During the last few years, we have seen the emergence of a new pest that primarily feeds on Empire Zoysia turf: Tuttle Mealybug.
Tuttle Mealybug is a warm season, piercing-sucking insect that is most often found feeding on and damaging Zoysia turf, specifically Empire Zoysia, although it can also be a pest of bermuda turf. They are damaging during all life stages. Control can be challenging because insects are hard to detect at low numbers, are difficult to reach with insecticides and have waxy secretions that protect them. When populations reach high levels, it may take several weeks or months to reduce below damaging levels. Heavily infested areas of turf turf appear generally unhealthy, resembling drought stress or disease (plant material turns yellow, brown, and dies back), and areas will gradually thin and decline.
Unfortunately, there is little research investigating the best strategies for managing Tuttle Mealybug. We have been working with the University of Florida and chemical manufacturers to develop a treatment plan that works for Tuttle Mealybug. We have recently completed tests on several properties using a combination of insecticidal soap, insect growth regulators, surfactants in concert with a rotation of three systemic insecticides and are seeing promising results.
Based on these tests, we are making a series of recommendations for treatment, control and recovery on all properties that have empire zoysia turf.
1. Preventative/Control: Tuttle Mealybug Control Program.
We are recommending all properties with empire zoysia have bi-weekly service from April to November when Tuttle is most active. Because there is no way to 100% prevent future infestations of Tuttle Mealybug, extra monitoring and service is important for prevention and control of damaging infestations.
2. Current infestations: Tuttle Mealybug Treatment Program
This consists of 3 weekly treatments designed specifically for Tuttle Mealybug. Each treatment is specialized to deal with various stages of the Tuttle Mealybug. Populations are usually knocked down by the second weekly treatment; however, you may see new spots start as they move. We will spot treat these areas until total control is achieved. We are recommending this treatment program immediately for all properties that are experiencing an infestation now.
Note: If you are not currently experiencing Tuttle mealybug issues, we still recommend having this service approved as an “As Needed” service so we can start treatment at the first sign of an infestation.
3. Recovery: Tuttle Mealy Recovery Program
The damage from Tuttle mealybug will cause your turf to be stressed making your turf prone to stress caused diseases such as Take all Root Rot. We recommend all properties with Empire Zoysia have a fungicide treatment as an “as needed” service on their account. This will allow us to react quickly at the first signs of an issue.
Note: "Take All Root Ro" usually occurs on properties with Tuttle mealybug as the damage looks like a water issue, prompting overwatering.
The best defense is a dense, healthy turf. In general, healthy turf is less vulnerable to pests and can recover faster from an infestation. Follow the Best Management Practices for growing turfgrass. Mow at the correct height for the turf species, keep thatch at a minimum without scalping, and avoid over-watering. Over watering is a concern as damage from Tuttle mealy can resemble water issue damage. Proper sanitation of landscaping equipment is important as you can risk transporting Tuttle Mealybug from property to property. Because Tuttle Mealybug is a warm season insect, it will burrow back down in the soil during colder months. Once the weather starts warming, the Tuttle Mealybug will reappear making it a long-term pest.
Contact Us Today if you suspect you have Tuttle Mealybug!
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