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Management Updates

This section of the web site features Management Updates written by the turf specialists of the UMass Extension Turf Program. The messages cover regional problems, are geared toward regional conditions, and are posted frequently during the growing season.

The most current message appears below; click into the archive to see messages from the current and previous growing seasons.

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Annual Bluegrass Weevils, Mole Crickets

Sep 7 2018

While I was at the Alumni Turf Group charity event at Winged Foot on Tuesday (a wildly successful event, by the way!!!), I spoke with several superintendents and commiserated regarding the challenges of the recent summer. I gleaned two items of interest from those conversations.

  1. Several superintendents mentioned that they have been seeing damage from annual bluegrass weevil (ABW) the past week or so. While the season seemed to be relatively "quiet" on the weevil front for most people in the Northeast, I think the unusually high amounts of rain throughout July and part of August might have masked weevil activity. In any case, I suspect the larvae that are present right now in the metropolitan New York area are probably late third generation. The good news is that they should be done feeding very soon, AND the lower temperatures that are finally occurring should help the grass outgrow the damage. Just note the "hot spots" and make a mental note for next year, especially if the damage is showing up in places you don't usually see it.
  2. One superintendent mentioned that he saw large numbers of mole crickets in late July, shortly after a heavy rain. Believe it or not, we do have mole crickets in the Northeast. Very creatively, the common name of the species we occasionally see on turf in New England is the "northern mole cricket", Neocurtilla hexadactyla. We usually see mole cricket activity near ponds or slow-moving streams. We do not usually get reports of damage, but the infestation described to me in Westchester County included considerable evidence of mole cricket tunneling.

An article by Rethwisch et al. (2009) describes the species as widely distributed across the eastern two thirds of the United States. Little is known about its biology. I am not aware of any field studies that have been conducted to identify any control options, although dragging the affected area should at least knock down mounds. A soapy flush should irritate them and force them to come to the surface.

If you see any mole cricket activity, please send us pictures of the damage - and a couple photos that provide a description of the surrounding area (nearby pond or stream). And if you can track the insects down, feel free to send us some specimens! (You can package them in a tightly capped vial with rubbing alcohol, put the vial in a ziplock bag, and package in a small box with padding.)

M. D. Rethwisch, F. P. Baxendale, and D. R. Dollison. 2009. First report of northern mole cricket damage on a Nebraska golf course. J. Kansas Entomological Soc. 82(1): 103-105.

Submitted by: Dr. Pat Vittum