Expert Advice

Turfgrass Scale

Problem

Turfgrass scale is a typical scale insect that resembles an egg cut in half lengthwise. It is brown with a yellow stripe in the middle. The insect is 1.5-2.5mm in length and has sucking mouth parts from which it feeds on plant sap, on the crowns of the grass blade. The larvae of scale insects are called crawlers and are the size of the head of a pin and reddish in colour. Typical damage is thin patches of grass that do not green up in the spring. They are found mainly on sodded lawns and in general, do not cause much damage. Cottony mass of silk with around 400 salmon-pink coloured eggs can be found prior to June and crawlers can be found thereafter with nymph’s maturing over winter.

Solution

The best defence against a turfgrass scale is a healthy lawn. If your lawn is fertilized regularly, mowed accurately and irrigated properly it will be able to withstand insect feeding. First and foremost, watering deeply but less frequently will allow the roots of your grass to deepen and your lawn will be able to grow new leaf blades as well as repair itself quickly from any insect feeding. One inch of water once a week between 4am to 7am is crucial to maintain active growth. Proper mowing is also very important, you should never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at any time to avoid shocking the grass plant. Keep your lawn around 3” long to make sure your grass doesn’t start using its food reserves, which will impact how quickly it recovers.