Immature ground pearl are a soft bodied insect with a pale and elongate body to 5mm long, possessing inconspicuous legs and antennae. As they mature the ground pearl develops into a pink, globular-bodied pest with a large, soft abdomen and small legs and mouth parts clustered towards the front of the body, up to 4mm long.
Biology and Lifecycle
Overwintering takes place in the ground pearl stage. Females usually reach maturity in late spring and emerge from their cysts. After a brief period of mobility, the wingless females settle 5 to 7.5 cm deep in the soil and secrete a waxy coat. Within this protective covering, females develop eggs (without mating) and deposit them throughout early summer. Approximately 100 eggs are laid by each female. The slender nymphs emerge in mid-summer and infest grass rootlets. Once they initiate feeding, nymphs soon develop the familiar globular appearance. There is usually one generation each year. However, if conditions are not favourable for emergence, female nymphs may remain in the ground pearl stage for several years.