Heteronychus arator

African Black Beetle

Other common names:

Scarub grub, which also encompasses the Black Headed Cockchafer (Aphodius tasmaniae).



Adult black beetles can cause significant damage by feeding on stolons and rhizomes and tunneling within the ground. Turf can also show discolouration, thinning, wilting and have a lack luster appearance. Black beetles are active all year round, particularly from August to February in Australia. Beware of signs when birds, particularly cookatoos, are busy feeding within the surface. Adults also cause soil mounds on entering and existing the turf surface.


The larvae, are known as White Curl Grub, are the 3rd stage of the Black Beetle Larva. The larvae have a brown head and are approximately 5-25 mm long and 1-5 mm thick. They begin feeding on organic matter in the root zone, initially near the surface and then deeper as they grow. They then feed on the turf root system which can result in producing large brown patches that further stresses the turf. Turf can also thin out. They are active from late spring till early summer.


Susceptible turf:

Black beetle can be found in all turfgrass species and varieties.


Control options:

  • Pesticides: See available tabs below for registered products. Use as per label instructions.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Use a combination of approaches listed on this page.
  • Cultural: Avoid using excessive nitrogen fertilisers and opt to use slow release turf fertilisers.
  • Mechanical: Reduce thatch levels reducing favourable feeding and living conditions.



Turf Finder or its developer accepts with no responsibility for any consequences whatsoever resulting from the use of any information or product(s) listed herein. Products are to be applied as per label instructions.

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