Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

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

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07.19 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 75 Honeysuckle's sweet scent not so kind to mosquitoes Jan Suszkiw e delicate scent of honeysuckle in the air is a pleasing sign of summer's approach. How- ever, this perennial flowering vine also packs a powerful punch when it comes to knocking out the larvae of mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti, the species that spreads yellow fever. In laboratory studies by Agricultural Re- search Service scientists, essential oils in Italian honeysuckle killed 100% of the larvae, which hatch from eggs deposited in water sources by adult female mosquitoes after they've taken a blood meal — possibly from you! Entomologist Ephantus Muturi and his colleagues at ARS's National Center for Ag- ricultural Utilization Research in Peoria, Ill., investigated honeysuckle as part of a larger project to identify and develop bio-based al- ternatives to synthetic insecticide ingredients, which some consumers may be wary of using. e team's efforts aim to provide consum- ers and public health officials with a greater arsenal of weapons to choose from in prevent- ing the diseases that mosquitoes can spread, including yellow fever, Zika, dengue fever and malaria — the last of which was linked to 219 million reported cases and 435,000 deaths worldwide in 2017. Adding to that threat is the potential for some mosquito populations to develop resis - tance to the insecticides used against them, notes Muturi, who is in the Peoria center's Crop Bioprotection Research Unit. In all, Muturi and colleagues identified 16 different compounds in the essential oils of Italian honeysuckle. e oils are found in the plant's stem, leaves, and distinctly shaped flowers and give rise to its alluring scent, which fills the air starting in late spring, de- pending on the region. Of the compounds tested, the one that delivered the knockout punch was patchouli alcohol, a discovery that could open the door to formulating it as a biopesticide that can be safely applied to mosquito larvae habitat such as ponds, drainage ditches, stormwater catch basins and even kiddie pools. e researchers don't envision growing and harvesting honeysuckle for its essential oils, though. After all, some species — like Amur honeysuckle, which can be found through- out much of the eastern United States — are considered invasive. Instead, the oil and some of its bioactive chemical constituents, such as patchouli alcohol, can be purchased commercially and are commonly used as ac- tive ingredients in perfumes and other cos- metics products. However, until the team's studies (published in Pest Management Sci- ence (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/ 10.1002/ps.5327), the added benefit of killing mosquito larvae hadn't been shown. Muturi's group plans on scaling up its studies of the insecticidal potential of hon- eysuckle essential oil and its chemical con- stituents, along with compounds from other plants. ey're also examining microorgan- isms such as fungi that infect and kill dif- ferent mosquito life stages, diminishing the biting pest as a public nuisance and health threat. Jan Suszkiw is a public affairs specialist for the Agricul- tural Research Service Office of Communications, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in Beltsville, Md. An engorged female Aedes aegypti mosquito rests after a blood meal. Developing new products for mosquito control is critical in order to control serious diseases such as malaria, Zika, yellow fever and dengue fever. Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA Agricultural Research Service (d2623-8)

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