The severity of damage to host plants by omnivorous pests can vary according to the availability of plant and animal prey. Two omnivorous mole crickets, Scapteriscus vicinus Scudder and S. borellii Giglio-Tos, were used to determine if the availability of prey influences damage to hybrid bermudagrass by adult mole crickets. Experiments were conducted in arenas with either grass alone (control), grass plus one mole cricket, grass plus earthworms (Eisenia fetida Savigny), or grass with earthworms and a mole cricket. Root growth variables (e.g., volume, dry weight) after 4 wk and weekly measurements of top growth were compared among the treatments. Surprisingly, bermudagrass infested with either mole cricket species caused no significant reduction in root growth and a minimal reduction on top growth with S. vicinus compared with controls. Survival of earthworms with S. borellii was significantly lower than survival in the earthworm-only treatment suggesting predation. Survival of earthworms with S. vicinus, however, was not different from the earthworm-only treatment. The addition of earthworm prey with mole crickets did not significantly impact bermudagrass root or shoot growth relative to grass with only mole crickets. Despite no negative impacts from earthworms or mole crickets separately, earthworms plus mole crickets negatively impact several root parameters (e.g., length) suggesting an interaction between these two soil-dwelling invertebrates. Increased use of more target-selective insecticides in turfgrass may increase available prey. This work suggests that alternative prey, when present, may result in a negative impact on turfgrass roots from foraging omnivorous mole crickets.
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Vol. 41 • No. 5