The Q&A Archives: Pearl Scale in Bermuda Grass

Question: How does pearl scale get started in lawn, where does it come from? Our lawn has brown spots at random in it. When digging at the base of the roots I found tiny white pearls.
How can I stop them from killing the grass? We flood irrigate--does this have any bearing on the problem?

Answer: You've done a good job in deducing your problem. Immature pearl scales are insects that are covered with white, hard, globular shells that cause them to resemble tiny pearls. They are less than 1/8 inch in diameter, about the size of a pin head. They are found under the soil around grass roots.
They can damage by sucking fluids out of Bermuda grass. The grass turns yellow-brown in the summer, and then dies in patches.

Currently there is no magic cure to stop pearl scale. You can control its spread by cleaning any tools, mowers, etc. between uses. It usually comes in on sod, so examine any sod before laying it. Flood irrigation is not part of the problem. Thanks for writing!

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