damp conditions, and particularly under trees or where water is pooling. The best way to manage fungus is by first determining what it is, and what could be causing it.
What to look out for:
- Patches or rings that are white, yellow, or brown that grow in diameter
- Irregular discoloration or texture
- Coloured spots on leaf blades or stems
- Powdery coatings
- Thinned out areas, or areas of wet/slimy looking grass
- A group of mushrooms in the shape of a ‘fairy ring’
There are a few different types of fungus (see here) that vary in severity. Mushrooms appearing in your lawn is a fungus but will not present any issues and is a good sign that there is a lot of organic material in your soil which your lawn will love! The mushrooms can be hand pulled if you don’t want them in your lawn and will eventually disappear on their own. However, if mushrooms present in the shape of a circle or ring, that can indicate a different fungus called Fairy Ring.
Prevention and control of small fungus problems:
- Refrain from watering in the evening and instead water in the morning to allow the area to dry and disperse during the day.
- Do long, deep, less frequent waters rather than short frequent waters.
- Create less shade (if possible) by cutting back your trees and hedges regularly.
- Fertilise every 2-3 months alternating between granular and liquid.
- Remove thatch build-ups, and regularly aerate your lawn.
- Keep your lawn healthy! A well-maintained lawn that has shade management, is watered appropriately, and is regularly fertilised, mowed, dethatched and aerated is much less likely to have any fungal issues.
If you have a larger fungus problem the best approach is to apply a fungicide, as well as doing the prevention methods above. We recommend using Impala Fungicide as it attacks and controls many different turf diseases at multiple stages of development. It is effective against leaf, crown and root diseases, and gives protection of new growth for up to 28 days. Be sure to read product label for individual disease application methods.
Other fungicide products that can be used on your lawn or garden are Yates Mancozeb, and Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust.