Black turfgrass ataenius

Ataenius spretulus

The adult black turfgrass ataenius beetle is 0.2 inch (5 mm) long, shining jet black, and has parallel grooves on the wing covers (elytra). Adults can be seen any time of day, especially on golf course greens and tees. Adult black turfgrass ataenius can easily be mistaken for another beetle, Aphodius lividus (not known to damage turf), which is slightly smaller and chocolate brown with straw-colored stripes near the center of the back and along the margin of the elytra.
DAMAGE: The larval stage damages turfgrass by feeding on roots, resulting in irregular dead patches. The damaged area appears to be drought stressed, even where there is sufficient irrigation. Symptoms may resemble those of turfgrass root diseases such as summer patch, take-all patch, and Pythium root rot. Extensive root feeding sometimes allows the turf to be rolled back like a carpet. Digging by vertebrate predators, such as crows, raccoons, and skunks, is a common indication of high grub populations.

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