In the early 1990s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) surveyed turf entomologists from land-grant universities around the country to determine the relative importance of insect turf pests by region. Scientists determined the importance of the one or two most problematic pest groups in their regions based on the numbers of insecticide applications made in those areas to eradicate those pests. However, beyond simply identifying the major pest groups (see "Pests," below), the entomologists found it difficult to determine pest importance because the ranges of insects are constantly changing. Although scientists can, in many cases, estimate the potential range of a pest, determining which insects will achieve "pest status" in a particular region from year to year is not always possible. Therefore, you should inspect and monitor pests regularly. It is important to be familiar with the pests that exist in your area as well as those that have the potential to exist, because-as mentioned-pests have a tendency to spread. Many factors contribute to the spread of pests into new regions: cold temperatures that deplete natural enemies, spring winds, increased nursery production, increased and improved landscape maintenance and the increase of human mobility.
Table 1 describes the relative importance of turf pests between the nine regions of the United States. For example, the table shows the significance of foliar insects as problematic pests in New England compared to the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast. The relative importance of each pest group across all regions is based on a scale of 0 to 100.
Table 2 shows the various pest weights by regions. For example, the Pacific Northwest has a value of 60 for soil insects, which indicates that subsoil insects are responsible for 60 percent of the turf-insect problems in that region.
Overall, subsoil insects are the most damaging pests in the country, followed by surface pests and foliar insects. Nuisance pests are of little importance to turf. However, homeowners apply a lot of insecticides to control these pests in their lawns.
Source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Grounds Maintenance, April 1993.
Foliar insects: bermudagrass mite, winter grain mite, spittlebug, hairy chinch bug, southern chinch bug, greenbug, rhodesgrass mealybug, dichondra flea beetle, frit fly and grasshopper.
Subsoil insects and mite pests: southern mole cricket, tawny mole cricket, ground pearls, black ataenius, green June beetle, masked chafers, Asiatic garden beetle, European masked chafer, May and June beetles, Japanese beetle, oriental beetle and European crane fly.
Surface- (thatch-) inhabiting insects: sod webworms, cutworms, armyworms, fiery skipper, bluegrass billbug, hunting billbug and annual billbug.
Nuisance insects: ants, cicadas, pillbugs, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, crickets and earwigs.
Insects of public health importance: cicada killer, harvester ants, wild bees and yellow jackets, chiggers, ticks, fleas, cockroaches and spiders.
Fire ants: black and red.
* Categories above include pests associated with turf but not limited to those listed.
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