Golf Course Management

DEC 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 12.18 Juang Horng "JC" Chong, Ph.D. Matthew S. Brown Searching for management solutions for the bermudagrass mite Few solutions are currently available for control of the bermudagrass mite because of significant gaps in our knowledge of its biology and management. e bermudagrass mite inflicts significant damage and produces numerous challenges to management of bermudagrass turf on golf courses, sod farms, athletic fields, lawns, hay fields and pastures. It is distributed in the southern part of the continental United States, from North Carolina to California. Its reach is worldwide, with reports of damaged turf from Australia to South Africa. is pest is truly challenging, not only because of how little we know about it, but also because of confusion about what we think we know. Bermudagrass mite: a pest shrouded in confusion If you look up the word "confusion" in a dictionary, you might find a picture of the bermudagrass mite. Let's start with its scien tific name. As recently as this year (1), Ameri can scientists accepted Eriophyes cynodoniensis (Sayed) as the scientific name for bermuda grass mite. Previously, the same species had been identified as Aceria neocynodonis Keifer in Australia, the United States and elsewhere. e name accepted by the International Com mission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) is its original name, Aceria cynodoniensis Sayed (7). We are of the opinion that the name ac cepted by the ICZN should be the proper name, but many turf managers and pest man agement practitioners believe the argument about its proper scientific name is just a case of splitting hairs and has little practical pur pose. In this article, we refer to this pest as the bermudagrass mite. Other common names are bermudagrass stunt mite and couch grass mite. In the United States, bermudagrass mite was first reported in Phoenix in 1959 (12). Its origin, however, is controversial. American scientists have traditionally identified Aus tralia as the homeland of the bermudagrass mite (2, 3), but Australian researchers believe that the bermudagrass mite is a native of Af rica (9). is controversy can be resolved with modern genetic tools, which can trace the ori gin of multiple populations to a general area. Why is this important? Once we know the bermudagrass mite's place of origin, we can explore that area in order to identify and im port natural enemies that attack only the ber mudagrass mite. is classical biological con trol approach, if successful, may help control bermudagrass mites in the United States and elsewhere. e greatest confusion — and the one with the greatest impact on effective management — concerns the biology of the bermudagrass mite. Bermudagrass mite biology e bermudagrass mite is an eriophyid mite. Similar to its eriophyid mite cousins, the bermudagrass mite is tiny (adults are 0.006 to 0.008 inch or 0.16 to 0.21 mm long). e mites are banana or cigar shaped, translucent or whitish cream in color, and have two pairs of legs (Figure 1). Eggs are spherical, translu cent and about 0.002 inch (0.06 mm) in di ameter. Nymphs develop through two instars (protonymph and deutonymph), with one rest ing period (nymphochrysalis or imagochrysa lis) after each instar. All life stages, often in populations numbered in the hundreds, are found between stems and leaf sheaths. Each female bermudagrass mite produces 50 eggs, which hatch in two to three days (4). Development from egg to adult takes about one to two weeks, with the developmental time shortened during the summer and in warmer locations. Bermudagrass mites are most active and cause the greatest damage during the spring and early summer, but they are active year round in a favorable environ ment such as that of southern Florida, where the weather is warm and a continuously grow ing host is available. Fact or fiction? But what if all the known facts about the bermudagrass mite described above are not facts at all? e majority of references on bermudagrass mite biology are not based on information specific to this species, but on generalized knowledge about the biology of eriophyid mites as a group. Without a doubt, the bermudagrass mite has a very short life

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