Golf Course Management

OCT 2014

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

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92 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.14 liquid applications during early morning or late evening can help minimize the risk of hit - ting bees directly as they move about in the feld. That precaution will also minimize the chances that drift will directly contact forag - ing bees. This approach should not be used in place of, but rather in conjunction with, the other recommendations listed. Buffer strips. Most managed landscapes, including lawns, golf courses, parks and gar - dens are composed of large areas of turfgrass with landscape beds placed in various arrange - ments throughout. These landscape beds usu- ally contain fowering plants that are attractive to a variety of pollinators. Furthermore, many golf courses contain native areas with various forbs (fowering broadleaves) where bees for - age. Although the boundaries between land- scape beds, native areas and turf are often well- defned above ground, these boundaries are not so clear below ground. The intermingling of plant roots creates a much softer boundary in the soil with the roots of ornamental plants creeping unseen beneath the cover of turf and vice versa. As a result, applications of neonic - otinoid insecticides aimed at protecting the turf could potentially be taken up by fower - ing plants within adjacent landscape beds that otherwise appear to be spatially discrete from the application area. In these circumstances, it may be advantageous to leave a buffer strip of 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meter) between the treated turf and the margin of the landscape bed to minimize the potential for fowering plants to take up the insecticide through their roots. We admit that there is no scientifc evi - dence supporting the idea that making treat- ments right up to the margin of a landscape bed provides a serious threat to pollinators through systemic uptake by untargeted plant material. Nonetheless, common sense indi - cates it is a possibility, and we can think of no serious downside to leaving a buffer strip until we learn otherwise through research. The far - ther nontarget plants are from neonicotinoid application sites, the less likely it is they will take up the pesticide. Petal fall. Sometimes neonicotinoids may be required to address an insect problem as - sociated with landscape trees. When no good alternatives are available, we suggest waiting until fower petals fall before applying these insecticides. After petal fall, honey bees and other pollinators will not be attracted to these trees and the risk of the bees' acquiring the insecticide from the nectar or pollen of such plants is minimized. It is worth mentioning that neonicotinoids are often used to protect high-value ash trees from the emerald ash borer, which is devastat - ing ash trees throughout the Midwest. These products perform admirably in this capacity and are simpler to use than products requir - ing direct injection into the trunk. Although ash trees are wind-pollinated and do not re - quire the services of pollinating insects, honey bees and other opportunistic pollinators may occasionally visit their fowers. This likely oc - curs at a very low rate, and there is probably little risk of pollinators being exposed to sig - nifcant levels of neonicotinoids in the fowers of ash trees. Still, in keeping with our cautious approach, the relatively minor pollinator haz - ard associated with neonicotinoid-treated ash trees can be further reduced by waiting until the trees have fully bloomed before making an application. This should allow time for the fowers to senesce before the neonicotinoid can be taken up and translocated through - out the tree, a process that typically takes two or more weeks. Adopting this strategy will not reduce the effectiveness of these products against emerald ash borer. Alternatives. No matter what the green in - dustry does, the EPA review of registration of all neonicotinoid insecticides indicates an outside possibility that these products may be restricted or even lost in the relatively near fu - ture. We are not trying to start a panic because an extreme regulatory response seems un - likely, especially if we can prove we are good stewards of the technology. But there are likely to be changes, given the pace of the science on this issue and public awareness about pollina - tor declines. Our responsibilities as university Exten - sion specialists require us to look ahead at the possibilities, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In other words, we need to be thinking about what our industry would look like without these tools. What alternatives are available and what would we do without neonicotinoids? Even though the neonicotinoids represent some of the best tools available for a number of applications, many time-tested alternatives are available for use against turf and ornamen - tal insects (Table 2). The anthranilic diamide chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn, Syngenta) is a very effective white grub chemistry, especially when used in a preventive or early curative program. This same chemistry also performs well against many surface insects. We also still have trichlorfon (Dylox, Bayer) for use as a late curative white grub control. Trichlorfon and carbaryl (Sevin, Bayer) also can be used to treat white grubs in an early curative pro - gram, before damage occurs. The pyrethroids (Talstar, FMC; Tempo, Bayer; Scimitar, Syn - genta; and others) and chlorpyrifos (Dursban) have good activity against surface feeding in - sects, and spinosad (Conserve, Dow AgroSci- ences) is a solid caterpillar insecticide and mi- ticide. For protecting landscape trees against wood-boring insects such as the emerald ash borer, azadirachtin (Azatrol, PBI-Gordon; Aza-Direct, Gowan; and others) should pro - vide excellent control when trunk-injected. In laboratory studies, the other alternative for controlling emerald ash borer, emamec - tin benzoate (TREE-├Ąge, Arborjet), is just as toxic or more toxic to bees when compared to the neonicotinoids, and its residual activity is much longer (up to two years) (2). However, the capacity of this material to get into the nectar and pollen of trees is not known. Many more products could be mentioned, and the above list is just a starting point. We encourage turf professionals to work with their local Extension specialists to determine the best chemistry and application timing for the problematic pests in their region. The bot - tom line is that we could, if pressed, fnd a way to manage our key insect pests without the neonicotinoids, but we hope will not be forced to do so in the near future. Conclusion Neonicotinoids are powerful and versatile pest management tools and they have changed the way we manage insect pests. These com - pounds are defnitely safer to handle and use than most of the insecticides they replaced, and they have made our lives easier by tak - ing a lot of the guesswork out of application timing. We are sure that, as an industry, we recognize the benefts of having these tools at our disposal, and we have never shirked our responsibilities for using such tools responsi - bly. It is important that we in the industry step up to do the simple things within our power to continue to maintain the smallest environ - mental impact possible. Concern about the use of neonicotinoids and the health of bees represents just such an opportunity.

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