Sunday, July 17, 2011

Muchas hormigas en los verdes, no bueno

Hormigas are ants.  That is a new Spanish word for me, taught by my always helpful, bi-lingual staff.  Ants on the greens have been a minor problem for a full year.  The fourth green has definitely been the worst one with up to twenty small mounds built in clusters.  Each day they are mowed down and rolled over, but they are reconstructed to their former glory by mid-afternoon.  I teased some members that I hired these ants to perform some minor aerification, but they are now becoming a problem that is more difficult to control than I would have guessed.

We tried the common insecticides that we normally spray about two times a year for cutworms.  The ants were knocked back for a few days and then started at it just like before.  Recently, the number of mounds have been increasing and they are starting to show up on most of the greens, not just a couple isolated areas.  I tried spot spraying, but the surface sprays would only last for two days.

My search for a cure led me to Turfnet, as is often does, and I searched The Forum to see what I could find.  There has definitely been a superintendent who has seen and resolved this problem before me,so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  Sure enough, others had the same problem and went through the same process to eradicate las hormigas.  I was pointed in the direction of a USGA funded study at the University of Kentucky, 'Nuisance Ants on Golf Courses' by Reid M. Maier and Daniel A. Potter.

The troublesome ants are now much fewer in number and no longer marking up the putting greens.  The turf that was thinned or scalped due to the mounding will heal up in a short time and look just like ball marks that were not repaired.  Thanks to golfer etiquette, we've been pretty good in that category for a few weeks now. During his daily setup duties, Bert will keep an eye on the ant mounds and treat them as soon as they appear.