Pest Resistantance & the Titans
They go way back
Back in the late 80’s, the original Titan fescue was one of only a few groundbreaking grasses to have its own natural, safe pesticide called endophyte. (In fact, even the Washington Post ran a story on it!) This non-toxic insect deterrent has continued to be a key component in every generation of our Titan grasses.
Over the past two decades, the value of endophytes in grasses has continued to be realized. Researchers have found that endophyte not only deters insects, but also reduces weed infestations and assists in drought recovery. Endophyte is very valuable. In fact, within the past five years, endophyte infected grasses have been used as part the nation’s airport system to defend against bird collisions with planes!
The way endophytes work is very cool!
While living off its grass plant host, endophytes produce defensive chemicals - alkaloids - that are toxic to enemy insects. One effect of these toxic alkaloids is that the plants taste bad. This causes insects to spend more time moving and less time feeding, thus making the insects more vulnerable to predators and pathogens. Newly hatched larvae and nymphs also are more prone to starve in endophytic lawns.
Additionally, endophyte-infected plants produce lower amounts of aromatic compounds that are known to attract insect pests. In other words, in addition to tasting bad to the bad bugs, endophytes may actually “hide” their host from certain insect enemies. Is that cool or what?
Reasons to love endophyte
Effective against above ground insect pests, as well as below ground insects and plant-parasitic nematodes.
Increases summer performance and tolerance to drought and heat.
Helps plants better compete against common weeds and dicots (including crabgrass, dandelions, plantain, and clover).
Enhances disease resistance by maintaining plant health.
Increases the range of environmental adaptation.
Increases seed survival, germination, and establishment.
Improves performance in poor quality acidic soils and soils with low phosphorus content.
All natural and does not diminish over time; reduces the need for frequent pesticide treatments.
What you can do to protect your lawn
In blends and mixes, make sure that at least one or more of the components has a high level of endophyte. Research has shown that even some endophyte in a turf stand reduces insect populations and damage.
As appropriate, promote overseeding of Kentucky bluegrass mono-stands with endophyte-enhanced perennial ryegrasses. Research has shown that even slice seeding 1-2 lbs/1000 sq. ft. of endophyte-enhanced perennial ryegrass into an existing Kentucky bluegrass stand reduces insect damage. Overseeding in the fall will help provide resistance to billbugs, chinch bugs and sod webworms the following year.