Spittlebugs and centipede grass

Asked June 19, 2015, 6:23 PM EDT

I have been fighting spittlebugs in my lawn for ten years. I absolutely can't get rid of them. I treat my yard twice per year, and it is currently swarming with the things. If I don't get something put on it within the next few days I won't have a lawn left. I just treated it about 8 weeks ago. I've tried everything Lowes, etc has to sell. Suggestions, please!

Pickens County South Carolina

1 Response

Hello!

Unfortunately, centipede grass is the most susceptible grass to spittlebug damage. Thatch buildup will also cause spittlebugs to really damage your grass. If you notice buildup of thatch, which is a layer of dead grass above the soil and below the growing grass (the dead grass appears intertwined and linked together), you may want to try dethatching. Insecticides are often required when the problem is very serious, which sounds like your case. When you do use an insecticide, cutting and watering your grass a few hours before applying insecticide will increase the effectiveness of the chemical treatment. You may have already been looking for this, but make sure to purchase insecticides that are specifically labeled for spittlebugs on grass. If it’s labeled for anything else, it won’t work properly.

If you’ve just had enough, there are turfgrasses that are more resistant to spittlebugs that you may be interested in. Zoysiagrass is probably the best example.

This fact sheet from the University of Florida Extension has some good general information about spittlebugs. While it may talk about Florida, the information can still be applied to South Carolina. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/LH/LH07700.pdf

I hope you are able to implement the cultural and chemical practices together to control your spittlebug problem. I know this problem is very frustrating. Let me know if I can help you further.

Thank you!
Martha Hudgins
Clemson Extension HGIC Intern
Clemson University, Class of 2016
B.S. Plant and Environmental Sciences - Agronomy