Agriculture: Turfgrass Pest Management Guidelines

Australian Sod Fly

  • Inopus rubriceps
  • Description of the Pest

    In California, the Australian sod fly is occasionally found only in the San Francisco Bay Area. Adult male flies are 0.25 inch (6 mm) long and black with yellowish legs. Females are 0.4 inch (9.5 mm) long, black, with reddish legs and a red head. Adults may be active in May, but their major period of activity is from September through November. Eggs are laid in the soil. After hatching, larvae may take 2 years to complete development. Fully grown larvae are 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) long maggots with flattened, distinctly segmented bodies that are light tan with a coarsely granular surface. There are six long, stiff bristles per segment, no legs, and a distinct, conical black head capsule. The flattened and distinctly segmented body of the sod fly larvae easily distinguishes this species from other maggots, such as the march fly, that occur in turf but mostly feed on decaying organic matter.

    Susceptible Species

    All turf species.


    Australian sod fly larvae feed on sap from the roots of grasses. As a result of their feeding, grass declines and is replaced over time with broadleaf weeds.


    There are no known biological or cultural controls and no registered chemical controls. A well maintained, adequately irrigated, vigorously growing turf stand can normally withstand a moderate sodfly infestation.

    Text Updated: 09/09