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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Lawn, Turf and Grassland Pests

Authors
item Klein, Michael
item Grewal, Parwinder - OSU
item Jackson, Trevor - AG RESEARCH, NEW ZEALAND

Submitted to: Microbial Control of Invertebrate Pests A Field Manual
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 15, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Grasses are the primary vegetation in many environments varying in size and composition from the great prairies to pastures and hard-wearing grasses which create recreational spaces in the urban environment. The latter occupies about 30 million acres in the US, comprised of over 50 million lawns, 14,500 golf courses, many parks, athletic fields, cemeteries and sod farms. Besides its recreational uses, grass controls soil erosion, captures and cleans run-off water, moderates temperature and improves the physical and mental health of urban populations. Turf maintenance has become a $45 billion per year industry, with a substantial amount of this spent on the control of a variety of harmful insects. Numerous microbial organisms such as beneficial bacteria, fungi and nematodes are available for control of turf and grassland pests. However, additional research is needed to allow greater use of those organisms in a wider segment of the pest control market. This chapter provides step by step instructions on the proper field application techniques for testing microorganisms against lawn turf and grassland pests. It also details examples of successful evaluations of bacteria, fungi and nematodes which have been done in the past. The methods provided in this chapter will allow researchers in public and private institutions to examine future biological control agents using proper test methods. The new information gained from that work will benefit rural and urban inhabitants by providing them with realistic alternatives to the conventional chemical pesticides which are relied on today.

Technical Abstract: Grasses are the dominant vegetation in many environments and provide a stable habitat for many species of invertebrates, most of which are benign or beneficial, with less than 1% acquiring pest status. However, amenity turf is under constant critical scrutiny from the public and its high cosmetic value and low damage thresholds have led to a large number of insect species being regarded as pests. Several microbial organisms are available for control of turf and grassland pests. These include bacteria such as Bacillus thuringiensis for use against lepidopterran, scarab and diptern pests, as well as the casual agents of milky disease and amber disease. Two genera of fungi, Beauveria and the green muscardine fungus, Metarhizium anisopliae, also show potential for the biological control of insects in turf. In addition, Insect-pathogenic (entomopathogenic) nematodes (Steinernema and Heterorhabditis spp.) are well suited for pest control in turfgrass because they attack a broad range of pests and can be easily applied with conventional spray equipment. This chapter covers detailed procedures for field application techniques for these microorganisms. It outlines trial designs from microplots to large scale field plots and sampling methods such as trapping, collection from the surface, flushes and flotation and sampling from the soil. It also provides specific examples of published techniques for application of pathogens from the main groups of microbial control agents.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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