Ask the Expert: Digger Bees, Bird Mites and June Beetles


September 18, 2015

Q: I’m dealing again with “digger bees” in lawns. I’ve failed before. What’s the best way to treat for these pests? They seem to show up in the same lawns every year. What can be done to prevent attacks in the future? 

A: When dealing with solitary bees and wasps digging in lawns, the secret to success is to treat with an emulsion and use lots of water. You should be wetting the soil to a depth of at least 0.25 in. If you only wet the surface, two things happen: The sun quickly burns off the residual, and the target pests can dig through the thin layer without receiving a lethal dose. If the customer wets the soil with a sprinkler or irrigation system, you don’t need as much water when you treat.

These bees and wasps prefer to dig burrows in sparse turf areas. To prevent future attacks, have the area sodded. If sunlight is too poor for thick turf, perhaps the area in question can be covered with mulch to prevent digging.

Q: Last year, a customer with a log home had problems with birds constructing nests on the building, which consequently led to an infestation of bird mites. We removed the nests and treated to solve the problem. This year, birds are back and the homeowner is discouraging them by using a garden hose. This has kept the nests off, but the customer has developed “bites” on his arms. Should I just treat the area in question as I did last year to solve the problem? — TOM S., OHIO

A: No! You shouldn’t be treating if you don’t know the cause of the problem. Because the birds haven’t nested yet, there should not be any bird mite populations, either. If you treat and the customer’s symptoms disappear briefly, what happens if the “bites” reappear? You’ll be called back for another application, and the process will go on and on.

Place some monitors to determine the problem. If no mites or biting insects are found, it’s not your problem. Your customer can begin exploring other causes.

Q: June beetles are showing up in the hallways of a condo building. They are on three separate floors, but are most prevalent on the first floor. None are in individual units. How can I treat this, and where did they come from? — JOHN O., IOWA

A: June beetle larvae typically feed on underground roots. The adults might not feed at all. Each species has an annual emergence period. The adult beetles fly and are attracted to light.

Light management around the exterior doors might help. Emergence will cease shortly, and the problem will disappear.

Email your questions about insect identification and pest management technologies and techniques to Dr. Doug Mampe, an industry consultant, at Your questions most likely will be printed and answered in one of Pest Management Professional’s upcoming Ask the Expert columns.

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  1. Richard says:

    JUNE BEETLES: I would also check that there is s good seal around the entrance doors. Seems they may be crawling in there on the first floor. Check to see if light shines through any cracks or spaces around the door on a bright sunny day or have some one with a flashlight at night shine on the outside of the door while you are inside looking to see if you see any light coming in around the bottom of the door and around the frame. Then have the doors sealed up if light shines through.