Agriculture: Turfgrass Pest Management Guidelines

Dichondra Flea Beetle

  • Chaetocnema repens
  • Description of the Pest

    Eggs are laid near the soil surface and require 3 days to hatch. The soil-dwelling larvae are white, with fine bristles and a light brown head capsule. Last (fourth) instar larvae are about 0.17 to 0.25 inch long. The white pupae are 0.05 inch long and are found in the same depths (up to 4 inches) in the soil as the larvae. Larvae require 22 to 25 days to complete development; pupation takes about 5 days. Adults are ovoid, about 0.06 inch long, and have greatly thickened hind femora for jumping. Newly emerged adults are white for 1 day, then turn a characteristic black color with a metallic reddish bronze tinge. The antennae, front, and middle legs are reddish yellow. Adults can be observed by passing a hand over affected dichondra. The disturbed adults will jump, some of them onto your hand or arm. Dichondra flea beetle overwinters as an adult.

    Susceptible Species

    Dichondra and bermudagrass.


    Dichondra flea beetles seriously damage dichondra, causing many dichondra lawns to be replaced with grass turf. Larvae feed between May and October on small roots and the outsides of larger roots. This injury causes dichondra to wilt and die; often, large patches are affected. Adults feed on dichondra leaves, producing distinctive crescent marks on the upper surface. Severely skeletonized plants may wither; however, this symptom is most likely caused by larval root feeding. Larval populations can be assessed by placing turf soil cores in a Berlese funnel and extracting the larvae.

    The dichondra flea beetle has also been found damaging common and hybrid bermudagrass in California. Symptoms include overall appearance of lack of water or fertilizer burn. First signs of damage appear in March and decrease in September as temperatures drop. Individual leaf blades have white linear banding along the length of the leaf blade. Occasionally the turf becomes bleached out in appearance.


    Treat for dichondra flea beetle if populations are high enough that damage may occur.

    Common name Amount per 1000 sq ft** Ag Use
    NonAg Use
    (Example trade name) (hours) (hours)
    Not all registered pesticides are listed. The following are ranked with the pesticides having the greatest IPM value listed first—the most effective and least harmful to natural enemies, honey bees, and the environment are at the top of the table. When choosing a pesticide, consider information relating to air and water quality, resistance management, and the pesticide's properties and application timing. Always read the label of the product being used.
      (Orthene Turf, Tree, and Ornamental Spray) 1–1.9 oz 24 Until dry
      COMMENTS: For use on golf courses and sod farms only. Nontarget effects likely on other soil-dwelling organisms. Odorous. Up to 2.4 oz material/1000 sq. ft. can be used for black cutworm on turfgrass. Highly toxic to bees; do not spray directly or allow to drift onto blooming crops or weeds where bees are foraging.
      (DeltaGard G) 2–3 lb Until dry
      COMMENTS: Not for use on sod farms or in commercial seed production. For best results, irrigate with an adequate quantity of water to thoroughly moisten grass and thatch and to dissolve the granules.
    ** Apply in 25 gal water/1000 sq ft unless otherwise noted.
    1Rotate chemicals with a different mode-of-action group number, and do not use products with the same mode-of-action group number more than twice per season to help prevent the development of resistance. For example, the organophosphates have a group number of 1B; chemicals with a 1B group number should be alternated with chemicals that have a group number other than 1B. Mode-of-action group numbers are assigned by IRAC (Insecticide Resistance Action Committee).
    Restricted entry interval (REI) is the number of hours (unless otherwise noted) from treatment until the treated area can be safely entered without protective clothing. Agricultural use applies to sod farms and commercial seed production.
    Indicates use is not listed on label.
    Text Updated: 09/09
    Treatment Table Updated: 12/16