My research is centered on the biology and ecology of three major insect pests of turfgrass in New Jersey and the Northeast (white grubs, annual bluegrass weevil [ABW], black cutworm) and the development of biological control and integrated pest management technology for these pests. Preventive insecticide applications have become the standard for these pests but are expensive, of limited compatibility with IPM, and do not work well against some white grub species and often require several applications per year for ABW. ABW has also developed widespread broad insecticide resistance. There is a dire need for the development of alternative control agents and control strategies. Current research activities include the following:
Sustainable control options for ABW
We are studying aspects of its biology and ecology relevant for the development of better management tactics. We are studying the scope and mechanisms of insecticide resistance to help with the development of better resistance management recommendations. We are developing biological and biorational control options for controlling ABW adults and larvae. We are studying if the preference of ABW for annual bluegrass, a highly invasive weed grass on short-mown golf course turf, can be used to suppress annual bluegrass by using a threshold approach to ABW management in combination with plant growth regulators. We are examining whether Silicon fertilization can increase the tolerance of turfgrass to ABW feeding and whether the stronger beneficial effects thus far observed in creeping bentgrass can be used to help this preferred grass species better outcompete annual bluegrass.
Development of sustainable control options for black cutworm
We have shown that several nematode products can provide adequate field control and may be an option for areas where chemical insecticide use is restricted. We are further testing species combinations, sequential applications, and modifications of irrigation patterns to optimize nematode efficacy.
Development of entomopathogenic nematodes for curative control and long-term suppression of white grubs and other turfgrass insect pests
We are testing new strains/species of entomopathogenic nematodes (EPN) for curative and long-term management of white grubs. Mixtures of locally isolated EPNs have shown an improved persistence and long-term suppressive effects on ABW, white grubs, and several other turfgrass pests strain. We continue with these studies with new white grub adapted EPN strains/species.
Testing of new insecticidal compounds
We are collaborating with the chemical industry to test new and safer insecticides for the control of white grubs, ABW, and black cutworm.
Research Currently Supported by the Center for Turgrass Science
Development of IPM for major insect pest with emphasis on ABW including (a) optimizing approaches to using ABW for the suppression of annual bluegrass and (b) studying Silicon fertilization to increase tolerance of turfgrass to ABW and help creeping bentgrass outcompete annual bluegrass.