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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

Fiery skipper — Hylephila phyleus

Fiery skipper adult

Skipper larva with dark head and thoracic shield

Click on images to enlarge.

Identification

Fiery skipper adults resemble butterflies and are 1 inch (2.5 cm) long with a hooked knob at the end of their antennae. Males have orange-yellow wings spotted with black, while females have dark brown wings spotted with orange or yellow. Larvae are up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and have distinctive reddish markings on the front of what appears to be an oversized black head, a narrowed neck followed by a dark thoracic shield, and a greenish-pink body color with a granulated texture. These characteristics distinguish fiery skippers from other turfgrass pests.

Hosts

Bermudagrass, creeping bentgrass, St. Augustinegrass

Damage

Damage from fiery skippers is usually seen from May through September and begins as brown spots of lawn, 1 to 2 inches (2.5 - 5 cm) in diameter. Spots may join together to form large, irregular dead patches. Leaves are chewed or missing. Damage usually occurs near flower beds where adults feed.

Monitoring information

Perform a drench test to bring up larvae. Look for adults feeding on flowers.

Management

Reduce thatch. Overseed with grasses that are not preferred. If more than 15 larvae are found per square yard, you may need to treat. Beneficial nematodes or an application of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) may be effective against larvae. Other products are available.

Life cycle

For more information on lawn insects, refer to:
Pest Notes: Lawn Insects


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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