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The pasture cockchafer (Aphodius tasmaniae) is a pest of improved pastures, lawns, golf fairways and parks, mainly in certain areas of the highland districts.
The larvae typically cause a thinning out or improved pastures, with consequent loss of winter feed. Where larvae are numerous they may cause considerable damage, even complete denudation. It is not often that permanent damage to the pasture results, but if unfavourable pasture conditions prevail in the following spring and summer, larval damage may be heavy, and being followed by slow winter growth, recovery from the setback is slow.
The distribution coincides with regions of fairly high rainfall (average 30 inches), fertile soil, mostly of basaltic origin and of high elevation (generally over 2,500 feet) with a temperate climate. Such conditions are very suitable for the establishment of improved pastures of mixed annual grasses and clovers, particularly subterranean clover. This scarab is essentially a pest of such pastures, being rarely found in natural grassland.
The pasture cockchafer is a native beetle and its larva is popularly known as a " white curl grub ". The larvae are unusual in that they tunnel to the surface of the soil and feed on the tender young growth of annual grasses and clovers.
The beetles emerge from the ground on warm sultry nights during January and February. After mating, the females crawl back into the soil to lay their eggs, usually in patches with a poor grass cover.
The young larvae feed on organic matter in the soil but later tunnel to the surface
if suitable moisture conditions prevail. Surface feeding activity is characterised by the presence of small heaps of soil or casts around the entrance of the tunnels.
Larvae cease feeding by September and enter a prepupal stage. They pupate in December and the adults emerge a month or so later.