Masked Chafer


Cyclocephala Borealis

The adults are a light brown beetle 3/8 to 1/2 inch in length and have a black band on the front of the head (the mask)(Image A & B). They have a single generation per year and adult flight is in June and July. Eggs are laid and the grubs hatch and begin to feed in August and September (Image C). Damage is usually observed in the fall.

Notes: This insect is present in the southern tier of counties. It can appear in a mixed population with European chafer and Japanese beetle.  It is uncommon in Michigan but only 10 years ago it was not present in Michigan at all. It is the most destructive grub pest in the states just south of Michigan.

  • Crops Affected: turf


    Distant: Often vertebrate damage is the first indication of a problem. The turf will be dug-up and flipped-over during the night. The damaged area will get larger each night. Or, watch for areas of turf that are dying and turning brown.

    Up close: Dead patches or large areas of dead and dying turf. The grass can be pulled back if grubs have removed enough of the roots.

    When damage would be found: September and October

    Host: All species

    Site: Normally found on higher mowed, non-irrigated turf but can be found in higher maintenance turf also.

    Description of damaging stage: 3/8 to 3/4 inch C-shaped white grubs. They will have 6 legs, a brown head capsule with obvious chewing mouthparts. They may have a grayish back end. They can be identified to species by the pattern of hairs on their rear end (the raster)(Images D & E).


    Sampling: Dig a 1 ft2 area of turf down about 3 inches and sort through the turf to look for grubs from mid September till the end of October, or in April. This species of grub will not be found between mid-June and early August, as they will be in the pupa, adult or egg stage during this time. Sample in several spots in the yard close to and in the dying patches. If sampling around vertebrate damage, sample next to it. The skunks and raccoons are very efficient at finding the grubs and where the turf is flipped over, there will not be any. If an average of 5 grubs per square foot is found in non-irrigated turf or 15 or more in irrigated turf, an insecticide application may be warranted.

    Preventing Pest Injury to Turfgrass: Home lawns, recreational turf and golf course roughs can be managed to avoid insect injury without insecticides by using proper fertility, mowing at a height of 3.0 to 4.0 inches, and watering during dry periods. This will build a dense stand of turf and a diverse community of insects that will keep turf pests under control. All lawns in Michigan will typically start off lush and green in the spring and will go dormant and turn brown during periods of little rain. Information on the use of insecticides to treat turf pest problems is only meant to be used for the unusual cases where turf damage from pests becomes unacceptable. Even then, insecticides should only be used in areas of a lawn with severe turf damage, and only until a dense turf is re-established.

    Using insecticides: Use insecticides judiciously, temporarily, and only in response to unacceptable turf injury. Many insecticides are poisonous if ingested, and therefore must be stored in places where they cannot be found by children. Use the rate recommended on the label for the pest you are attempting to control. Wear rubber gloves, safety glasses (or goggles), rubber boots, long pants and long sleeved shirts when mixing and applying insecticides. The most caution is needed when mixing a concentrated insecticide in water, because skin contact with the concentrated insecticide in the original container is more dangerous than contact with the diluted insecticide after mixing. Water the turf immediately after applying the insecticide to wash it to the base of the plants or into the soil and allow the turf to dry before allowing access by people and pets.

    Chemical Control of Grubs: There are 2 types of chemicals that can be used for grub control: curative products (carbaryl and triclorfon) and preventive products (neonicotinoid insecticides such as imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, clothianidin and the anthranilic diamide insecticide, chlorantraniliprole). Read the ingredient section of the label of the insecticide package to determine which active ingredient is in it. The chemicals listed earlier are by common name. There are a myriad of trade names that these active ingredients are in.

    The curative grub compounds work (or at least in the next 7-10 days). They need to be applied at the full rate recommended for grub control and should be watered in immediately after application with a minimum of 1/2 inch of water. See the specific sections for the species of grub you are treating for. They will give about 40-65% grub reduction. Don't use these too late in the fall as it will take one to two weeks to get to where the grubs are feeding. If it is getting cool, the grubs will not be feeding and will not pick up any of the insecticide. The grubs begin to pupate between mid-May and the beginning of June, depending on the grub species. They stop feeding and again, will not pick up any insecticide if it is applied too late. It is best to wait and apply a preventive compound for a spring grub problem unless there is a very high population.

    The preventive grub compounds are systemic and are absorbed by the roots and moved throughout the grass plant. It takes a while for the materials to be absorbed by the plants and they work best on small grubs. It is important to get the material into the root zone so that it can be picked up by the plant. It is also important to apply it early enough to give the chemical a chance to be picked up by the grass before the grubs become large. When properly applied they will give 90+% control of grubs. They do not kill the grubs present at the time they are applied; they kill the ones that will be developing in 3-12 weeks. Ideally, the neonicotinoid applications should be made between June 1 and mid-July and should be watered in with a minimum of 1/2 inch of water. They can be applied as late as mid-August, but it becomes more critical to supply irrigation the later you wait. The effectiveness falls off rapidly after about the 3rd week of August, even with irrigation. Chlorantraniliprole is a relatively new compound for grub control. It is much less water soluble than the neonicotinoids and therefore must be applied much earlier. April to mid-May is the optimum timing for chlorantraniliprole, followed with 1/2 inch of irrigation.