Agriculture: Turfgrass Pest Management Guidelines

Bermudagrass Scale

  • Odonaspis ruthae
  • Description of the Pest

    Bermudagrass scales are 0.06 inch (1.6 mm) long, clam-shaped, and white armored. They are found on the crown, stolons, and under leaf sheaths of bermudagrass. High populations of bermudagrass scales create a whitish, moldy appearance on stems and crowns. Close examination of the grass with a hand lens will help to distinguish the clam-shaped shields.

    The adult female produces eggs under her body covering. These hatch into crawlers that move to a new location, settle down, start to suck juices from the grass, and molt into the familiar sessile form. There are two or three generations a year.

    Susceptible Species

    Hybrid and common bermudagrass.

    Damage

    Bermudagrass scale occurs most frequently in shaded lawn areas and is favored by an overabundance of thatch. Feeding stunts the bermudagrass and results in a drought-stressed appearance. Bermudagrass suffering from other stresses, such as shade or drought, is especially susceptible and infestation can result in death.

    Management

    To manage bermudagrass scale in turfgrass, reduce the amount of shade in the turf by removing excessive thatch, which increases light penetration. Some of the bermudagrass scale population will also be removed with the thatch. Do not plant bermudagrass in heavily shaded areas. There are no registered chemical control options.

    Text Updated: 09/09