UAC Magazine - Spring 2021

Page 52


Something to buzz about

Grass flowers provide food for insect pollinators provided by USDA Agricultural Research Service

"This is vital research as we aim to protect the natural environment of pollinators that are the foundation of our food supply," said Karen Harris-Shultz, a research geneticist at the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Laboratory in Tifton, Georgia. "This new knowledge sets the baseline for future research to show that turfgrasses can serve as a food source for pollinators."

The power of observation

Shimat Joseph, University of Georgia

Spike-like inflorescences (flowers) of centipedegrass emerged 12 days after mowing in a residential lawn in Pike County, GA. The purple anthers, shown here, contain the pollen that is collected by bees.

Turfgrasses sometimes get a "bad rap" for not giving our bees and other insect


pollinators a helping hand on the food front. But Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Georgia (UGA) studies suggest this reputation is unfair—and at least five different genera of bees would agree!


In the world, 70 percent of the main crops used for human consumption at least in part depend on bees and other pollinators. Yet, worldwide, pollinators have been in decline for the last several decades. Turfgrasses are often blamed for the decline and it is often stated that turfgrasses are wind-pollinated, and thus useless for pollinators. The team's findings, published in the November issue of Insects, provided evidence to the contrary.

Centipedegrass is a popular turfgrass found mainly in the southeastern part of the United States and is known for its heat tolerance and low maintenance, making it a favorite among homeowners and landscapers but prior research had suggested that it is of little use to pollinators. However, for many years Harris-Shultz had noticed bumblebees and honeybees collecting pollen from the flowers of centipedegrass lawns. She mentioned this to UGA entomologist Shimat Joseph and UGA physiologist David Jespersen. They decided to start research projects to identify pollinators that pass through centipedegrass lawns and differentiate them from insects that directly collect pollen from centipedegrass flowers. To identify the types of pollinators foraging on the grass flowers, the researchers collected specimens from 11 centipedegrass lawns starting mid-August to the end of September. Using sweep nets, they homed in on insects that were foraging pollen from centipedegrass and were later identified in the lab by Joseph. Their specimens included bumble bees, honeybees, sweat bees and hoverflies. "Our collaboration with the University of Georgia has been exceedingly fruitful," said Harris-Shultz.

Articles inside

Beneficial insects in turfgrass Clay models track activity

pages 56-57

Urban agroforestry Potential integration into city planning efforts

pages 54-55

Something to buzz about Grass flowers provide food

pages 52-53

Vanilla Spice Oh, so nice summer sweetness

pages 50-51

Safely clean up storm debris Replace damaged trees with stronger ones

pages 48-49

2021 Sod Producers Report Annual survey examines inventory and price

pages 44-47

Guide to safe and courteous leaf blower use

page 35

Hemp production Examining potential issues

pages 38-41

NICH 2020 annual report Promoting consumer horticulture

pages 42-43

Blowing away leaf blower myths

page 34

Busting three myths about battery power

pages 28-30

Make COVID lemonade It's the perfect time to expand your business

page 32

Growth-based mindset How to go from prove to improve

pages 26-27

Pest 411 Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

pages 14-17

Safety works Workplace inspections

page 25

What the tech? 3 steps to a squeaky clean inbox

pages 20-21

GALA GALA is back and better than ever

page 7

A peek inside Legacy Turf Farms

pages 10-13

Me & my mentor Intentional Growth, Charles Brian Quinn

pages 8-9

Safety works Safety in the workplace

page 24

Executive Director message

page 5
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