- Agronomic: grass (turfgrass, sod)
- Education and Training: display
- Pest Management: cultural control
Sod farmers and professional turf managers in the Midwest are facing an increasing problem with billbugs, a tiny weevil (beetle) that can damage turf in both its larval and adult stages. Small billbug larvae feed within the grass stems and then eventually burrow down to the soil and feed the roots and crowns when they become bigger.
Conventional control practices rely heavily on using insecticides, which usually require repeat, broadcast applications in spring and fall. The failure of chemicals being able to control of billbugs is partially due to the difficulty of delivering insecticides to where the billbugs are, and not surprisingly, this has resulted in the spread of billbugs and an increase in their populations in localized areas. As a consequence, sod farmers and professional turf managers have started to use higher dosages of insecticides with increased application frequencies. The proposed research, instead, will examine a novel approach to remove the adult billbug from the affected turf. As a nocturnal species, billbug adults come up to the turf surface in the night and engage in various activities including feeding and mating. Using professional turf sweepers, we can specifically target on the billbugs and remove them from the affected turf, and hence control the pest by interrupting their life cycles. The proposed experiment was carried out at a local golf course in Columbia, Missouri. Treatments, including mechanical control using sweeper, and a conventional insecticide control program and a non-treated control, were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replications. Individual plot size were 9m × 30m and placed 10 meters apart to minimize possible re-introduction of billbugs into the treated-plots. In addition to turf performance which was detected using a handheld sensor, weekly monitoring of billbug adult populations were performed by installing and monitoring ten pitfall traps randomly in each plot. The expected outcome was the development of a strategy for control of billbugs that minimize insecticide application to turf areas.
This project aimed to develop a billbug control method using mechanical approach, and consequently reduce insecticide application and costs associated with repeated use of insecticides.