Pollinator BMPs in Turfgrass

Insects are the most common and abundant pollinators in our world today. Although bees may be the most well-known insect pollinators, there are many other different insect species, including butterflies, moths, wasps, flies and beetles, that can also play an important role in plant pollination. It is estimated that insect pollinators contribute approximately $30 billion to farm income annually with the honey bee being responsible for the majority of commercial crop pollination.

Below are a few suggested best management practices (BMPs) to consider when applying pesticides while being mindful of our pollinating insect friends (Click for full PDF, including table with common turfgrass pesticides ranked by LD50 toxicity):

  1. Remove all flower heads of weeds either by hand, herbicide application or mowing the turf prior to making an insecticide application.
  2. Create a 2-3 foot mulch buffer zone between flowering ornamentals and treated turfgrass.
  3. If treatment is necessary, spray after petal fall (mid-late summer), avoid neonicotinoids around flowering shrubs and trees, and avoid making an applications when conditions are windy (more than 5 miles/hour) to minimize drift.
  4. When possible, choose granular formulation over sprays, dusts and wettable powders.
  5. Choose a less toxic insecticide class: see chart
  6. If possible, apply post-application irrigation to rinse pesticide residues from flower surface.
  7. Notify any beekeepers within 2 miles of spray site at least 48 hours prior to application.