UAC Magazine - Spring 2021

Page 56


Beneficial insects in turfgrass Clay models track activity by Allison Fortner for CAES News Though the clay model approach has been used in other disciplines to observe predator activity, Joseph and Khan found no previous use of the method in turfgrass research. This study developed clay models as a tool to aid in future research. “It’s kind of brain hack of the predator. We want to see how much the real predator interacts with the model based only on the visual cues,” said Khan, a Fulbright scholar who came to UGA to study eco-friendly pest management options, specifically beneficial insects. Entomology researchers can study predator activity in turfgrass by the markings predators leave in clay models.

Modeling clay isn’t limited to art classrooms


and sculpting studios. University of Georgia researchers developed a tool to track beneficial insects in turfgrass systems using clay models. Tracking these good predators can help develop eco-friendly pest management techniques for both home lawns and commercial sod growers.


In a recently published article in Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, UGA scientists determined that beneficial predator insects will interact with and leave distinct markings on clay models that resemble their prey, in this case the larvae of turfgrass pests. This study was led by entomology doctoral candidate Fawad Khan under the guidance of Assistant Professor Shimat Joseph in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences on the UGA Griffin campus. “We want to know who the predators are and what kind of impressions these predators will create on these clay models. Before we do anything in the field, we need to have a sense of what that looks like,” said Joseph, a turfgrass entomologist.

The need for research The turfgrass industry contributes $9 billion to Georgia’s economy each year, but one of the high costs is pest management. Joseph said that the use of insecticides not only cuts into grower profits but requires valuable time, labor and equipment. The use of biological controls, such as natural predator insects, could mean only using chemical management when pest numbers rise beyond a certain threshold. Harmful pests such as fall armyworms cause problems for turf growers and homeowners alike. Though there are natural predators that attack pests in their larval stage, it's difficult to study the activity since they leave little evidence. The goal of Khan and Joseph’s research was to identify predator interactions and use that knowledge in commercial and residential turf. But before they could do so, they needed a method to measure how predators interacted with their prey. In this study, researchers created two sizes of simulated larvae from modeling clay. Then they collected natural predators from turf lawns at UGA-Griffin. Each collected arthropod spent 48 hours in a petri dish with two sizes of clay larvae models. This was enough time for them to make their marks. Because the clay stays soft at room

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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