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Selecting Turf Insecticides

As you price turf insecticides, it's vital to be informed on which chemicals affect which insects as well as their impact on the environment. Here are a few of the common chemicals on the market with the key details to help you make informed decisions before putting them in your maintenance program.


Acephate photo:

  • Trade Names: Orthene, Asataf, Pillarthene, Kitron, Aimthane, Ortran, Ortho 12420,Ortril, Chrevron RE 12420, and Orthene 755.
  • Used to Kill: Biting and sucking insects such as aphids, leaf miners, caterpillars, lepidopterous larvae, sawflies and thrips.
  • Regulatory Status: General Use Pesticide (GUP)
  • Chemical Class: Organophosphate
  • Description: Foliar spray insecticide of moderate persistence with residual systemic activity of about 10-15 days at the recommended use rate. It is considered non-phytotoxic on many plants, but toxic to Heliothis spp. that are considered resistant to other organophosphate insecticides. Emits toxic fumes of phosphorus, nitrogen, and sulfur oxides when heated to decomposition. Symptoms of exposure to acephate include a slight irritation of eyes and skin. Acephate comes in soluble powder, pressurized spray and granular formulations.


Azadirachtin photo:

  • Trade Names: Align, Azatin and Turplex.
  • Used to Kill: Whiteflies, aphids, thrips, fungus gnats, caterpillars, beetles, mushroom flies, mealybugs, leafminers and gypsy moths.
  • Regulatory Status: General use pesticide (GUP) with a toxicity classification of IV (relatively non-toxic). Must bear the signal word "Caution" or "Warning" on the label.
  • Chemical Class: Tetranortriterpenoid
  • Description: Blocks the insect's production and release of vital hormones during metamorphisis. Insects then will not molt, thus breaking their life cycle. It may also serve as a feeding deterrent for some insects. Depending on the stage of life-cycle, insect death may not occur for several days. However, upon ingestion of minute quantities, insects become quiescent and stop feeding. Residual insecticidal activity is evident for 7 to 10 days or longer, depending on insect and application rate.


Cyfluthrin photo:

  • Trade Names: Baythroid, Baythroid H, Attatox, Contur, Laser, Responsar, Solfac, Tempo and Tempo H, Baythroid TM and Aztec.
  • Used to Kill: Cutworms, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, termites, grain beetles, weevils, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, corn earworms, tobacco budworm, codling moth, European corn borer, cabbageworm, loopers, armyworms, boll weevil, alfalfa weevil, Colorado potato beetle, and many others.
  • Regulatory Status: Found in both restricted use (RUP) and general use insecticides (GUP). Classified by EPA as acute Toxicity Category II (bearing the signal word "Warning") or Toxicity Category I (bearing the signal word "Danger") based on its potential to cause eye damage.
  • Chemical Class: Synthetic pyrethroids
  • Description: A non-systemic chemical that has both contact and stomach poison action.


Diazinon photo:

  • Trade Names: Basudin, Dazzel, Gardentox, Kayazol, Knox Out, Nucidol, and Spectracide. Diazinon may be found in formulations with a variety of other pesticides such as pyrethrins, lindane, and disulfoton.
  • Used to Kill: Cockroaches, silverfish, ants, fleas, yellow jackets, sucking and leaf eating insects.
  • Regulatory Status: Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP) and is for professional pest control operator use only. Classified as toxicity class II – moderately toxic, or toxicity class III – slightly toxic, depending on the formulation. Products containing diazinon bear the Signal Word WARNING
    or CAUTION.
  • Chemical Class: Organophosphate
  • Description: Used on horticultural plants and is available in dust, granules, seed dressings, wettable powder and emulsifiable solution formulations.



  • Trade Names: Comply, Insegar, Logic, Pictyl, Torus, and Varikill.
  • Used to Kill: Fire ants, fleas, mosquitos, cockroaches, butterflies, moths, beetles, scale and sucking insects.
  • Regulatory Status: Non-toxic pesticide in EPA toxicity class IV. General Use Pesticide (GUP). Labels for products containing it must bear the Signal Word CAUTION.
    Chemical Class:* Carbamate
  • Description: Blocks the ability of an insect to change into the adult stage from the the juvenile stage (metamorphosis). It also interferes with larval molting, the periodic shedding or molting of the old exoskeleton and production of a new, larger one.


Hydramethylnon photo:

  • Trade Names: AC 217,300, Amdro, Combat, Maxforce, and Wipeout.
  • Used to Kill: Fire ants, cockroaches and leaf cutter ants.
  • Regulatory Status: General Use Pesticide (GUP). A slightly toxic compound in EPA toxicity class III. Products containing hydramet hylnon must bear the Signal Word CAUTION.
  • Chemical Class: Trifluoromethyl aminohydrazone
  • Description: Available in a ready-to-use bait formulation for both indoor and outdoor application.

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Controlling Nematodes

Nematodes do not normally kill turf, but instead increase damage from other stresses and cause grass to appear weak and thin, display symptoms of nutrient deficiency, and wilt rapidly during dry weather.

Nematodes are eel-like worms that are too small to be seen without a microscope. They attack plants with small needle-like appendages to puncture plant cells to obtain nutrients. While not normally killing the host plants, they increase damage from other stresses, causing turf to appear weak and thin, display symptoms of nutrient deficiency and wilt rapidly during dry weather. Root stunting, excessive branching, and even death of roots may also occur. The types of nematodes that are found most frequently in soil from turfgrasses are ring, stunt, spiral, lance, stubby-root, and sting.

There are a number of management practices, including irrigation and fertilization that can minimize nematode damage. In addition, manufacturers have produced a number of organic methods. One example, Dragonfire-CPP(TM), uses oil derived from specific engineered cultivars of wild plant seeds.

Dragonfire CPP oil is derived from a specific cultivar of wild round sesame seeds containing high concentrations of linolenic and lioleic acids.

This product, like most organic compounds, deters nematodes from feeding on plants once the oil has been absorbed by the plant roots. In this case, ingestion produces death due to the drying effects of the linoleic and lioleic acids. Overall these compounds are effective because contact causes the nematodes to become lethargic. Long-term use eventually causes a reduction of population, which allows the turf to recover.

These oils may be applied by boom sprayer, backpack sprayer, hose end applicator, hand drenching, and though irrigation/fertigation, or by high-pressure subsurface injection. It is recommended to irrigate immediately after surface or subsurface application. Most of these organic oils do not present the environmental problems of insecticides, and may be applied to turf including lawns, golf courses, sports fields, playgrounds, schoolyards, cemeteries and sod farms. Their rate of application will vary depending of the severity of the infestation.

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December 10, 2019, 7:01 pm PDT

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