Dr. Pat Vittum is a respected turfgrass entomologist, and has been a member of the University of Massachusetts staff since 1980. She regularly contributes to UMass TurfTalk. If you manage cool-season turfgrass, subscribe to UMass Turftalk. It contains timely updates on issues related to turfgrass care.
In the most recent UMass TurfTalk, Dr. Vittum commented on this past winter’s impact on turfgrass pests. Here is an abbreviated version of the newsletter. (Click here for the more detailed version.)
White grubs were probably not impacted by the cold temperatures. Each of the species we see regularly in New England is well adapted to moving downward in the soil profile during the fall, and they are able to move as deep as necessary to stay below the frost line.
Annual bluegrass weevils were probably not impacted by the cold temperatures. They have a well-designed mechanism that replaces much of the fluid in their bodies with a liquid that functions as an anti-freeze, and enables them to withstand cold temperatures while they spend the winter near the surface.
Chinchbugs and billbugs use the same kind of mechanism as the annual bluegrass weevils, overwintering as adults in somewhat protected locations. If they got through November, they probably survived the rest of the winter very well.
Invasive craneflies are the big question mark for me. They are relatively new to the Northeast, and I don’t have a good sense of how tolerant they are of cold temperatures. They have thrived for years in the Pacific Northwest, which is much more temperate than the northeastern U.S. It is possible that our near-record cold temperatures this past winter overwhelmed their overwintering strategy in Massachusetts. Tipula oleracea normally would be flying in mid to late April, but I assume that flight will be delayed a bit this year. Watch for the pupae sticking out of the ground as the telltale indicator that the adults will be emerging within the next 24 hours.
As always, please keep me posted on what you are seeing “out there.”
Submitted by: Dr. Pat Vittum