The hunting billbug is the most dominant and damaging insect pest species of sod farms (where turfgrass is commercially produced) in Georgia (USA). The larvae feed within the turfgrass stem, and roots affect turfgrass growth. Hunting billbugs are usually managed using insecticides. However, the application of insecticides to entire sod fields is not an economically and practically feasible option. Thus, an improved sampling plan for larvae and adults is warranted to improve management decisions. The current study was aimed at understanding the spatial distributions of hunting billbug larvae and adults in sod farms using geospatial techniques. The larvae and adults were sampled using soil cores and pitfall traps, respectively. After evaluating two geospatial techniques, the distribution pattern of hunting billbug larvae and adults within the sod farms was aggregated. The presence of billbugs in samples collected at 4 m apart suggests active infestation. This information will help develop integrated pest management for hunting billbug in sod farms and reduce insecticide use, benefiting growers and the environment alike.
The hunting billbug, Sphenophorus venatus vestitus Chittenden (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is an important turfgrass pest, especially in sod farms. S. venatus vestitus larvae feed on the stems and roots of turfgrass. Damaged turfgrass is loosely held together and poses a challenge for machine harvesting. Additionally, the normal growth of turfgrass is affected, especially after winter dormancy. Because S. venatus vestitus larvae are hidden inside the stems or under the soil, larval management is challenging. To improve sampling and management, the spatial distribution patterns of S. venatus vestitus larvae and adults were assessed at four sod farm sites with a history of S. venatus vestitus infestation in central Georgia (USA). The larvae were sampled by soil cores using a hole cutter, whereas adults were collected using pitfall traps for 7 d. The spatial distributions of larvae and adults was analyzed using SADIE and variograms. The SADIE and variogram analyses revealed a significant aggregation pattern for adults, whereas aggregated distributions were detected for larvae with variogram analyses. The average ranges of spatial dependence for larval and adult samples were 3.9 m and 5.4 m, respectively. Interpolated distribution maps were created to visually depict S. venatus vestitus infestation hotspots within the sod farms.