Archive for June, 2012

Insects galore

 What is causing all these brown patches in my turf?  The list is pretty long at the moment.  It could be:

  • black turfgrass ataenius (golf course turf)
  • hairy chinch bug (home lawns)
  • bluegrass billbug (home lawns)


Areas of turf on golf courses that are showing signs of wilt when the turf is well watered could be infested with black turfgrass ataenius grubs.  Turf in these areas will pull up easily because the roots have been pruned.  The actual grubs are usually at the edge of the wilted areas where the turf is still healthy looking and there are still roots for the grubs to feed on.  The good news is that it is usually only the first generation of BTA that cause damage. (more…)

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And it has also been very, very dry in most areas of southwestern Ontario.  The weather forecast is for a humidex over 30 degrees C for at least the next week with no rain in sight.  The windy conditions are also resulting in very high evapotranspiration rates.  Much of the non-irrigated turf is showing some drought stress and on the lighter textured soils the turf is also going dormant.  This post is just a reminder of what to do and what not to do during high temperatures and low soil moisture.

If turf is showing signs of drought stress – leaves are folded in on themselves, turf has a blueish cast and footprints remain visible in the turf after you walk on it – it is best to keep traffic off of it, especially in the heat of the day ro the result will be heat tracks.  This symptom is sometimes confused with Pythium blight.  This is also a good time to suspend any cultural practices such as topdressing, aeration and to raise the height of cut, if possible.  (more…)

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Over the last few days, Japanese beetle adult flights have been noticeable around the landscape. They tend to emerge a few weeks later than European chafer adults.  Unlike the European chafer,adult Japanese beetles feed on a wide variety of ornamental and fruit crops and adults can be seen during the day time hours.  Adult Japanese beetles are very easy to identify.  They are metallic green and have 6 tufts of white hairs on the sides of their wing covers.Japanese beetle adult

Adults live and feed from anywhere from 4-6 weeks.  During that time adult females will lay eggs.  These eggs take 2 weeks to hatch and spend roughly two weeks as second instars and roughly three weeks as third instars.  Control measures for Japanese beetles on golf courses are similar to those for European chafers.  The goal is to apply the products prior to egg hatch when there has been a history of Japanese beetle damage or when large populations of adults are observed.  All Japanese beetle control products must be watered in to be effective.  On home lawns, lawns with observed Japanese beetle adult infestations should be treated with a Steinernema glaseri or Heterhorabditis bacteriophora in mid-late August.

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The thunder storms that rolled through southwestern Ontario last night gave the perfect conditions for an outbreak of dollar spot accompanied by fluffy aerial mycelium in the morning. 

aerial mycelium associated with dollar spot

Dollar spot infection with aerial mycelium

Erica Gunn and I had a look at it on the research greens here at GTI and we thought it might be an outbreak of Pythium blight.  We brought a sample into the lab here at GTI and had a look at the mycelium under the compound microscope.  The good news is that the mycelium had cross walls and V branching – so indeed was just dollar spot and not Pythium blight.

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Golf superintendents in Ontario are scratching their heads at the moment.  This is because they are seeing adult annual bluegrass weevils, very tiny larvae and large damaging larvae all at the same time.  The adults are most certainly the second generation that have completed their life cycle already this year.  They are the results of the very early migration of the annual bluegrass weevil adults in mid to late March.  The large damaging larvae are probably a result of the second wave of annual bluegrass migration from the middle of May.  We are probably seeing the damage at the moment from this migration and it probably accounts for about 50-60% of the annual bluegrass weevil population.  The photo below was taken by Rhod Trainor at Hamilton Golf and Country Club and shows damage from annual bluegrass weevils.  The good news is that at this point, most of the damage has been done.

annual bluegrass weevil damage

Turf on the left is annual bluegrass that has been damaged by annual bluegrass weevil and the turf on the right is sodded creeping bentgrass with no damage.

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Army worm damage

I received a fantastic photo of the kind of army worm damage people are encountering in turf at the moment from Gerry Okimi from Turf King.  It shows a 10 metre swath of dead turf in a home lawn adjacent to a field of wheat.  Calls have come in to report this type of damage to sports fields as well.

army worm damage

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European chafer adults have been flying now in most areas of southwestern Ontario for about a week already.  This is about a week earlier than average.  The best time of day to monitor for them is at dusk (roughly 9:00 pm at the moment).  Adult chafers emerge from the soil at dusk and swarm in nearby trees for about 15- 20 minutes where females and males mate.  Pick an area where there are trees and watch the trees for the adult chafer swarms.  Flights are usually heaviest on warm, still evenings.  For residential areas where heavy adult flights are observed, nematode treatments can be applied once all the European chafer eggs have hatched.  This is usually by mid-August.  For golf courses, preventative grub applications can be made at anytime now.  For more information on European chafers go to the OMAFRA website at http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/08-023w.htm

European chafer adult

European chafer adult on short cut turf in the morning

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Calls and emails have been coming in from homeowners, sportsfield managers and sod farmers about caterpillars munching through the turf over the last 2-3 days.  Army worms have invaded Ontario.  They are abundant in the US east of the Rocky Mountains and they are a pest grain crops.  They do not overwinter in Ontario but adult moths fly up each spring to lay their eggs, similar to the black cutworm.  They are smooth caterpillars with alternating dark brown and yellow stripes. The photo below is courtesy of Dr. David Shetlar.



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This morning during a routine soap flush, Peter Purvis (GTI’s Station Manager) found black cutworms. 

black cutworm after soap flush

Black cutworm after soap flush

Black cutworms fly in each spring from the southern US and the female lays her eggs on the terminal portion of the grass blade.


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