Golf Course Management

FEB 2016

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

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mole crickets spend the majority of their lives underground, and that's when they cause the most damage. These pests are more diffcult to control because the soil offers some protec - tion from exposure to insecticides. These in- sects are also much harder to monitor and ob- serve in the early stages of development, which is when they are easier to control and before they cause serious turfgrass damage. In some areas, good biological data on these insect pests have been developed from studies in agricultural crops. One can assume that the insects' behavior in turfgrass will be somewhat similar to that in crops, but that is not always accurate. In other cases, there are no biological data — including life cycle information — for an insect pest on turf - grass in a certain location. This lack of infor- mation obviously creates a challenge for the superintendent attempting to control these pests in an economic and environmentally friendly manner. Building a database What is the best way to develop a plan to answer these questions about insect pests when little is known about the insect's life cycle and biology? The short answer is that it takes some time and effort to make a da- tabase for the pests on a particular course. This doesn't mean superintendents have to become experts — the goals are to determine when these insects occur, develop a reasonable understanding of their life cycle in the area, and observe how weather conditions may af - fect their abundance and timing. The same process can be applied to diseases, as we know that certain weather conditions promote the occurrence of particular diseases. We are in the process of building a data - base for the annual bluegrass weevil in North Carolina. A longtime pest of cool-season turf in the Northeast, the weevil is now found in the southwestern mountains of North Caro - lina just a few miles north of the Georgia state line. The higher elevation encourages the growth of cool-season grasses, and the an - nual bluegrass weevil has found this southern home to its liking. Our preliminary research indicates, however, that the weevil's life cycle is much different in this area than it is in areas much further north. Developing a database does not have to be time-consuming, expensive or too detailed. Mole crickets, for example, are turfgrass pests in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. In other words, they cause problems everywhere. Although these insects look alike and there are only a few species, the life cycle varies considerably depending on the location. The best time to control mole crickets is shortly after hatching. Depending on the species and its geographic location, egg hatch can occur over a two- to three-week period or nearly year-round. Of course, this happens under the soil surface and often when mole cricket damage is not obvi - ous. In other words, standing on the surface and looking down will not tell you when egg hatch will happen. Superintendents can fll that informa - tion gap by conducting soapy water fushes. A "soapy water fush" involves mixing a few ounces of liquid dishwashing detergent in 2 gallons of water and then pouring the mixture over a 1-square-yard area where mole crickets are thought to live. Mole crickets are irritated by the soapy water solution and will usually come to the surface within a few minutes after application. Ideally, this exodus to the surface will provide a picture of what the population looks like beneath the soil. The effciency of this process is reduced when conditions are dry and the crickets are larger, but it is still

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