PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

1995 and 1996 Turf Insect Monitoring Studies

Summary: An insect monitoring study was conducted in 1995 and 1996 to build on data generated in 1994 and to enable superintendents to predict the occurrence of key insect pests in advance of significant damage. Weekly black light trap counts of adult insect pests of turf were collected from April 17 - October 17, 1995. In 1996 the study period was lengthened to March 1 - December 1, 1996 to better characterize insect populations. Key results include:

  • Black turfgrass ataenius (BTA) continued to be the most damaging pest detected, particularly in the non-desert areas of Southern California. Cool-season greens, tees, fairways and roughs were infested, but insecticide applications were made primarily to greens. The proximity of golf courses to rivers, wooded areas and/or livestock operations seemed to increase the chances of a BTA infestation. Up to five generations of BTA were observed from March through November, with the highest populations occurring in July, August and September. Black light trap data on adult BTA was effectively used to predict the appearance of BTA grubs. During the summer months, grubs were most likely to be found 1 - 14 days after a peak adult population. Grubs were most commonly found at the thatch-soil interface.
  • Masked chafer grubs demonstrated different behaviors in Low Desert golf courses vs. inland courses vs. coastal courses. At coastal courses, chafer grubs have not been identified as causing serious problems during the three years of this study. Despite this fact, we have seen high numbers of chafer adults at coastal courses, with one large peak of activity seen very consistently in the last week of June. At inland courses, the adult population dynamics were similar to coastal locations, but the grub stages of the chafer actually caused damage on tees, fairways and roughs (but not on greens) at some inland locations during July and August. In the Low Desert, chafer grubs caused severe damage on greens and tees at many golf courses during July and August, and may have been mis-identified as black turfgrass ataenius grubs in some cases. Two peaks of adult chafer activity were observed in the desert—one in late May/early June, and another in late August/early September. It is likely that a different species of chafer is responsible for each peak.
  • Black cutworm and common armyworm adults had 4 - 5 key peaks between June and October, but were constantly present at low levels at all other times. The highest populations occurred in June and in October, with several superintendents reporting the season’s worst worm infestations as late as November. Larval infestations were worst 2 weeks after adult moth peaks. Damage was worst following aerification. 1996 populations were substantially lower than 1995 populations at almost all test locations.
  • Overall damage from insects was worst in July, August and September when turf is most stressed and therefore least likely to resist feeding.

Printable version of full report

Principal Investigator: Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D.

Cooperators: Doug Anderson, The Vintage Club; Bruce Duenow, La Jolla Country Club; Bill Gallegos, Los Coyotes Country Club; Mike Gleason, Callaway Golf; Mike Hathaway, Los Angeles Country; Club Jim Husting, Woodbridge Country Club; Mike Kocour, The Springs Club; Eric Lover, Dove Canyon Country Club; David Major, Del Mar Country; Club Ben McBrien, Sea Cliff Country Club; Mark Phillips, Monarch Beach Links; Kurt Rahn, Leisure World, Laguna Hills; Virgil Robinson, PGA West; Mark Schaer, San Luis Rey Downs; Reed Yenny, Mesa Verde Country Club

Sponsors: Superintendents above and PACE Consulting


Evaluation of Mach 2 formulations and Application Strategies for Curative Control of Black Cutworms

Summary: In a replicated field trial on a bentgrass nursery at La Jolla Country Club, La Jolla, CA, the effect on black cutworm populations of formulation type, removal of turfgrass clippings, and post-treatment irrigation was evaluated. Key results include:

  • Overall, performance of the SC formulation was better than that of the granular formulation of Mach 2. Regardless of the post-treatment management strategy employed, the SC formulation was as effective as the commercial standard (Talstar). However, the granular formulation of Mach 2 had consistently higher black cutworm populations than either Mach 2 SC or Talstar treated plots.
  • Removal of clippings did not have a significant impact on the performance of either formulation of Mach 2, although there was a non-statistical trend in this direction for the granular, but not the SC formulation.
  • Post-treatment irrigation had no impact on the performance of either Mach 2 formulation.

Printable version of full report

Principal Investigators: Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D. and Larry J. Stowell, Ph.D.

Cooperator: Bruce Duenow, La Jolla Country Club

Sponsors: Rohm and Haas


1994 Turf Insect Monitoring

Summary: An insect monitoring study was initiated to provide the basis for a turf insect integrated pest management (IPM) program. Weekly black light trap counts of adult insect pests of turf were collected from ten Southern California golf courses from March 7 through October 12, 1994. Key results from the study’s first year include:

  • Black turfgrass ataenius (BTA) was the most damaging and most difficult to control insect detected, particularly on cool season turf (bentgrass, rye, bluegrass and mixtures). Damage caused by BTA was a combination of direct feeding by grubs, and damage caused by birds searching for grubs. At least 3 generations of BTA were observed from late June to early October. This is in contrast to the 1 - 2 generations recorded for BTA in the Eastern U.S., where it has been most widely studied.
  • Black cutworms and common armyworms were an almost constant presence at all courses from April through September. Larvae (caterpillars or worms) of these insects caused some damage at several courses, but populations were easily controlled through insecticide applications. Damage caused by these pests was a combination of direct feeding by insect larvae, and damage caused by birds searching for larvae.
  • Bird damage was observed at all courses on greens and tees, especially in late July and early August. However, cutworm and armyworm larvae were sometimes difficult to find despite the bird damage. One possible explanation is that birds were searching for BTA grubs which were prevalent during this time period, rather than for cutworms and armyworms.  Because BTA grubs are rarely seen on turf (they are very small and feed in the thatch/soil interface), the damage they cause may erroneously be attributed to cutworms
  • The population models currently available for prediction of BTA and black cutworm development were designed for temperate climates where average air temperatures frequently dip below 32 F . For this reason these models were not applicable for Southern California where average air temperatures are rarely below 50 F.
  • Attempts to monitor armyworm and cutworm larval populations via the soil drench method did not provide useful information for the purposes of timing insecticide applications. Black light trap counts of adults and monitoring for insect and/or bird damage were more reliable indicators of the presence of these pests.
  • Other pest insects including sod webworms, variegated cutworms, masked chafers and May/June beetles were detected at all participating courses, but caused no significant damage to turf in 1994.

Printable version of full report

Principal Investigators: Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D. Larry Stowell, Ph.D.

Cooperators and Sponsors: Brian Darrock, Fairbanks Ranch Country Club Raymond Davies, Virginia Country Club Bill Gallegos, Los Coyotes Country Club Mike Hathaway, Los Angeles Country Club Eric Lover, Dove Canyon Country Club John Martinez, Arrowhead Country Club Brian Massey, Target Specialty Products Ben McBrien, Sea Cliff Country Club Mark Phillips, Leisure World, Laguna Hills Greg Swanson, San Luis Rey Downs Reed Yenny, Mesa Verde Country Club


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