The Ground Pearls also known as Margarodes spp., are small, turf damaging insects that suck fluids from the roots of bermudagrass, centipedegrass, St. Augustinegrass, and zoysiagrass. They can be found in lawns and landscaping throughout many of the southern states, from the east coast to the west coast.
Identifying Ground Pearls-
Adult females are soft-bodied, pinkish and pear shaped. Males are tiny, pinkish to white gnat-like insects. Both males and females are rarely seen. Adult males do not cause damage to turfgrass.
Newly hatched nymphs disperse in the soil and secrete a waxy material that hardens into a shell, or cyst. The cyst resembles a miniature pearl with its color varying from pearly white to yellowish or purple.
Signs of turf damage from Ground Pearls include unsightly, irregular patches of turf that will eventually die out. The Ground Pearls suck out plant fluids and deposit a toxic salivary substance the causes the turf to turn yellow then brown. Lawn and turf damage is most often observed during dry conditions.
Once damage caused by Ground Pearls has become extensive enough to cause the grass to die out, it rarely will grow back. Only weeds will grow back in the damaged areas of your lawn. There is some evidence that a small portion of the cysts can remain dormant in the soil for several years.
Ground Pearls Life Cycle -
Because these insects are essentially subterranean for most of their lives, little is known about their exact behavior or life cycles. It is thought that there is only one generation of Ground Pearls per year.
Promoting healthy turf, through the use of best cultural lawn care practices, is the best way to reduce the damage caused by Ground Pearls. These include appropriate mowing practices, regular fertilization, core aeration, and proper watering of your lawn.
Research is currently ongoing to find a product that is effective to control Ground Pearls in turfgrass, but none are currently available.
Scotts LawnService is the trusted industry leader for professional quality lawn care. Our exclusive lawn care products include premium grass seeds and professional-grade fertilizers; our lawn service teams are comprised of highly trained, industry-certified professionals. Contact a representative today for Ground Pearls control options available in your area and to learn how you can enjoy a lush, thicker lawn that only Scotts LawnService can deliver.