Before the new year, get to know these emerging insects and weeds

December 26, 2022 -  By
While it’s not a turf pest, the spotted lanternfly is a major nuisance to ornamental plantings experts say. (Photo: arlutz73/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

While it’s not a turf pest, the spotted lanternfly is a major nuisance to ornamental plantings experts say. (Photo: arlutz73/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Pest is a broad term used within the turf industry. The term can refer to weeds, insects and diseases. As last year’s fall armyworm outbreak shows, familiar foes in one part of the country can wreak havoc in a different part of the country where lawn care operators (LCOs) are unfamiliar with best management practices.

To offer their take on a few emerging pests, Eric Reasor, Ph.D., southeast research scientist with PBI-Gordon Corp., and Edwin Afful, Ph.D., insecticides product development manager for FMC, share some emerging pests LCOs should get to know.

Emerging weeds

Reasor says LCOs should look at green and false-green kyllinga as emerging pests in the transition zone and Northern growing regions with cool-season grass. Kyllinga can resemble nutsedge, he says.

“Perennial kyllinga species such as green and false-green kyllinga can persist year after year by spreading via underground rhizomes and seed,” he says. “These weed species can look like a turfgrass; however, they typically appear lighter green in color and have a fragrant smell to the leaves. They have a fine leaf texture and often have a burred seed head at the base of the leaves.”

Best management practices such as proper mowing height, irrigation and fertilization can help LCOs prevent infestations. Postemergent herbicides are most effective for kyllinga control because the weed is perennial, Reasor says.

“It is important to apply herbicides earlier rather than later when the plants are more mature in the late summer,” he says. “Key active ingredients are pyrimisulfan, halosulfuron, trifloxysulfuron, flazasulfuron, imazosulfuron and sulfentrazone.”

Doveweed, a summer annual broadleaf weed with a grassy appearance, is another weed LCOs should know, especially in the transition zone. Doveweed is no stranger to LCOs on the Gulf Coast and in the Deep South, Reasor says.

Doveweed germinates rapidly when temperatures reach 65 to 70 degrees F and can resemble St. Augustinegrass or centipedegrass. It may appear more succulent and rubbery than turfgrass, Reasor says. “When mature, purple flowers will grow, which will aid in identification,” he says. “Leaves are linear in shape and have an alternative arrangement on the stems.”

Reasor recommends proper irrigation and watering practices as doveweed prefers moist soils. Again, he also encourages LCOs to maintain a dense lawn with proper mowing heights and fertilization.

“Preemergent herbicides do offer doveweed control,” he says. “However, most preemergent herbicides applied for crabgrass control in spring do not last in the soil for excellent doveweed control.”

Reasor recommends LCOs use multiple preemergent applications to get the upper hand on doveweed.

Postemergent herbicides are also effective against doveweed, he says.

“Multiple applications are likely warranted due to doveweed’s rapid germination and recovery from herbicide injury,” he says. “Key active ingredients for postemergent control are 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, carfentrazone, sulfentrazone, penoxsulam and thiencarbazone.”

Emerging insects

Spotted lanternfly was first identified in the U.S. in Berks County, Pa., in 2014. Since then, researchers found populations in New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia.

While not a turf pest, the invasive species is a nuisance to homeowners and ornamental plantings. Afful says he’s heard reports of spotted lanternfly activity picking up further south in Maryland and Virginia, west in the Midwest and further into New England.

Another insect LCOs should be on the lookout for is the crane fly. These pests resemble large mosquitoes. Research from North Carolina State University says adults emerge in the summer and lay eggs in thatch. Larvae feed on the turf’s crown and roots.

“We have also received quite a few calls on crane flies expanding down into Maryland from the Finger Lakes region in New York,” he says.

Afful says LCOs also will commonly contact FMC for assistance with fall armyworm, mosquito and tick control solutions.

He adds, “definitely reemerging as a bigger threat are chinch bugs and mosquitoes and ticks.

This article is tagged with , , and posted in Featured, From the Magazine, Turf+Ornamental Care
Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University. She can be reached at

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