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Pest Information

Masked chafers

Masked chafers

  • Latin Name: Cyclocephala sp.
  • Common Name: Masked chafers
  • Other Names: Northern masked chafer, Southern masked chafer

Pest Details

Masked chafers
Masked chafers
Masked chafers
Masked chafers


These are native insects in North America.


This genus represents another large group of important turf pests, with over 21 species in North America that are widely distributed. Within the genus two species stand out as the most important, the Northern and Southern masked chafers. The Northern occurs across the northern U.S. from New England to California and the Southern is common in the southern states south into Central and South America, and ranging north into the Upper Midwest states. Adults emerge and are active from mid June to late July, often coming to lights at night in large numbers. Adult beetles do not feed. The females then burrow into the soil to deposit up to 14 eggs. The larvae then feed on roots of plants as well as thatch and other organic materials, finally overwintering in the final larval stage. In the spring they become active again and feed until they pupate in mid spring.


The adult beetles are medium sized, usually ½ inch long and with the typical scarab appearance of elongate and cylindrical. The color of the two important species is a light yellow-brown with dark spots on the front of the thorax. The name of “masked” chafer comes from the dark brown heads. The larvae have the characteristic C-shape of white grubs.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Contact insecticides can be applied to turf to kill the larvae, timed to when the larvae are feeding in the root zone of the turf grasses. Granular insecticides can be very effective once watered in to move the active ingredient into the soil. Contact insecticides can also be applied to the turf when adult beetle activity is occurring, killing adult females as they burrow into the soil to lay eggs.

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