Targeting Cultural Practices to Optimize the Management of Annual Bluegrass Weevil with Entomopathogenic Nematodes

Date: 

2015 to 2018

Summary: 

This project seeks to determine if cultural practices (compost and sand application) can be used on golf course fairways to improve biological control of annual bluegrass weevil (ABW) using entomopathogenic nematodes. Composts and sand alter soil physical and chemical conditions. These changes in soil conditions may improve soil habitat traits for nematodes, and thus may improve establishment and efficacy of nematodes against ABW. We will assess the relationship between golf course cultural practices and biological control on golf courses in Central and Western, NY.

Issue: 

Although significant effort has gone into research on biological control tactics for this pest there are still few feasible methods available to turf managers. Recent studies have shown that entomopathogenic nematodes (EPNs) can provide up to 90% control of ABW in the field, however soil heterogeneity significantly alters EPN efficacy. Additionally, soil conditions in areas typically infested with ABW are often poor, and are incapable of supporting EPNs. Our project will assess the potential for improving EPN field efficacy against ABW through the use of cultural practices that reduce environmental variability and enhance soil habitat quality for EPNs.

Response: 

We will test the feasibility of using cultural practices to improve local soil conditions in ABW infested areas to optimize EPN establishment, infectivity, and persistence. The cultural practices we will employ (top dressing and aerification) are familiar to golf turf managers, however we will test the feasibility of using a less traditional top dressing method (targeted top dressing applications along fairway perimeters) to improve soil habitat quality for EPNs. To our knowledge, this will be the first study to attempt to optimize EPN field efficacy through improvement of soil conditions using common turfgrass cultural practices.

Impact: 

Annual bluegrass weevil is highly resistant to traditional pyrethriod insecticides, and there is a clear need for alternative, non-chemical approaches for managing this pest. Improvement of EPN efficacy will diversify pest management options for annual bluegrass weevil and contribute to reducing reliance on pyrethroids and managing pyrethroid resistance. By identifying cultural practices that improve soil habitat quality for EPN establishment and persistence our project seeks to make EPNs a more feasible and reliable management option for superintendents to use against ABW.
The project seeks to advance knowledge on managing soil characteristics to promote successful biological control in turf.

Submitted by: 

  • Grant, Jennifer

Researchers involved: 

  • Wickings, Kyle
  • Grant, Jennifer
  • Lampman, Joellen

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York