Mosquito Madness At Golf Course
From larvae to adult, mosquitoes complicate golf course operations. As mosquito season picks up throughout the United States, superintendents and pest management professionals increase measures to kill them off.
Whether they are swarming around a group of golfers finishing a round at dusk or a stand of spectators at a PGA Tour event, mosquitoes have presented many a problem for the golf course superintendent. However, both superintendents and pest control experts have found success in both killing the larvae and the blood-suckers themselves to reduce problems on golf courses.
A recreation of natural cycles kills off mosquitoes at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill. Superintendent Dan Dinelli maintains flocks of purple martins, barn swallows, tree swallows and dragonflies that attack the insects by air, and releases fathead minnows into his demonstration wetland to eat the mosquito larvae.
The golf course’s workers try to avoid letting water sit in tires and buckets, but if it does sit, they place mosquito donuts inside, Dinelli says. “It’s naturally occurring bacteria — you’re just stepping it up,” he says. “And it’s safe for fish and everything.”
Mosquitoes still carry the West Nile Virus around Glenview, about 20 miles north of Chicago, Dinelli says. Throughout an approximate 30-mile radius of Glenview, the number of crows has remained low as what he presumes is a result of their contracting the virus.
West Nile mosquitoes show up in Chicago every year, says Dr. Stan Cope, director of entomology and regulatory services at Terminix. They tend to breed in municipal storm drains in big cities. However, the fact that mosquitoes and birds carry the virus does not necessarily mean it will show up in human populations, he says. Although effects of the virus can be serious, about one in 200 people who contract it develop a severe illness.
Still, Dinelli doesn’t want to take any chances. “It makes it worth putting up these defenses,” he says. “It makes it worthwhile just to keep that disease to a minimum.” Knowing where mosquitoes reside is a key step in being able to reduce their populations, Cope says. “Adult mosquitoes like to rest where it’s cool, dark, moist and out of the wind,” he says. “They’ll sit there until they sense a host coming by, whether it’s a person or an animal.”
Mosquitoes congregate near standing water and lay their eggs there, says Jack Chou, global category development manager at QM LTD. “A mosquito could in theory breed inside of a soda bottle cap,” he says. “It really does not need to be much water at all.” Because mosquito populations are less likely to swarm around flowing water, he says, pond aeration practices could help keep mosquitoes at bay.
Manholes are one place where mosquitoes can breed and superintendents might not realize it, Dinelli says. If a drought occurs and the systems have not flushed, water can sit below the drain.
Turf drainage is also important, Dinelli says. The North Shore course is flat with heavy soil, so it doesn’t naturally drain well, but workers constantly repair drainage and add to the system.
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