Agrotis ipsilon multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (family Baculoviridae, genus Nucleopolyhedrovirus, AgipMNPV), a naturally occurring baculovirus, was found infecting black cutworm, Agrotis ipsilon (Hufnagel) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), on central Kentucky golf courses. Laboratory, greenhouse, and field studies investigated the potential of AgipMNPV for managing black cutworms in turfgrass. The virus was highly active against first instars (LC50 = 73 occlusion bodies [OBs] per μl with 2-μl dose; 95% confidence intervals, 55–98). First instars that ingested a high lethal dose stopped feeding and died in 3–6 d as early second instars, whereas lethally infected fourth instars continued to feed and grow for 4–9 d until death. Sublethal doses consumed by third or fifth instars had little or no effect on subsequent developmental rate or pupal weight. Horizontal transmission of AgipMNPV in turfgrass plots was shown. Sprayed suspensions of AgipMNPV (5 × 108–6 × 109 OBs/m2) resulted in 75 to >93% lethal infection of third or fourth instars in field plots of fairway-height creeping bentgrass, Agrostis stolonifera (Huds.), and on a golf course putting green collar. Virus spray residues (7 × 109 OBs/m2) allowed to weather on mowed and irrigated creeping bentgrass field plots significantly increased lethal infection of implanted larvae for at least 4 wk. This study, the first to evaluate a virus against a pest in turfgrass, suggests that AgipMNPV has potential as a preventive bioinsecticide targeting early instar black cutworms. Establishing a virus reservoir in the thatch and soil could suppress successive generations of that key pest on golf courses and sport fields.
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Vol. 99 • No. 4