Turf Pest of the Month: How to stay on top of ABW outbreaks

By |  August 18, 2023 0 Comments
Keith Kresina

Keith Kresina

Keith Kresina, director of grounds at The Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio, knows exactly when his annual bluegrass weevil (ABW) problem started. In 2019, Kresina brought in sod to patch up his fairways after a wet summer left some low spots that didn’t heal in time for the spring; the rest is history.

“To make a long story short, Keith did a great job of inoculating his golf course with ABW because I put a little bit of sod here and a little bit of sod there,” he jokes.

Years later, Kresina is a seasoned pro at controlling the pest and will share his knowledge with anyone who will listen.

“I like to remind people that it did come in on bentgrass sod,” he says. “Everyone thinks, ‘Well, I’ve got bentgrass, so I don’t have to worry about ABW.’ People want to act a little maverick about it and think they don’t need to scout and do their due diligence.”

Don’t panic

Kresina’s No. 1 tip to superintendents who face ABW damage is to stay calm.

Annual bluegrass weevil struck The Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio, after a sod installation. The pest then quickly spread from sod squares to the rest of the course. (Photos: Chris Allender)

Annual bluegrass weevil struck The Golf Club in New Albany, Ohio, after a sod installation. The pest then quickly spread from sod squares to the rest of the course. (Photos: Chris Allender)

“I’ll never forget the panic I felt when we first saw the damage,” he says. “My heart sank. It was sickening.”

His first move — after collecting his thoughts — was to use the resources at his disposal. Kresina made several calls and eventually connected with Ben McGraw, Ph.D., at Penn State University.

“He helped calm me down,” he says. “As superintendents, what we want to do when we see the adults crawling around is go out, spray ’em and be done with ’em. But that’s far from what you should do with this insect because it’s good at getting around with the multiple generations it will go through in a season.”

With McGraw’s help, Kresina developed a program for control.

“Having that system in place has simplified things for me,” he says. “We do it on five fairways where we had problems and three more alternating sites just off the fairway next to irrigation heads. It’s important to make sure that you’re applying these products on that first generation at the appropriate time.”

Trust the process

This year, Kresina’s ABW control program began in April and concluded in July. He says that isn’t a constant, and it could change from year to year.

“If I made the first application on April 15 last year, that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m making it on that same day this year,” he says. “it depends on what the season is like, not necessarily what the calendar says.”

Kresina begins with applications of Syngenta’s Scimitar GC (lambda-cyhalothrin) when adult migration is at its peak. This year at his course — just northeast of Columbus, Ohio — that was on April 19. He followed up his April application with Quali-Pro’s Suprado (novaluron) on May 4. On July 5, he concluded the program with an application of Syngenta’s Ference (cyantraniliprole).

Stay vigilant

Kresina also stresses it’s crucial to stay alert for signs of damage all across your course. He says adults are adept at hitching rides on equipment and making a home wherever they can.

“I’m not taking any chances,” he adds. “Once this insect was on our property, we saw it move rapidly. It’s being transported around in grass clippings or on other equipment. There are a lot of factors that can lead to the movement of ABW once you’ve got it on your course.”

The insect has worked its way around quite a bit at The Golf Club. He gives an example of damage found on his 16th tee box, an area nowhere near the sod project that brought the pest to his course.

“Luckily, those are predominantly (bentgrass), but they have some Poa mixed in with them,” he says. “The adults went in and took out every Poa plant to the point where we had to fertilize and get the bentgrass to cover up those spots.”

This article is tagged with , and posted in From the Magazine, Turf Pest of the Month

About the Author: Rob DiFranco

Rob DiFranco is Golfdom's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Golfdom, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio

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