What’s the one key thing golf course superintendents need to remember when making an insecticide application?

Editor’s note: In July and August, Superintendent magazine will feature a two-part Q&A series on insecticide technology. In each segment, representatives from the industry’s vast number of chemical companies will be asked one question in regard to insecticide technology. The representatives’ answers are listed along with their photos. Later in the year we’ll feature a Q&A about herbicide technology. Earlier this year we focused on fungicide technology.

Jen Bergh | Market Development Specialist, BASF Specialty Products

Insect pests aren’t always obvious, and superintendents have to be able to read cues in the environment to anticipate and treat problems. For example, the appearance of adult crane flies signals that the pest life stage – the larvae – will be emerging and doing damage soon. In another scenario an insect itself might not be damaging, but its presence attracts other animals that damage turf: Raccoons digging in a green for grubs will destroy the turf to get to them. Drench insecticides can reach these pests, while surface applications require enough water to penetrate turf. Pest identification, product selection to target the vulnerable life stage and appropriate application methods are critical for success.

Jerry Corbett | Technical Services Manager/ Product Development, Quali-Pro

I hear a lot of questions about the best time to apply an insecticide, particularly imidacloprid, when trying to control grubs on a golf course. Apply too early and you’re wasting product and money; too late and you’re fighting an uphill battle. My best advice is to wait until late June into early July when adult beetles emerge. Local universities often track beetle sightings online and are great and often overlooked resources. The ideal time to apply imidacloprid is when these websites report a sighting or you see the first adult beetles. This application timing ensures you expose the grubs early to the insecticide for year-round grub and beetle control.

Rick Fletcher | Technical Services Manager, Nufarm

Two key things: location and duration. Assuming that we have identified the pest and reviewed the research literature to understand the activity and efficacy of the product choice, applying the product in the proper location to interact with the damaging phase of the insect is important. Having it present in that location long enough to interact with the present threat, but also to cover potential near-term outbreaks resulting from changing conditions is also important.

Owen Towne | President, Phoenix/UPI

It’s difficult to name a specific item, since satisfactory control depends on the interaction of many factors – life cycle of insect, weather, soil and spray solution pH, soil moisture, economic threshold, proper spray volume, correct pest identification, resistance consideration, preventive versus curative treatment, systemic versus contact activity and appropriate product selection. Of these various factors, the key items are the correct identification of the pest and its life cycle stage, and application of an insecticide that is registered for control of the pest. Superintendents should also consider rotating products with differing modes of action to prevent potential pest-resistance issues.

Colleen Tocci | Marketing Manager, Engage Agro USA

Make sure the product you use “greets” the target pest – deliver the product and make sure it’s effective. Many insecticide labels define “optimal conditions” for product application, such as soils shouldn’t be too wet or too dry, or conditions must ensure lateral movement of the chemical. It has been shown that treating soil with a quality soil surfactant – or mixing if the label permits – enhances the performance of many insecticides. Additionally, to ensure effectiveness, use different active ingredient products in rotation or mixed together to reduce the risk of insect resistance.

Doug Houseworth | Turf and Ornamental Technical Manager, Arysta LifeScience

First, the superintendent should identify the insect pest. Next, he should determine the life stage of the insect causing the damage to then select the appropriate insecticide. For adult insects present, feeding and/or laying eggs, consider an application of a strong knockdown product containing bifenthrin or other synthetic pyrethroids. Or, if the superintendent discovers the larval stage, he should use products with a strong larvicide containing neonicotinoids. Products targeted towards adults should not be watered in, while products directed at larvae feeding on the roots should be watered in. Combination products with both an adulticide and a larvicide may delay watering in until 24 to 48 hours after application.

Dina Richman | Insecticide Product Development Manager, FMC Professional Solutions

First and foremost, be safe and always read and follow the label. On a deeper level, it’s important to test the pH of your water. In the case of pyrethroids, if the water or the product is more alkaline (pH between 8 to 10), it can cause some insecticides to degrade faster. We go to great lengths to produce a formulation with the right pH, optimal particle size for enhanced coverage, and ideal suspension characteristics for a better tank mix and to ensure no hot/cold spots when it’s applied.

Rob Golembiewski | Bayer Green Solutions Team

Prior to any insecticide application, the insect must be correctly identified and in a susceptible stage of development in order to achieve effective control. Once the proper insecticide and rate have been chosen, the superintendent must remember to take the appropriate steps during application for optimum control. The first step is to ensure that the insecticide is placed within the turf environment where it will come in contact with the insect. Other important considerations include making sure appropriate soil moisture is present prior to the application, [and] good uniform application distribution and irrigation following application if needed.

Brady Surrena | Turf and Ornamental Area Manager-Midwest, SipcamAdvan

The most important element of managing any pest population is an in-depth understanding of the life cycle of the target pest. I prefer to say “manage” versus “control,” because the best we can hope for is to chemically and culturally maintain the population below a level of economic significance. In the case of insect management, the key is understanding the pest life cycle and factors that favor large populations. Turf managers can use that information to select the correct chemical and cultural solutions to find the most efficient method for keeping populations low. I use Harry Niemczyk’s book, “Destructive Turf Insects,” as a reference guide so safe, effective applications of insect pest management products can be made.

Mike Agnew | Northeast Field Technical Manager, Syngenta

It’s important to thoughtfully read the label before choosing and applying an insecticide. I suggest considering the insecticide control spectrum, insect life cycle stages, application timing and rates, and insecticide mode of action. Careful selection of the appropriate product and application timing may eliminate the need for additional treatments. To help prevent resistance in insects, especially those with multiple generations, rotating classes of chemistry is critical. Avoid the overuse of a single class of chemistry and ensure you are applying it correctly so you don’t disturb nontarget insects such as pollinators.

Jim Goodrich | Product Manager for Fungicides, Insecticides and PGRs, PBI-Gordon

The one key thing superintendents need to remember when making an insecticide application is to read the entire label before making the application. Oftentimes, this simple step is overlooked because [the applicator] may have used the product previously and knows the usage rate. Not only does the label outline how to apply a product, it also states specific instructions on the handling. What is forgotten or not realized is the label is the letter of the law, as it is a violation of federal law to use the product in any manner inconsistent with the label.