IPM Planning for Turfgrass

Key Points

  • Select insect and mite resistant or tolerant species species, cultivars or varieties when planting or re-planting turfgrass areas
  • Use minimum amounts of slow-release nitrogen fertilizer
  • Maintain minimal thatch layer
  • Mow and water properly
  • Avoid unnecessary use of pesticides which destroy organisms that decompose thatch and other beneficials
  • Scout and monitor for pest populations using one or more of the available techniques:
    • liquid irritants (1 oz liquid soap per gallon of water) sprinkled over a square yard of turf causes mobile above-ground pests to come to the surface;
    • black light traps monitors June beetle (adults of white grubs) and sod webworm moth flight peaks;
    • flotation technique for monitoring chinch bugs where an opened coffee can is driven into the thatch filled with water, and the chinch bugs float to the surface; and,
    • 3-to 4-inch diameter, 4-inch deep core samples are used to monitor white grubs

Chemical Treatment

Decisions to implement insecticide treatments should be based on current or historic detection of the pest and/or damage occurrence, and not on a scheduled, preventive insecticide-based treatment regimen. More often than not, the occurrence of damaging levels of insect pests is an indication of a more basic agronomic problem (e.g., too much or too little fertilizer, watering practices) that, if corrected, will prevent further outbreaks of these “secondary” pests. However, even when sound agronomic practices are closely followed, a probability of pest outbreaks exists. When outbreaks do occur, effective methods of suppressing damaging population levels must be implemented.

Table 1. The approximate seasonal occurrence of major arthropod pests on turf, particularly for the coastal and central regions of Texas (—-‘s and XXXX’s indicating the hypothetical occurrence and period of peak activity and TTTT’s possible treatment periods).

Commodity and Pest Month
Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
Fall armyworms . —- —- . . -XTX- XTXT XTX- .
White grubs . . -XX- XXXX —- –TT TT— T—- . .
Chinch bugs . . . -XX- -XT- XTXT XTXT XTX- . . .
Mole Crickets . . . . -TT- -TT- . -XXX- XXXX XXXX -XX- .
Bermudagrass stunt mite . . . . . . . . . . . .
Fire ants -XX- -XX- -XTX XTTX XTXT -XX- -XX- -XX- XTXTX XTXT -XX- -XX-
Fleas . –XX -XXX- -XX- -XX- -XX– -XX- -XX– —-
Chiggers . . –XX XXXX X— —- —- —- . .

Action Thresholds

Armyworms: Treat when large numbers of small-to-medium-size worms are present and damage is becoming excessive.
White grubs (immature June beetles): Examine turf during the suggested treatment period. Treatment is justified when more than 4 grubs per 1-foot (4 inches deep) per 1000 ft2 of lawn are found, or if there is a history of annual outbreaks.
Chinch bugs: Treatment should be initiated at first signs of damage when chinch bug populations are present.
Crickets (field crickets, mole crickets): Treat when annoying populations exist and damage becomes evident. For mole crickets, test when young nymphal stages are present (late May, June).
Mites (Banks grass mite, Bermudagrass stunt mite): Treat or mow when mites are present and causing damage.
Fire ants: Treat to prevent mound or ant activity that interferes with turf usage, using the best combination of tactics to achieve management objectives.
Fleas: Treat as part of a total flea management program that includes treatment of household, pets and yard.
Ticks: Treat when ticks become numerous.
Chiggers: Use repellents when entering infested areas. Use insecticide applications to suppress bothersome infestations when they occur.