European crane fly damage and larvae found on some golf courses in Detroit area

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.      

Last fall and early this summer, superintendents at several golf courses in the greater Detroit area saw some unusual thinning of turf on tees and sometimes greens. Most of the affected turf had not been treated with insecticide in fall 2009 or spring of 2010. Initially, it was thought to be grub damage. This spring Susan Shockey worked with the superintendents to discover that the turf injury was caused by European crane fly. An application of Sevin to an infested tee earlier this week brought hundreds of crane fly larvae to the surface, so be prepared for this if you spray! This is a great example of how the Michigan Turf Foundation (MTF) and MSU work together.

MTF funded a research project on European crane fly three years ago. As a result of our light-trapping program, we found the least damaging and most widespread of the two European species, Tipula oleraceae, in four locations in southeast Michigan in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, we found the second, more destructive species, Tipula paludosa, at one location in southeast Michigan. This information was passed on to our golf course superintendents and turf industry professionals at the Michigan Turfgrass Conference (now part of the Great Lakes Trade Expo) each year. Thanks to the funding provided by MTF, and the alertness of Sue Shockey and our superintendents, we were able to find the first cases of turf damage caused by European crane fly very quickly.

For information on identification and management of European crane fly, you can read a recent article in Golf Course Management at: Near the end of this article is a summary table that lists Sevin, Acelepryn, and Arena as good choices for a preventive insecticide application (in October), and Arena and Safari as good choices for a curative insecticide application (in late May). It is likely that most of the spring and early summer damage will soon be over. However, if lots of crane fly larvae are still being found, Sevin can be used at this time. Also, Dr. Dan Peck at Cornell University, has indicated that if Arena or Acelepryn is applied in July for grubs, it should protect turf against European crane fly this fall (also preventive for the following year). I do not know at this time if Arena or Acelepryn applied in May will provide adequate protection in October, or how well other grub control products work. We will be working on European crane fly more now that it is established in Michigan.

Dr. Smitley’s work is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

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