The truth about the African Lawn Beetle...
We usually refer to African Black Beetles as Lawn Beetles, and place all sorts of blame on them for the ills of our lawns health, but is this a true belief, or an urban myth? And is it necessary to kill lawn beetles?
The Problem with Lawn Beetles
Through the larva stage of their life cycle, the Lawn Beetle will chew away at the roots of our lawns as its primary food supply. With its roots being attacked, the natural assumption is to believe this is a bad thing, that without roots our lawns will surely die. So the Lawn Beetle must be Lawn Enemy Number 1.
But this might not always be the case...
While the larvae most definitely feed on the roots of lawns, they generally keep moving throughout the soil, rarely concentrating on a single small area. Having a feed here and there, and never doing enough damage to a single root system to cause it to kill the lawn plant it is supporting. In actual fact, the lawn beetle could be thanked for its natural aeration of the soil and assisting lawns to replace their lost roots with new, younger and more vigorous roots.
Lawn Beetle activity increases as temperature increases.
This is exactly the same as the growth and health patterns in lawns, so as beetle activity increases, so does the ability of the lawn to repair itself. In fact, a lawn would have to be severely infested before the damage from beetles could ever outpace the lawns ability to repair and grow from any damage caused. And as lawns become dormant during the Winter, so do the beetles.
When Lawn Beetles do become a problem...
When lawns are suffering from poor health due to lack of care, lack of nutrients, or lack of water or sunlight, the damage factor of the beetles can outpace the repair abilities of the lawn.
Also, beetles can rarely gather to great enough numbers to outpace the lawns ability to repair itself.
In these cases, treatment to control and kill lawn beetles should be considered.
How to test that it really is an 'infestation' of Lawn Beetle?
The best way to test that you do in fact have an infestation of lawn beetle (an infestation is considered to be more then 100 lawn beetles in one (1) square metre of lawn) is to soak a small area of your lawn with a soapy solution. Approximately one bucket of soapy water should suffice. If one or two lawn beetles come up from the grass then the grass has not been infested with lawn beetle and you may have another issue pertaining to your lawn. If you do have a significant number of beetles come up then it may be time to treat the lawn for lawn beetle.
How to treat my lawn for Lawn Beetle?
In the rare case that control of African Lawn Beetle may need to be sought, simple dusts are available in most nurseries for a few dollars. Once applied to the lawn, the dust is then watered in, and dead beetles will continue to appear on the lawn surface for up to a month later. It should also be noted that applying any type of chemical to your lawn may cause discolouration and this method is only encouraged if your lawn has a true infestation.
For Velvetene lawn (please note this is only to be used for Velvetene lawns) you can apply a salt solution to the lawn. Approximately 1 kg of pool salt to 5 litres of water applied to your Velvetene will eradicate the infestation and give your lawn that extra boost it needs to.