WBF summit discusses ways to prevent leatherjacket infestations

Experts from across the industry talked about managing infestations of leatherjackets using integrated pest management

Image credit: www.worldbioprotectionforum.com

Image credit: www.worldbioprotectionforum.com

The World Bioprotection Forum (WBF) recently organised a summit to focus on the use of cultural, physical and mechanical techniques, bioprotectants (formerly known as biopesticides), and chemicals, to manage leatherjacket infestations in the golf/sports turf and amenity sector.


Leatherjacket larvae are causing extensive damage to turf – this year, these pests have reached an all-time high, due to the removal of toxic chemical pesticides from the market, and the fact that they have thrived in quiet, unused areas during the COVID pandemic. 


The summit started with Dr Minshad Ansari, CEO, Bionema and Chairman, WBF welcoming the participants and provided a glimpse of the devastation caused by leatherjackets. The speakers, who offered a variety of approaches to manage these pests, were Greg Evans, a Consultant Agronomist, who presented his experience on ‘The rise of the leatherjackets’ in recent years, explaining how various factors have likely led to population explosions across the UK, resulting in devastating damage. This was followed by Dr Colin Mumford (Bayer Crop Science), who explained cultural, physical and mechanical management; Professor Ralf-Udo Ehlers (e-nema), who has been investigating the use of bacteria (Baccillus thuringiensis israelensis) and nematodes as a biological control method; Glenn Kirby (Syngenta), spoke on current chemistries and recommendations for their emergency use and Dr Minshad Ansari (Bionema), explained how and when to apply beneficial nematodes – an increasingly popular and effective biological option for leatherjacket control, that gives the best results if certain application rules are followed. 


Experts agreed that there is no quick fix for leatherjacket infestations but integrated pest management (IPM) can be an effective management strategy that can help control pests. As explained by Peter Corbett (Rigby Taylor), the key to success is using an integrated approach – combining some or all of the above approaches in a way that is sustainable not just to the environment, but also to businesses in the golf/sports turf and amenity sector. 


A highlight of the day was an encouraging case study of leatherjacket control at Neath Golf Club, by Head Greenkeeper Mark Tucker. Tucker explained how beneficial nematodes had resolved the leatherjacket problems which he was suffering. Importantly, continued good management has kept these pests at bay. 


Similarly, Simon Johnson, Grounds Management Association Regional Pitch Advisor Southwest, explained how nematodes were successful was at Constantine cricket club. 


“Leatherjackets have caused such terrible problems this year, that many greenkeepers are in despair,” said Dr Ansari. “I hope this Emergency Summit has shown them that it is possible to manage these pests and to reverse the damage they have done to turf across the UK.


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